Tomorrow here in the overly-large school district, we will be electing a new school board, and since, more than half of the incumbents are not running again, it really will be new. Maybe.
One block of candidates is basically running on a platform that begins with an assumption that the system is doing a good job, only requiring a few tweaks, with one even interviewing that “you can’t argue with success”.
However, what if that “success” is based on faulty or outdated measures?
Of course one of the primary evaluations for our schools (and pretty much every other school in this country) are scores on the variety of tests students take every year, from the state SOLs to AP/IB to whatever. But are those many tests really valid assessments of student learning, especially the skills they will need in their life after our schools? It’s a question that needs to be addressed more often, here and elsewhere.
Our district also likes to boast that something like 95% of our graduates go on to “post secondary” programs. But how well prepared are they to succeed in those programs? While that 95% number is found in many places on the website and other publications (including places like the Chamber of Commerce and real estate brochures), any follow-up information on alumni is sparse to nonexistent. I wonder if anyone even tries to collect it.
And then most high schools also like to trumpet their numbers on meaningless lists like the Washington Post’s “challenge” index, one of the most superficial measures of high school quality every invented. Oh, but it does make for good headlines.
So, not only is it possible to argue with our district’s past successes, more people running the show, as well as those who want to, should be challenging many aspects of what we do as a school system.
Instead of spending lots of valuable time tossing around all the trivial, cliched crap that usually passes for serious discussion of education issues these days.