Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Viewpoint: SB 1 is a Step Forward

(I've learned something this month: supporting most of a bill while opposing a couple of elements is hard work. This morning, the C-J editorial's repeat mention of interim accountability goads me to try again to get the balance right.)

When teachers track students' individual progress and adjust instruction to keep them all moving forward, there's every reason to expect a big step up in achievement. That's an idea I come back to early and often.

For the long-term, SB 1 can put us on the right path for that to happen in more classrooms. If we implement that bill well:
  • Leaner standards will allow more sustained work and better learning.
  • Teacher preparation will systematically equip new teachers to use those standards, both in evaluating student work and in designing instruction.
  • Arts programs will be checked for actual work performing and creating in the arts, not for essays about doing those things.
  • Writing programs will be checked for effective teaching strategies as well as results.
  • Assessment of science, social studies and writing will return to full accountability in 2012.
Further, if we implement the bill effectively:
  • Students will still construct their own responses to items on each subject, demonstrating ability to solve problems and explain their strategies.
  • Scores will still reflect students' work in relation to state standards, not just national averages--and those standards will now be aligned with college expectations and global competition.
  • Students will still develop writing portfolios each year from primary to grade 12.
I wish we could also have kept portfolios in accountability, and I wish we could have kept accountability for science, social studies, and writing for 2009, 2010, and 2011. I'm not saying I like those parts of the bill.

I am saying, though, that Kentucky just passed unanimous legislation in favor of stronger standards, assessment, accountability, and teacher preparation--and that's an impressively good thing.

Implementation will, as always, be major work. It will take energy and attention, and it will require funding in the middle of a mighty recession. We will make mistakes and struggle to fix them.

Nevertheless, it will be good work. We will share it with good colleagues, and if we give it our best efforts, Senate Bill 1 will produce good things for our children and our shared future.

1 comment:

  1. The idea that teachers track students' individual progress and adjust instruction to keep them all moving forward is key. I’d expand that statement to include teachers AND parents.

    Fayette County Public Schools has taken steps to track students’ individual progress and adjust instruction with the MAP testing done at some schools. Unfortunately parents have to specifically request copies of the NWEA Student Progress report which shows nationally normed percentiles and growth over time. Other parents only get the most recent RIT score and whether this is considered high, average or low.

    Hopefully we won’t have to wait until SB1 is fully implemented before it becomes standard practice to give parents their child’s NWEA Student Progress Report which contains critical information about growth over time. Additional information about the NWEA MAP test can be viewed here on pages 7-9 of the PDF: http://www.nwea.org/support/details.aspx?content=968


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