Education Standards 101

In the recent report noted by AP (Oct 29, 2009 – Report: States set low bar for student achievement) there are no earth-shattering revelations.

It has been known for some time that education standards set by each state vary widely.

However, this information is probably not something about which most Main Street USAers are particularly aware.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), part of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), produces “The Nation’s Report Card” outlining findings of annual student assessment. State standards were compared to the NAEP standards in determining the differences.

Here are a few facts reported by AP:
• Thirty-one states deemed fourth-graders proficient in reading when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Mississippi’s standards were lowest, and Massachusetts’ were highest.
• Seventeen states deemed eighth-graders proficient at reading when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Tennessee’s standards were lowest, and South Carolina’s were highest.
• Ten states deemed fourth- and eighth-graders proficient at math when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Tennessee’s standards were lowest; Massachusetts had the highest fourth-grade math standards, and South Carolina had the highest eighth-grade standards

The standards (from highest to lowest) are: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic.

Thus, when states are reporting students as Proficient, when in fact they are Below Basic, there is definite cause for concern.

Before continuing, please be advised that Basic does not necessarily mean that a student knows their “basics.” That word is misleading. Students testing at Basic are not at their grade level. More than likely they are one to two grades below, possibly more for older students.

What is amazing is that 60% of the states report students in 4th grade as being Proficient when they are actually Below Basic, or substantially below their grade level.

To revert this President Obama, Secretary of Education Duncan and a host of others are calling for Educational Reform. A much vocalized part of this reform are things like longer school days and perhaps no or much shorter summer vacation.

Main Streeters, it is NOT reform (i.e., to change to a better state, form, etc.; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc) that is needed.

It needs to be reiterated that what is needed to halt the decline in our educational prowess is, quite simply and remarkably, to return to the basics: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, formerly known as the 3 R’s: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

The National Institute of Justice claims that 85% of juvenile offenders have problems with reading, writing and basic math and that well over 65% of adults in prison are functionally or marginally illiterate.

The 3 R’s must be slammed back in with a vengeance.

Get rid of philosophical beliefs that a child’s self esteem is hurt if they are told that they have failed, so pass them to the next grade and make them feel good.

Yeah, they’ll feel “good.”

But they cannot read.

They cannot write.

They cannot perform basic math problems.

How irresponsible is it to not provide the best education possible and, instead, point fingers at teachers, at parents, at administrators, etc., to avert the blame.

Wake Up Everybody!

We are ALL to blame. We ALL allowed this slow transition to mediocrity.

And we are paying for it. Every day, in every way.

Campaign to get the 3 R’s back in our schools. Accept nothing less. Vote out anyone who opposes the idea. And have them take the 1895 8th Grade Final Exam from Salina, KS, and watch as they score below 50%, probably between 30-40%.

Tell them that back in 1895 we taught the 3 R’s, had summer vacations and that Main Street USA enjoyed a very high level of educational competence.

Over For Now,

Main Street One