The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

May 18, 2012

Do we change just to change?

WASHINGTON — As the final school bell rings next week, the summer will probably take on much of the same rhythm and flow as every summer before it. Vacations, little league tournaments and family outings will dot the 90 days that every student looks so forward to during the rest of the school year.

However, when students take their seats in the fall, everything will have changed.

The new standards affecting both students and teachers will come into play — and both will find themselves judged by test scores and evaluations that will seriously dictate their future.

Individual teachers’ success and failures will be at least partially based on how their students score on standardized testing. Essentially, one might spent most of the year “undoing” someone else’s philosophy from a previous year. Other teachers will find themselves “teaching the test” throughout much of the year, sacrificing creativity for a more “production line” type of approach.

Administrators will now spend an enormous amount of energy and time evaluating and reevaluating their co-workers, regardless of the success that teacher may have had in the past.

One might liken it giving babies and elderly travelers the same exaggerated scrutiny at airports, as they would to someone buying a one-way plane ticket to Somalia in cash. Instead of focusing on where problems truly are, many administrators will spend time determining “where problems are not.”

Students will also find that with the new IREAD-3 program, along with ISTEP and end-of-course assessments, much of the year’s accomplishments will come down to how well students test.

Entire communities will be looked upon by the way they score, and terms like “free and reduced lunch” or  “English language proficiency” will become as important to assessing success as the actual accomplishments of the students.

We are well aware that dollars will flow to schools that are successful, but does that really take the most important factor into consideration — the level of support and direction students are getting at home?

Nowhere in the sweeping educational reforms that have trickled down from the apex of state government have “parental responsibilities in regard to education” been addressed.

Students whose parents are involved, attentive and engaged in the educational process are the students who do the best, those who are not, do the worst.

Sometimes when a car doesn’t start, it is best check the battery, before rebuilding the engine.

Change can be good and helpful. Accountability is also a postive thing, as long as it is not about finding blame somewhere else to avoid blaming oneself.

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