Let’s dig into that story of "an optimistic little boy poking around in a manure pile" that Weiland Ross submitted (Bennington Banner, Tuesday, August 27, 2013). Yes, we all agree that we want a high quality education in our community and this week educators are busy working together to plan their new year for students who are coming back for their first day of school on Tuesday. Many community members joined educators on Monday this week to collaborate as positive partners to bring closer connections that will add career goals and readiness. Let’s celebrate all the commitment of our educators in continuous efforts toward school improvement.
Yes, there is a "manure pile" that covers up all these positive efforts and sends misinformation to the public. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001) did a great job of "clouding the waters with ink," inventing all the terms that educators need to learn to comply with federal regulations and mandates. NCLB, AYP, NAEP, NECAP, and SBAC are not "jargon" terms invented to confuse people who have questions. They are part of the federal No Child Left Behind system designed by non-educators to define and measure educational progress.
Did it work? We all wonder.
Even legislators are at a loss now when they are finding that all schools will fail Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) measures by 2014 because all students will not meet the 100 percent proficient goal set by NCLB. The AYP measure is not a measure of student success, but a measurement of progress toward the 100 percent proficient goal set for 2014. In 2001 anyone could have predicted that at least 73 percent of schools would not meet that goal. Let’s all watch for the number next year. It is really a measure of the success or failure of the No Child Left Behind Act and what it has done to education.
Yes, there are some benefits from NCLB. Educators have Common Core State Standards standards to better instruct what students can be expected to learn at each grade level. Students of all levels are provided education supports, and we are learning to apply data measures that help teachers differentiate their instruction to meet each student’s needs. We can now examine the proficiency of student of many demographic groups by gender, race, needs, and socio-economics. Our interventions are increasingly providing services to at risk students, and teachers are monitoring all students’ growth. These initiatives are becoming more accessible every day with the help of specialized computer programs and data analysis for continuous improvement. We are all still learning together.
Yes, we would all like our schools to be better, provide meaningful individual learning opportunities for all, and join with community members to meet our workforce development needs. That is the lifelong commitment of educators. How can we support improvement in education?
Thank every educator and school staff member today for all his or her hard work and commitment.
Welcome back to a new school year!
DONNA J. LEEP
Assistant Superintendent, SVSU