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.
- 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 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.