STUDENTS AS PAWNS

Students would never intentionally be used for political reasons – or would they? Motives will never be known, but something just does not make any sense at the NC Department of Public Instruction.

Last week, Dr. Stoops wrote about problems associated with the Read to Achieve initiative passed by the General Assembly in July 2012. This law basically requires all third grades to be proficient in reading, or a series of interventions take place.

One could wonder WHY it takes action on the part of the legislative branch of government for educators to do what should be an obvious task. That is a blog for another day!

The NC Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) role was/is implementation and holding schools and teachers accountable for full execution in the 2013-14 school year.  Now we are seeing just how poorly the law is being imposed.

Instead of adopting what was already used in systems, or getting input from schools, DPI pulls together their team in August of 2012 to determine the course of action.  The process becomes complicated and convoluted. Why do I suggest students are being used as “pawns.”

Here are just a couple of questionable items?

1)   WHY did systems receive a letter on Jan. 16, 2014 explaining the five different options a 3rd grader demonstrates proficiency? Listing the systems could submit alternative assessments. Isn’t this a little LATE considering the bill was passed July 2012?

2)   WHY are systems just now sending alternative assessment requests to the State Board? Again, they could have been working on this in 2012, and 2013 if contacted from the beginning. The State Board will discuss these alternatives TOMORROW.

3)   WHY are the reading passages mandated by DPI for the “reading portfolio” so outrageously difficult to demonstrate third grade reading proficiency. The law states the teacher is to select the work to be put in the “portfolio.”

4)   WHY is the “Cut score” for demonstrating proficiency in 3rd grade reading so high – a student can only miss 8 out of 50 questions or fail the End of Grade (EOG). One would think this score would be around 84% correct, and be passing. Meanwhile DPI uses a major curve on passing rates for End of Course exams in high school. In biology, a student can score at the 23rd percentile and that is converted to a 77, which is a “C,”  passing grade!

Last Friday, I attended a “Read to Achieve Advisory Committee” meeting. This is their FIRST meeting. Does anyone think this is a little LATE? Basically the meeting consisted of  DPI explaining their actions, and then a little time for comments from the committee.  Are we surprised?

Tomorrow the State Board will begin to hear and approve these alternative assessments. Meanwhile, DPI blames the “Republican” General Assembly as they abide to the “letter of the law.” In other words, for a total disaster which has frustrated superintendents, local board members, teachers, parents, and more importantly – EACH & EVERY third grade student in our state.  This is total ineptness or political sabotage. You be the judge.

One comment

  1. I definitely have some issues with Read to Achieve…starting with the fact that my K aged son is expected to read at what was once a second grade level by the end of the year.
    I’m all for challenging my kids, but their little brains need to develop in due time without so much pushing.
    What was wrong with the way it worked when I went through school? I always read above grade level and graduated high in my class. I didn’t read by myself for most of K and even then I was the exception. First grade is where we really started reading in groups and individually.
    As someone stated in reference to over-testing recently:
    constantly accessing kids (or making it a LAW they have to read to pass 3rd grade) doesn’t make it happen any more than getting on a scale everyday makes us lose weight :-)

    Comment by lesliegleans on February 5, 2014 at 12:20 am

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