Keep reform rolling along.....
- Subject: Keep reform rolling along.....
- From: Juanita Doyon <Jedoyon@AOL.COM>
- Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 02:53:02 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
right over the kids! My proposed rebuttal appears below.
0e%66%0b%d7">TRIBnet Home Page</A>
State Legislature should help keep education reform moving forward
Washington's public schools are in the midst of a sweeping transformation. We
are raising the bar for students, teachers and administrators, demanding more
achievement and accountability from everyone involved in public education.
And we're in it for the long haul.
This is a journey the state embarked on in 1993 when the Commission on
Student Learning was created. As a result of its work, the state Legislature
adopted four student learning goals deemed critical to students' success in
the 21st century.
Every student must be able to:
* Read with comprehension, write with skill and communicate effectively.
* Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social,
physical and life sciences; civics and history; geography; arts, health and
* Think analytically, logically and creatively.
* Understand the link between education and the work world.
For the most part, the public has supported these new rigorous standards.
Still, change is difficult and concerns have surfaced from some quarters.
Much of the controversy surrounding education reform centers on the WASL
standardized tests given to fourth-, seventh- and 10th-graders. Some teachers
fear the tests will distort the classroom learning experience, that they will
have to "teach to the test." Parents may worry that their child will not pass
the tests, will suffer undue stress or fail to graduate on schedule.
These are legitimate concerns, but it's important to remember that the WASL
is not an end in itself, but rather one means of measuring progress towards
our goal of ensuring that all children graduate with a diploma that truly
prepares them for the 21st century.Ê
And students are making progress. In the most recent WASL results released in
September 1999, reading and math scores rose for all grades and all race and
gender groups, with one exception - seventh-grade girls, whose reading scores
dropped slightly. The number of students achieving at the highest levels
rose, while the number of students at the lowest levels declined.Ê
Students are also scoring higher on the SAT, ACT and Iowa tests. But we still
have a way to go in helping all students meet the new learning goals.
While test scores are improving among all racial and ethnic groups,
significant achievement gaps persist among minority groups. We need to close
We've done a good job concentrating on the elementary school grades in the
last few years, and we've seen student achievement rise as a result. Now we
must also focus on middle schools so that these students can make similar
No matter what the grade level, ultimately the success of education reform
hinges on the quality of classroom instruction. We must do a better job of
recruiting and developing the highest quality teachers. If we are to hold
teachers and principals accountable for results, they need intensive support
to better understand how to use assessment results to improve teaching and
My budget proposal for the 2001-03 biennium addresses these issues by
focusing on programs that will transform the teaching profession, help
struggling schools and provide equitable access to technology for all school
We recognize that the Legislature has difficult choices to make. But the
people of Washington clearly voiced their priorities last November when they
approved two education initiatives, one providing more money to improve
schools and the other establishing cost-of-living raises for teachers.Ê
Voters did not want the Legislature to use this new funding as an excuse to
cut the education budget in other places. In fact, Initiative 728 expressly
stated: "It is the intent of the people that existing state funding for
education, including all sources of funding, shall not be reduced,
supplanted, or otherwise adversely impacted by appropriations or expenditures
from the student achievement fund created in the RCW or the education
We need to keep moving forward with education reform, despite the fact that
it may not always be easy. Our kids deserve no less.
- - -
* Terry Bergeson was elected in November to a second term as the state
superintendent of public instruction.
Proposed Op Ed alternative view:
Education Reform Has Jumped the Track
“Washington's public schools are in the midst of a sweeping
transformation”-- words that should strike fear and foreboding into the
hearts of every adult in our state! Research shows that educational decision
making is most effective when it takes place at the local level, involving
community members, parents and teachers, who are the closest stakeholders in
the education of children. Why, then, does the “sweeping transformation,”
that is touted by State Superintendent Terry Bergeson, Washington State
School Board and the Academic Achievement and Accountability Commission, come
in the form of top down, high stakes, test driven accountability?
Apparently, as one California parent commented to me recently, our national
and state governments and education leaders don't trust local school boards,
administrators, teachers and parents to do the right thing for children
without coercion, threats and monetary
reward. The reform of Washington schools has been so far removed from the
child, parent and teacher, that meaningful improvement in learning is
becoming an impossibility.
Millions of dollars have been wasted in the quest to develop and
administer one statewide, high stakes test, despite the fact that nearly
every education association in the land, including the National Council of
Teachers of English and the American Association of School Administrators,
and testing companies themselves advise against just such test usage. When I
attend meetings of the A+ Commission, I often hear words like “hammer” and
“teeth,” applied to the rules, regulations and measuring sticks that are
being implemented to “improve learning” for our children. Someone is
forgetting that we are talking about improving human outcome, not quality
control on an assembly line of identical, predesigned widgets! What began in
1993 as the admirable goal of improved schools for children has been
transformed into an indefensible power play to bolster the egos of
politicians. How proud they will be, to be able to say that the test was a
success, but the children failed!
Dr. Bergeson claims, “We are raising the bar for students, teachers and
administrators, demanding more achievement and accountability from everyone
involved in public education.” Let's examine what this hackneyed rhetoric
means to flesh and blood students, parents and teachers, in the here and now
--The heavy hand of the state reaching into our 296 school districts to
blindly administer a 4 part test (WASL) to every child in 4th, 7th and 10th
grade, regardless of special needs, English proficiency or test validity,
stealing away precious teaching and learning time.
--80% of our 10th grade students, and slightly lower percentages of our 4th
and 7th graders being told they are “sub-standard” in at least one area of
testing, regardless of classroom performance and achievement.
--More money poured into the public school system than ever before (an
average per student increase of $2,000, adjusted for inflation, since 1992),
yet a shortage of spending in the classroom that reflects the glaring reality
of inefficient, layered bureaucracy.
--Overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated buildings, teacher shortages, poor
quality “new” textbooks and an inconsistent calendar with allowances for
costly, state prescribed, “teacher training.”
--Parent/School communications slathered with educational jargon and
buzzwords, until it is mutated into a foreign language that neither parents
nor teachers fully understand.
--Parental involvement, the highest ranking hope for school improvement,
remaining an “illusive concept” according to A+ Commission chairperson
--Increased time requirements, dedicated to WASL goals, in order for teachers
to obtain “raises” in salary.
--The disappearance of family time and childhood, as homework requirements
for grade school children increase to unrealistic levels.
Parental choice in public education is rapidly evaporating, as is respect
for professional teaching credentials, school accreditation and individual
student needs. Taxpayers are not getting the educational improvement they
are being sold. Parents who can afford to are fleeing the system in large
numbers for private or homeschool, where they can better assure that the
needs of their children are met. The time has come for parents and teachers
to stand together for the good of children, study the issue of education
reform in our state and nation, and educate our communities about the
inappropriate use of testing and standards that are being put into place by
“leaders” who claim to know what is best for children. The children are
ours! The schools are ours! True, positive “transformation” will be
designed by the needs of children, not by the whims of government and
*Juanita Doyon is the FairTest Coordinator for Washington State and a
candidate for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction 2004
To unsubscribe from the ARN-L list, send command SIGNOFF ARN-L
Post a Message to arn-l: