Letter: Problems with education reform — Part B


Indiana’s recent education policies are not working.

Some in our legislation have promoted the idea that the numbers do not lie when it comes to the statistics presented, but in actuality, statistics have severely misrepresented the truth. With manipulation and distortion of the truth, the general public continues to be uninformed while the education community continues to be exasperated.

Many legislative mandates need to be reformed to truly put our Hoosier education back on the right track. Everyone in education agree there needs to be accountability. No one is questioning this. What is called into question is how that accountability is measured.

Presently, our state has used ISTEP testing as the standard to measure our students’ progress. Thankfully, legislation has acted upon the notion that our ISTEP testing must go. A three-fold approach, however, to our testing practices needs to be addressed. The current testing method is flawed on several levels.

The first level of concern — standardized testing has forced educators to teach to the test. In all honesty, so much is riding on this one test that schools feel they cannot afford to focus heavily on other crucial principles which contribute to the positive development of a child such as citizenship and character building.

Second, test scores are now tied to teacher evaluations. We have treated our children as pieces of manufactured goods. If they do not pass the quality control from test results, we have incongruously placed fault on the educator for the product outcome.

Third, the test results contribute to the highly defective accountability A-F grade. Formulas designed to configure the grade for schools or corporations are so misaligned, yet we continue to use this system to categorize a school’s success.

If not for mandates passed this year to issue 2014’s grade over 2015, the true gaffe would have been revealed. For example, if we used the actual 2015 accountability grades, one school within our district which received a D in 2014 measured an A in 2015 while the corporation where this school resides had an A in 2014 and, if not for the legislative “Passover,” would have scored an F in 2015.

Both the school and corporation in question are extraordinary organizations and have offered quality education to students for many years. The statistics do not reveal improvements (or, lack thereof) that have been made. It only reveals just how flawed the accountability system truly is.

A three-fold plan the state needs to adopt is to not only stop administering tests which seem to follow the money and are tied to money-making publishing companies but also put an end to the accountability grades and tying teacher evaluations to the test scores.

As much as it is realistic for schools and educators to be held accountable, students and parents need to take on some of that responsibility, as well.

We need to move forward and design plausible expectations where everyone shares in the value of educating our Hoosier students.

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