Over the past 18 months, the discussion of “education” has focused on distance learning, face masks and critical race theory. But the elephant is still in the room: the academic performance in the United States is a national disgrace.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), aka Nation’s Report Card, measures the skills of American students in several subjects across the country for Grades 4 and 8 every two years and Grade 12 every four years. The levels of success are basic, proficient and advanced. Here’s a summary from the 2019 findings:
● Reading: level below “competent” in reading, national level: 4th year, 59%; 8th grade, 66%; Grade 12, 76 percent. North Carolina 4th grade, 64%; 8th grade, 67%; Grade 12 not available.
● Mathematics: this assessment measures students’ knowledge and ability to apply their knowledge in problem-solving situations.
NOT ‘proficient’ in mathematics, national: 4th grade, 65%; 8th grade, 66%; Grade 12, 63 percent. North Carolina 4th grade, 59%; 8th grade, 63%; Grade 12, not available.
Other subjects were even worse. National scores for grade 12: non-proficient, 88% in history; 77 percent in writing; and 78 percent in science.
Typically two-thirds of our high school graduates lack academic skills; and that doesn’t say anything about the 7,000 students nationwide who drop out every day of school.
Education can be transformed by doing these four things:
● Eliminate the 50-year-old Department of Education, hundreds of billions of dollars, thousands of pages of regulations and thousands of bureaucrats in a losing, centrally controlled organization.
● Decentralize education to states and school districts, where standards and accountability are at or near completion.
● Widen the choice of school. Charter schools consistently outperform public schools as they operate with their own organization, planning and curricula, which gives them the freedom to use innovative school models and personalized approaches to curriculum, staffing, budgeting and development. ‘education.
● Limit the power, control and authority of teacher unions. Take them out of the decision-making cycles in education and politics.
The governor should set up a summer working session. On day one, three exceptional kindergarten teachers and three equally exceptional elementary school principals come together to define what every kindergarten student should learn by the end of the school year.
This group will then describe what to accomplish during each of the six week intervals.
That’s it, the standards for kindergarten are set. Every elementary school principal and kindergarten teacher in the state will then strive to meet these standards.
A similar group of first-grade teachers and principals, who observed the Kindergarten session, now have a clear understanding of where they started from. They set end-of-first-year standards at six-week intervals. And so, during a summer session, standards should be defined for each level and each course.
An organization without accountability is a failing organization. If the responsible governor has established viable standards for all subjects and levels, the responsibility immediately shifts to the local level.
The local school board and the school principal are accountable to the public for the institutionalization of standards. They must ensure that every school principal knows that he or she will be held accountable for quality teaching at the level of each subject in each class every day; period. This is the director’s top priority on a daily basis.
The principal’s responsibility begins when he reviews each lesson plan with each teacher to ensure that there is a clear path to the final standard.
Principals should be at the back of a classroom every day. If the teacher is late, if the instruction is poor, if the students clearly do not “get it”, then there must be a one-on-one “discussion” between the principal and the teacher at the end. of the day. Fix it. Responsibility.
Responsibility on the part of the manager should include creating the conditions for success. That is, an atmosphere of open door / open discussion, an environment in which initiative and innovation are encouraged and the sharing of best practices is the norm and reinforced by a culture of trust and respect.
The teacher’s responsibility is to teach / test, teach / test in order to immediately know if a student is falling behind. Falling behind in fourth grade leads to being even further behind in fifth and so on until that student becomes one of the 7,000 children who drop out of school every day.
Achievable standards and clearly articulated responsibility is a formula for dramatically increasing the “competence” of students in all subjects across America. It doesn’t start in Washington, it starts with state standards and is accomplished at the point of execution, inside the school, one day at a time.