Principal “Reflections & Projections”
We are at a time when both state and federal education issues can, and will, have a great impact on our local school system. Many topics are being tossed around at both levels which include bonus pay, math and science incentives, continuing contract, bullying, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers and/or reauthorization, Common Core Standards, evaluation models, AdvancED standards, etc.
Educators many times make the mistake of putting an education only spin on issues, using terms and explanations that most outside of the field do not understand. In the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet and provide explanations to and with several groups.
One of the most misunderstood may be the NCLB waivers. The U.S. Department of Education announced on February 9 that ten states were approved to waive certain requirements from the NCLB law. South Dakota is applying for the same waiver but has not yet done so. SD is expected to be within a group of 28 additional states that will apply before the next deadline. To simplify this waiver – each state will submit a plan for raising standards, improving accountability, and undertaking reforms to improve educator effectiveness. If NCLB is reauthorized the waiver may become a mute point. As of now two bills to reauthorize that address accountability and teacher quality: The Student Success Act (HR 3989) and The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (HR 3990) are being heard at the federal level.
You will hear a great deal about common core standards. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. Consistent standards will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students regardless of where they live. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K- 12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs.
AdvancED is the new term for NCA, of which Spearfish High School has been accredited with for 84 years.
Support Systems - The school has resources and provides services that support its purpose and direction to ensure success for all students; Using Results for Continuous Improvement - The school implements a comprehensive assessment system that generates a range of data about student learning and school effectiveness and uses the results to guide continuous improvement. This is a continuous process culminating with an external visitation schedule for November of 2013. Many parents will be involved with this process.
I would be remiss not to comment on South Dakota House Bill 1234, the Governor’s plan for education. I have seen nothing to show me that any part of the bill will improve student achievement, classroom effectiveness, teacher performance or education in general. There is little, if any, evidence that merit pay produces any statistically relevant change in student achievement. In fact, there is abundant research indicating that merit pay plans do not increase student achievement. The plan does not reward teachers for student achievement. It rewards teachers for competing with, rather than collaborating with each other.
On a final note, it is not our goal as educators to astound people. Most times, things are much simpler than they appear. I will use this as my example. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. "That's interesting." she said... "How do you make babies?"
Until next time,