What Are Our Educational Goals?

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Writing
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The last several years have seen quite a bit of action on the educational policy front.  It all began back with No Child Left Behind.

Now, as an educator in the classroom, let me say that I love the basic concept that no student is left behind educationally. There is something a bit American about that. I go to work everyday and push to make every student try their hardest in everything that they try. Only a complete moron wouldn’t want children to do poorly.

There is only one problem, and many of us are already aware of it. NCLB has some serious flaws to it. Forget the lack of funding for the educational mandates. The real issue is the criteria that the act put in place. If you want a closer look at everything go here :http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml.

For the sake of making this a reasonable blog length I will be very general. The act made it so that schools had to show what is known as Adequate Yearly Progress. There are schools around where I live that have made huge gains through the years, yet are on a list because the gains don’t match the rigid goals that the act put in place. A school that is making gains should be rewarded, not shamed. It would be like me saying to a student who is passing my class for the first time “You’re not passing by enough, therefore I need you to serve a detention.”

If you think that is ridiculous, then you are with me. If you think it is fine, then that’s fine. Let’s have a discourse here.

More recently, in NYS, there is the new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). The idea is to link teacher raises to student performance. Now, I can see the need to make sure that teachers are doing the right thing for their students, but we need to be careful with what we ask for.

Both NCLB and the new APPR rely heavily on student performance on standardized tests. We are trying to boil down learning in a class to one three hour period at the end of the year.

What is it that we want for our students? Do we want them to be independent thinkers? Do we want them to be interested in the world around them and seek out knowledge? Or do we want them to just spit back a bunch of facts and numbers and move on?

Students need to know that learning is about more than the tests. They need to know that they are more than a score on a sheet of paper. My students are more than some product that I am turning out. They are individuals with fears, plans, and feelings. I will teach them so that they can go into the world prepared to tackle what comes at them. Tests will come and go, but life is always there.

What should we be doing in education?

I will share more ideas as the year goes forward.

  1. Marcia says:

    I agree with you, Jason. Such rigid rules set kids up for failure. And teachers who are less involved and caring about their students than you, will allow that to happen. You can’t judge students, teachers or the individualized curriculum equally across the region. There are too many factors that make that impossible.

    That APPR is nonsense. Another blanket problem-fix that will only make things worse. That’s like giving those borderline teachers license to either give grades that weren’t earned or to virtually beat kids into getting better grades.

    Bad ideas! Glad I’m not a teacher. We have so many teachers in my family and I just don’t know how you all deal with this stuff.

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