Keep up the pressure in schools

I appreciate the frustration in the public school system over the latest round of annual math and reading scores under the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

Though math scores improved slightly and students held steady in reading, the number of schools meeting proficiency goals, called annual yearly progress, decreased because the goals got tougher this year.

It can give the false impression that the schools are doing worse than last year when student scores are actually a little better.

The frustration was perhaps best expressed by Kalani High School principal Mitchell Otani, who told the Star-Advertiser, “It is my hope that one day schools won’t be judged by one test, but will be judged by the quality of lives of the students we produce.”

I agree that the goals need to but more clearly delineated and reporting needs to be tweaked so parents and the community at large can more cleary grasp how the schools are doing.

But I don’t buy persistent calls to significantly ease up on demands and expectations as the perhaps unrealistic goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014 approaches.

Math and reading the two most basic — and objectively quantifiable — building blocks of a good education. Students who fall short in reading and math can’t excel in social studies and science, either.

If schools are graduating significant numbers of students who can’t read and do math to a minimum level of proficiency, if students have to take remedial courses to get into college and their career opportunities are limited, then quality of life is diminished and schools are underperforming on their most basic function.

Whatever its flaws, No Child Left Behind has been the main driving force in the last decade for gains made in a Hawai‘i school system that has historically resisted taking more accountability upon itself.

Until all elements of the school system embrace a culture of demanding accountability from within, we need the feds playing the bad cops.

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5 Comments on “Keep up the pressure in schools”

  1. zzzzzz Says:

    The “perhaps” unrealistic goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014??

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    The reason why children do poorly in school has very little to do with the teachers in their classrooms, the paperwork that the teachers have to spend time filling out, the physical facilities in which the kids spend five-plus hours a day from the end of July to the end of May, the number of textbooks & even the availability of school supplies.

    It’s the people with whom these kids live and play. Three generations ago, barely literate parents – in any language – made sure that their kids read books & did their homework sso that they could get a decent education.

    Today, plop the kid in front of a tv set so that they can learn something from watching cartoons or Fox News.

    Actually, one group which really needs to be acknowledged in helping this generation of kids succeed are the coaches and other after-school service providers such as the people at the Boys & Girls Clubs, the YMCA/YWCA, Scouting programs, etc.

    And please don’t tell me that parents are too busy working to put food on the table to spend time with their kids reading and learning things together.

    I’ve met dozens, if not hundreds, of local folks who are now in their 50s & 60s who grew up in plantation towns where the parents routinely put in 10 hour days and came home exhausted. Still, the kids managed to do well in school, go in the military or directly off to college and become a successful citizen.

    David, you’re a product of the public school system. Are your kids and grandkids? How are their lives different from yours 50 years ago?

    Is this something The Government can change or have we moved well beyond this. Perhaps we should seriously consider adopting the English/European educational system.

  3. Hugh Clark Says:

    TV is a large part of the problem, hardly any of the solution.

  4. Larry Says:

    Today’s standardized tests didn’t exist 50 years ago, so I’m not certain how one can say it was better then. There were no better jobs to aspire to, so perhaps no greater motivation to succeed.

    In Hawaii, 100% is unreachable as long as special needs students are included and the state continues to deny them an appropriate education (which is defined by the feds as minimal to begin with). Hawaii has an exceptionally high rate of due process hearings because of this. The side effect is that 100% is indeed out of reach.

  5. zzzzzing Says:

    @ Hugh Clark: Not just TV, but internet, gaming, FakeBook, etc. Or else they’re just poor & are set out to run amok until the next school day – I see this a lot.

    Schooling starts at home, but our ‘learning institution models’ need revamping. Ideally, kids should be evaluated on how they learn & be placed into learning situations that will benefit them.

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