U.S: Education Standards Fall as Scores Drop

U.S: Education Standards Fall as Scores Drop

 

By Hwaa irfan

When the national rate for unemployment/underemployment for graduates aged under 25 was 53% in 2011 it is no surprise that grades are falling too! Not exactly an environment for learning, along with the national growing student loan crisis and California being taken out of the federal extended benefits program, American youth are being left to their devices including the struggle to survive.

In what way does it help for the Florida Board of Education to reduce the pass scores becuase two-thirds of students in Florida failed to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) exam in 2012. The decision was brought about by an emergency meeting held on Tuesday 15th May, 2012. When new standards were recently introduced that simply required basic skills: punctuation, capitalization, and spelling students only had to get a 4 out of 6 on the grade it is more than serious, it is sad indictment on the system.

FCAT writing scores are used in the calculation of school. It is believed that the reason for major drop in scores is due to the new standards which includes changes in method of grading, and the number of scorers involved, but this is only looking at the crust of the matter instead on delving to the core.

As standardized modern education systems become blinded by putting in place systems that are dependent on tests, tests, and more tests, and losing sight of the learning process and learning environment. Reducing the passing rate does not help those students to read or write any better than they do now although it is taken that as Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson stated students do not become bad students overnight. Issues of preparing the teachers for the strict level of grading has been deemed inadequate, but others whose reputations are not staked on it say that the changed in standards are never-ending, and that continual testing stresses out the students, a reality known to most people as highlighted by FEA (Florida Education Asociation) President Andy Ford in his statement:

“The disastrous test scores on the FCAT writing exam highlight the flawed system that political leaders and the education bureaucracy in Tallahassee have embraced. FEA has always opposed and questioned the overreliance on standardized testing. When this approach was first adopted more than a dozen years ago when Jeb Bush was first elected governor, we pointed out that there was no independent research that his approach was positive for children or for our public schools. There is still no credible research that says that this testing madness helps educate our children well.

“The education leadership in this state – governors, legislative leaders, the Department of Education and the State Board of Education — have consistently ignored teachers, education professionals, administrators and research experts and followed this reckless testing course. It hasn’t helped students, it hasn’t helped teachers, parents are frustrated and it costs millions of taxpayer dollars.

“The dramatic drop in writing scores shows that the system is a failure. Children have not suddenly grown less knowledgeable. The problem is in the state-mandated measurement.”

However, Ford also stated:

“It’s long past time that Florida’s political leadership and its education hierarchy listen to independent researchers, school leadership at the local level and the expertise of teachers and other education professionals in our classrooms and our schools to come up with a way to more fairly and accurately measure the progress of our students and our public school system.”

It is worth noting that the recent changes in standards, stricter standards who brought in without adequately informing the teachers, and parents, which means that the course material remained the same! One wonders how much that factor has to do with the call for political change!

RESPECT is a call for recognition and upgrading of the nations teachers which has held over 200 roundtables across the nation listening to colleagues on how to upgrade the teaching profession. The resulting vision consists of:

  • A New Vision of Teaching And Leading, and a Reorganized Classroom
  • A New School Day and School Year
  • An Environment of Shared Responsibility among Teachers and Principals: Strong Principals and Distributed Leadership
  • Entering the Profession
  • Career Pathways and Professional Advancement
  • Teacher Evaluation and Development
  • Compensation and Conclusion
  • Appendix: Sample Teacher Role Structure

But nowhere is there an aim to reevaluate the curriculum, and the learning process. While politicians and blame teachers, and teacher blame parents branding them as irrate, and lackng in parental discpline, and labeling the children as troublemakers, no one is exploring the root of the problem, the process of educating itself. Many a times, those labeled as “troublemakers” are highly intelligent children, whose natural intelligence is not being addressed. How can a standardized (factory) information repository (school) be deemed as fitting the educational needs of such children. Instead becuase such children come from low bracket income families, they are branded and dealt with accordingly. Naturally intelligent children are extremely demanding and factory school education excerbates the problem rather than create a solution. It does not matter what multi-leveled tiered support system is in place, if the very nature of learning does not match up to the educational needs of the students. Such children need less testing and a more experiential process of learning that befits their extremely active minds. Then there is the stress of working with a mismatched system, which data from the National Education Association has revealed:

  • 3,232,813 teachers in K-12 public schools, and about 16% of these positions become vacant each year.
  • 45%  of new teachers leave the profession in their first five years
  • More teachers believe collaborating with      colleagues is essential to their work, but many districts still don’t provide time for teachers to learn, share and collaborate.

Factory school education is taking its toll on both the students and the teachers, and until the starting point of learning returns to being a joy to teach and a joy to learn, that toll will keep on rising.

 

Sources:

“Drop in 2012 FCAT Writing Scores: Talking Points.” http://feaweb.org/drop-in-2012-fcat-writing-scores-talking-points

“RESPECT Vision Released for Comment.” http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/05/respect-vision-released-for-comment/

“The Florida Department Of Education has Released a Ranking Of All Florida Public Schools Based on Scores on the State’s Standardized Test.” http://feaweb.org/fcat-writing-scores-underline-the-failure-of-testing-mania

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