Dear Editor: School board chair Moyra Baxter, in alliance with the Board of Education and teachers’ union, claims parents and public should not have access to Grade 4 and 7 student test results that measure how well students can read, write, and do math. Using their stated rationale, they would also hide reports on school safety standards and the financial audit.
Feedback using standards is essential for improvement. Our B.C. government asks teachers to use the same test, administered with a common approach, to identify standards and guide improvement efforts. All teachers are interested and conscientious teachers will use the feedback.
The teachers’ union voices opposition to teaching to the test, but these tests are based on the mandated curriculum.
The union claims better tests are needed, but these tests are developed by teams of respected teachers. The union complains about student stress, but the reports are used to improve instruction, not for student grades.
Do teachers really believe closing the classroom door secures private and independent practice? This sort of behaviour in health care is called malpractice.
Schools must teach core basic skills.
Our school district website reports a good deal about activities and expenditures, but not much about how well students are learning.
A child who cannot read at grade level by Grade 4, will struggle in school. Baxter says schooling is about so much more — “we teach the whole child.”
You may tell every child they are above average, but the problem becomes apparent when no part of this child can read.
Parents expect schools will focus on ensuring children master the basics skills in reading, writing, and math. While children may enjoy the classroom field trip to the corner store for a bag of candy and a slushy drink, this is not the mission of schools.
Government regulations require all students in Grades 4 and 7 to write the exams, however, our Board of Education allows some students to be removed from the process. The intended focus on improving effort and effectiveness is lost.
Baxter claims schools should not be compared. Perhaps this is based on the belief some kids and some schools cannot achieve at a high level.
Yet we know that our kids are as capable as kids anywhere, all they need is opportunity and good instruction.
Effective schools believe that all kids can learn at high levels and effective instruction can make a huge difference.
However, we recognize that some teachers and some schools are more effective than others. Public accountability demands we test for a credible answer to the question ‘How is our school doing?’
It takes a whole village to educate a child. We must develop a village and schools worthy of our children. Our board of education and teachers’ union want more money but no public accountability. They say don’t look too close or ask questions.
Bobbe Wemock, Kelowna