Sunday, April 12, 2015

Brainstorming Choice

There have been many arguments for and against parental choice. It really comes down to one issue. It is the artificial belief that when your child is in a school where the students have low test scores, your child will make smaller gains in academics.  When your child is in a school with students who have higher test scores, your child will be more likely to make greater gains.

Let us take a deeper look at this issue:

First, test scores are not a sole indicator of academic achievement. They are, at best, 2nd class achievement.  Whole child learning, where a child demonstrates what they are able to do, is 1st class achievement. However, the problem is the mandated test drives the curriculum of the school. And teach to the test becomes the curriculum leaving the perception that kids in higher scoring schools end up being taught to the test better than those with kids in lower scoring schools based on those results. This may or may not be the case but perceptions are real to those who have them. The reality is that the segregation of class and in many cases, race are in full force.

Second, with every child having the same singular standard it seems essential as parents to seek out the school that will enhance your child's education, whether the standards are 1st or 2nd class, there is still a rush to find the school that will support you child the most. There is no notice of what progress a child is really making. It is hidden by the false assumption that everyone should be the same.

Most schools make every effort to see that your child will achieve at the highest level. The reality is the current system of education forces "artificial choice" to become an issue. The current system is based on a poorly designed race that takes kids who are successful in the narrow scope of testing to college and those who aren't to struggle for survival.  And the lack of survival puts kids on the streets.

What if we had an individual pathway to success for every child, an action plan to support learning for all? Then schools could be assessed based on the real success of each individual student, and your child would clearly be seen as being able to advance based on his or her merit.  And the perception that  a student is held back by slower students would disappear. All students would progress at their own best rate. And parents would no longer judge based on average test scores, but based on the quality of education.

No more shifting schools based on an artificial belief that schools that screen for the higher scoring kids, are the best schools. No more shifting schools based on unproven perceptions. Schools would now be on an even playing field and those who serve the kids that need us the most will get their just due.

What if the system and philosophy of a school system was allowed to innovate away from the test if they could develop a plan that is driven by 1st class achievement. That is the only way to put all schools on an even playing field and to allow your child to progress no matter how other kids are doing. And it will allow all kids to progress to their fullest potential without catastrophic failure to the streets.

This is the ONLY way to save public education as well as all education. Of course this would be an extremely difficult plan to implement, but worth it. It would take smaller class size coupled with more planning time, but of more significance, it would take systemic change. What would it accomplish? Children would be empowered to follow their pathway to success; Parents would be empowered to be full partners in the process; and teachers would be empowered to take back their profession.

We have followed the 18th century system of education for hundreds of years and it has failed to serve all kids. Isn't it time to try something new?

For more details go to my website and click the links