Today the nationwide discussion is, and has been about accountability. Accountability for schools, for teachers, for students. Since the passage of NCLB, and ESEA before that – we have seen testing become the vehicle for how we assess accountability in public schools across the nation.
I am an educator in Florida, so let me give you a snapshot of how we do things (and to be honest you will not see much differ from state to state). A high school student in Florida has to pass a battery of end of course exams, FCAT tests (our state standardized test), and now the Post-Secondary Education Readiness Test (to prove college-readiness).
Can I ask a question? What happened to having faith in schools – so that at the end of thirteen years of school we knew that our students would be prepared to meet the world head on?
I am a history teacher by trade, so let’s look at the past of this great country and it’s educational trends. The World War I generation fought for peace and many also outlived the Great Depression. These men and women were lucky to have finished elementary school. World War II… only 50% of this generation held a high school diploma. Kids who attended school during World War II went on to serve in the Korean Conflict, or later the Vietnam War. These generations introduced the world to film, television, space, and the Moon. They overcame armed conflict many times, economic turmoil, a civil rights movement, and much more.
Do you know what these past generations did not face? A standardized test – at least not in the present form. They turned out doing just fine – people had faith in the schools and the education they received.
Today, we have more resources than we could imagine – but we have no faith in the system. We need to put in place a battery of tests in order to prove that a student in worthy of a high school diploma. (And let me fill you in on a little secret – the tests do not tell the measure of the contributions our students will make to this society.)
Shame on us.
In order to change the system we need to get serious about the system. Reform needs NOT be about testing and how much of it can we run a student through before they graduate. Reform needs to be about taking the profession seriously. Reform needs to be about ensuring that every school across this nation has a quality educator standing at the front of each and every classroom.
Enough is enough – it is time to take a stand. If you are a reformer, if you are an educator, if you are a parent, if you are a student – this is an appeal… start to get serious about the system. This country will be better for it.
Mike Meechin, M.Ed.