Spring is in the air and it’s testing time again. Under the guise of “accountability,” many states are plopping student test results and school funding onto the laps of teachers. This is not enough. I say go further.
The Florida Senate just passed controversial SB 6. Teachers’ pays are tied even more directly to how schools and students “perform.” But whole careers are tied to this bill as well. Individual yearly contract renewal and certification are tied to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores (FCAT).
I think there should be some sort of accountability assessed of ALL involved in the education of a child. As this bill moves to the state House of Representatives, I ask them to consider the following amendment:
“Parents/guardians are required to take standardized assessment tests. The Parental Comprehensive Assessment Test (PCAT) would determine their level of involvment in the student's education. Example questions: Did your child learn fractions this year? Did your child learn about verbs? Name 3 books your child read in classes this year. Did you attend any parent-teacher meetings? Did you attend any school functions, PTA or schoolboard meetings? How long each day do you discuss school and school subject matter with your kids? Do you know the name of your child’s teacher? If the parent/guardian does NOT participate or score well in the PCAT, these results will be taken into account regarding the assessment of the performance of the teachers and the school. Provision will be made to NOT penalize teachers and schools due to lack of performance by parents/guardians who are an integral part of the students’ education experience.”
It’s not just "I pay taxes so I should send Johnny/Jane to school and he/she should show up that night educated." There has to be active involvement in the home. If one must quantify "results," this home component is as important as any classroom component. If “results” are to be assessed for accountability, then assess ALL who are accountable.
Just writing a tax check doesn’t get parents off the "accountability" hook.
I did lousy in science. Yet just the other day, I drew upon lessons learned decades ago regarding spatial relationships. I was moving a piece of furniture through a door. I tipped it, rotated it, and got it through. I even remember the teacher telling us about spatial relationships, showing us how it all works. Years later, I finally heard him.
Under this bill, that teacher would probably be fired, have a certificate go un-renewed, possibly lose a career because I didn’t do well on some test?
You just don’t know when education is going to “show up.”
Public Education is not a product. It the greatest gift a society can give to itself and should be given unconditionally and equally to all. “Results” may not show up for many years. Parents aren't "buying" public education like a can of peas at the store. If this impatient “consumer” mindset continues, if this obsessive attempt at quantifying the unquantifiable value of education continues, American society will suffer possibly irreparable damage.