I have one word for the Arizona Department of Education - stop! Please stop mandating the expensive factory-model, Common Core testing, data collection and micro-managed teaching methodologies. Being a retired math teacher and school administrator of 36 years has given me the opportunity to witness the results of government intervention in education.
The growing apathy of students, parents and educators reflects the lack of freedom and creativity characteristic of many Arizona schools. The one size fits all does not fit our children. They are wonderfully diverse in interests, skills and developmental levels. In my rural community, a four-year degree is not a realistic option for many students.
Instead of applied, consumer and real life mathematics, Common Core wants students to be graphing parabolic functions. Really? Unless a student is going into a STEM career, four years of math is burdensome and a waste of time. Instead, we need a more holistic view of student achievement: one that reflects the interests and needs of the children we serve.
What our students need are job skills, vocational programs, financial literacy, reading, applied math, experiential learning (field trips), multi-cultural awareness, internet/computer literacy, face to face social interaction, problem solving by correcting mistakes, internships, community outreach, nutrition and health, wilderness experience, independent thinking, team building and written communication skills. How do you measure this progress? Certainly no single assessment is applicable. Use authentic assessment-like projects, multi-disciplinary thematic units, self-evaluation and team participation.
Students, parents, and teachers need more freedom to build local communities, not a top-down, micro-managed learning process. When students become stakeholders in their learning, they also become more accountable. Accountable students become empowered adults, which in turn, can build a workforce, reduce crime/drug use and build a community.
Dorothy Buckelew writes from Golden Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org