15 February 2008

Reports Are telling, Are They Directional?

Yes, there are dozens of reports publishes about segments of teaching or on specific assessments to measure teaching. Yet, what are we left with to direct us to improve education?

Where are the improvement committees and how did they get there? At the high school where I teach is a committee to collect improvement ideas and discuss them. There are students, administrators and teachers on the committee. In AZ I know the Governor has assembled a committee, but without researching it I'm not sure who is on it or what they have accomplished. On the national level, I’m pretty sure the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the driving force to improve education. You can find that web site here.

The measurement to determine if education is improving mandated by NCLB is Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP is determined by each state and implemented using student assessments each state produces. AYP is an individual state's measure of progress toward the goal of 100 percent of students achieving to state academic standards in at least reading/language arts and math. It sets the minimum level of proficiency that the state, its school districts, and schools must achieve each year on annual tests and related academic indicators. Parents whose children are attending Title I (low-income) schools that do not make AYP over a period of years are given options to transfer their child to another school or obtain free tutoring (supplemental educational services).

I keep asking myself what is missing in the process that determines if education is being improved. NCLB spent 21 billion dollars in 2007. The states spent that money, plus more tax revenue from their residents. Yet, in the USA, we still have the result of a whopping 75%+ of students not being proficient at reading and math in the 8th grade. How can the majority of students not be proficient? Something is wrong and I'm not sure anyone has identified what that is. So how do we get there?

One idea, form regional blue ribbon panels from educators and students. Have those committees compile suggestions and recommendations at that region, then take the regions lists and compile a national education priority objective list. From that list of objectives, strategies can be mapped and put on a time line. Notice that we don't have politicians in the mix? We need the education experts and participators to uncover the tasks and milestones necessary to improve K-12 education.

The big difference for me in the objective list is to focus on methods of teaching rather than what content needs to be taught. I think that when appropriate methods are used in teaching, then students are engaged, then they will learn whatever the content is.

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