Education's goals muddled

State test scores have been published and compared, and various schools and/or school districts have been declared wanting – simply on the basis of the aggregate outcome on a grade-adjusted, standardized test across at least the three disciplines of reading, writing and arithmetic.

The test does not take into account the lost learning time because of teacher furloughs.

The test does not take into account any comparison between the students’ ability at the beginning of the school year and the end.

Thus, no account is made for the learning distance traveled over a nine- to 10-month span.

No one knows at what quintile the student enters a school year compared to what quintile the student exits a school year. No such data is made public, if it even exists.

Therefore, the onus is on the teacher, the school and the community, whereas the criticism should be on deficiencies of the testing system – not the teacher, the administration or the school system.

It is no mystery why there is wholesale test enhancement. By and large the test is constructed under the assumption that a student’s goal is a collegiate-level-or-beyond career. Noble, of course, but hardly realistic.

The test should be constructed on the assumption of competence to exist and prosper in a 21st-century commerce. For example: At the ninth-grade level, is the student 25 percent ready, and at the 12th-grade level is the student 100 percent ready, to enter an entry-level position in the workforce and community? If that is the targeted end point, fine and good. If not, then the costs to continue one’s education within the public system of education should be tuition-free for all students.

Tom Zwemer

Augusta

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Sat, 01/21/2017 - 22:00

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