When I found this topic, I knew it was something I had to write about. As an educator I have a strong opinions about the way schools run and should be run. Of course, if you have read my blog you know I have opinions on many subjects. Guess I wouldn’t blog if I weren’t so opinionated. Well back to the topic. I would make three major changes: de-emphasize standardize testing, allow educators to run schools, and hold parents accountable for student performance, behavior and attendance.
I believe that there is too much emphasis on standardize testing. Teaching to minimal skills tests lowers the standards. Standardize testing can be a useful tool. I wouldn’t eliminate standardize testing but rather change the way they are used. Below third grade it is better to focus on mastering basic reading and math skills. A criterion base skills portfolio or assessment would replace current standardized testing. Traditional standardized test like California Achievement Tests or Standford Achievement Test would be used for grades four through six. The test would be used as a part of annual student assessment but not the total package. When used properly achievement tests can provide a useful data about a students potential or as an indicator of possible problems. For students in middle school and high school I think it would be better to use end of course testing similar to AP tests.
One of the most frustrating things for me as an educator is that politicians have more say in how schools are run than professional educators. That would be like having an auto mechanic set the standards for medical care rather than doctors. Allow teachers to teach with the support of administrators, parents and politicians.
Yes, teachers need to be held accountable but parent should be held accountable as well. Students whose parents are involved and supportive of both the child and teacher do better. Unfortunately, many students do not come to school prepared to learn. They may lack the essentials such as adequate food, shelter and a stable home life. It is difficult for a child to concentrate when they are hungry or worried about where they sleep that night. For some students school is the first time they have encountered an environment with rules and structure. They are used to being able to do as they please and often have difficulty following rules. Then there are parents who are overprotective or believe their child can do no wrong. Anyone who causes problems for their child must be the problem.
Well, that is my take on school reforms. It is not everything that needs or should be done but it is a start.
8 thoughts on “If I Could Change How Schools Work”
I think that you are right about holding parents accountable for their child’s behavior, attendance and performance. It is not unreasonable for educators to expect that there be consequences for misbehavior at school that are backed up at home. However, it is an impossible task. Some parents have rotten kids no matter how much they put into their parenting. Some parents will never care and expect that teachers are babysitters and that it is a teacher’s responsibility to make sure that a child behaves (regardless of what is allowed at home). And then there are those parents who insist that their child is special needs because of their behavior (behavior which is a direct result of permissive parenting). In a perfect world. . .
I get so tired of ADHD being used as an excuse for bad behavior. It always shocks students when they try the ADHD/no med card on me. My response is I’m ADHD and didn’t take any meds either today. Go do your work.
I have to agree with you on all points. The Tests need to go. Right now it seems that most schools are only teaching to pass said tests…and the kids aren’t really learning much beyond that. What a shame!!
While teachers do need to be accountable, parents do to. I have had some pretty sh*tty teachers in my day…I have also had some pretty freaking awesome ones who went above and beyond. I also know quite a few parents that really don’t make their kids accountable for anything. We are trying to do right by Babyhead…but he is only in 1st grade…however we try very hard to work with his teacher so we are all on the same page. There have been many times I have had to talk with his teacher in front of him so he knows that he can’t pull anything over on either one of us.
The only other thing I would change is the politics/attitudes. The school Babyhead goes to is driving me nuts. Not his teacher, but the other admins of the school. I try to talk to them and they talk down to me (or at least I feel like they are) and I am also sick of them using my kid to guilt trip me into doing something-like having a fund raiser night at Chuck E. Cheese and then making sure that the the kids badger their parents to make them go…I am sorry. I can help out with school supplies for my kids class…but I cannot afford to go to Chuck E. Cheese on a whim (and right after Christmas no less!). I understand they need money…but using my kid to guilt us into giving it is unacceptable. I hope we can buy a house in another school district soon. bleh…
Tests are one useful assessment tool when used properly.
Don’t get me started on school fundraisers.
After 4 years of going to school in this district, my kids know not to ask about fundraisers. I am happy to bake. I am happy to go McDonald’s IF it works for us that night. I will not have my kids sell stuff. When things were better for us financially, I was happy to write a check instead of dong a fundraiser. Now, unfortunately, my kids are the recipients of some of those “scholarships.” But, I figure it goes back to other kids – when I spend my own money to buy things for my classroom.
Personally, I get the most from informal assessments. They are on-going, authentic and provide LOTS of information. Especially when used regularly.
I really don’t have a problem with tests…per se…it is the ongoing tests the drive me crazy and many of them don’t take into account a kid’s progress in anything…or at least that is how the tests here are. They have these “tests” on a kids reading ability…and even though Babyhead reads pretty well, if he doesn’t correct himself on a word that he hasn’t even heard before (something tricky for a beginner reader like Cyborg) then it counts as an error and they keep him in the same reading level…even if he really should be going to the next level. Last year he was getting so bored with his reading level books he stopped trying…but instead of seeing him being bored with the book and letting him try a new higher level book, they kept him in the same level because he refused to recite the “sight” words (because he was sick of doing it!)
Even adults get hung up on words they have never heard before, and if you reading the same book over and over to the point you memorize it and don’t bother to read it anymore, there is a problem. I really do think that some of the assessments are out of line and someone needs to look at the bigger picture.
In 1st grade constant reading assessments are necessary. Yes, there are guidelines/standards for promotions. It is also important to use a teacher’s knowledge of a child’s actual ability with promoting to levels. Sometimes it can be helpful to move a student to a slightly harder level even if the “tests” don’t indicate the child is ready. There are some students who do better with a challenge. However it takes a knowledge of that child to be able to make that decision.
Yes, informal assessments are good. I also like a standardized achievement test to gauge yearly progress. Achievement tests can be useful in identifying potential learning or other problems.