Editorial: Education overhaul
August 13, 2011
There is a growing disparity between the resources school districts devote to standardized tests and student achievement on those tests, including in the Moffat County School District. Are teachers and administrators the problem? Are students and parents? Or is the educational system simply broken from the top down? The answer: yes.
Summer is winding down, and thoughts among students and parents turn to a new school year.
While there's always reason for optimism for a new year of academic and extracurricular activities, one inevitable drawback as sure as the classroom bell ringing each hour is attention shifting to standardized tests.
The tests, the Editorial Board contends, are starting to be the focus of an educational system that's becoming bloated, bureaucratic and ineffective in accomplishing what should be its primary objective — preparing students for the real world.
Last week, the Colorado Department of Education began releasing 2011 results of the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests.
In the Moffat County School District, the test results revealed what they usually do — a mixed bag of successes and failures. Gains were made in some areas and offset by declines in others.
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Each year test results are published, and each year the public gets a different verse of the same song on why results aren't sparkling.
That line of inquiry isn't without merit.
For the amount of time and money poured into CSAPs, student results should be better. Teachers teach to tests rather than the material.
Now, they're getting collaboration time. They send notices home asking parents do their part in preparing students when tests are around the corner. Curriculums are adjusted based on prior year results.
And still, there are holes.
Before you read more, know this: the Editorial Board's opinion isn't a condemnation of schoolteachers and administrators. Largely, they do what they can. It's true there are things teachers and administrators can and should do better, like connecting with students through the material, or igniting a spark inside a student by bringing enthusiasm into the classroom.
We believe there are teachers who do these things, just like we believe there are teachers who teach because it offers more than a quarter of the year off and the profession is relatively secure.
But society, try as it may, can't realistically pin the failures of standardized tests and education as a whole only on teachers and administrators.
The problem goes deeper.
There's a lack of parental involvement. How many parents take an active role in their child's education? How many are going over homework with their child? How many stay in contact with their child's teachers so problems don't slip by?
Next, there's the educational system, from a funding shortfall for schools to expectations that every child should be proficient and more in all subjects.
This bloated and bureaucratic system needs to be rebuilt. It no longer makes sense, if it ever did.
And finally there's us, the general public. Where have we been in all this? Have we contributed at all? Or, have we simply sat on the sidelines and served as a critic from afar?
Here's a way we can get involved, if we're really concerned and willing to do something more than pay lip service: volunteer at a school in our free time, or put our name in the hat for Moffat County School Board.
There are four school board seats up for grabs in the November election.
Volunteering in a school or serving the board are great ways to help fix education rather than merely grumble about it.
None of the above opinion is a guaranteed fix for education, and none of it ensures students will learn more than they are now.
But, what we know is we're not getting the desired results, and that won't change unless our approach does.