The transition to standards-based education has been underway for years, so why has it been so difficult for school systems to implement standards-based grading? One reason, I believe, is that educators inadvertently underestimate the magnitude of the change in terms of tradition. Letter grades, and the traditional way in which most students are still graded, is deeply ingrained in our culture. Parents, teachers, community members... all of them, as students, were graded using traditional methods. Nearly all colleges continue to use traditional methods of grading.
Is the age of accountability in Education turning you into someone that you don't want to be? School systems have been under significant scrutiny for years, and the pressure has mounted over time. With politicians, the press, members of the public, and governing boards raising the bar and expecting better results with fewer resources and given greater challenges, all educational leaders are under great stress. Actually, I would go so far as to say that it is beyond stress. Many school leaders are actually under threat. Make changes, or else. Improve scores, or else.
It's not fun to write about mistakes, or even to think about them. But there is a mistake that is rampant in our schools right now - and it's time that we learn from it and move on. Don't cringe when you read this! We are using accommodations to mask the need to improve students' fluency with math facts. There - I've said it!
School systems can't be complacent when it comes to helping students choose a healthy and productive lifestyle, but effective drug and violence prevention programs are often a low priority in our high schools. While the primary mission of schools is to promote academic progress, students must be safe and healthy before they can excel academically. A holistic approach to education is needed to ensure that all students are prepared to thrive in school and meet with success as adults. However, it is difficult for educators to 'fit everything in'.
What does your organization seek to accomplish in the next five years? If this isn't known across your school system, you're probably on the road to wherever. Is that good enough for your students and your community? Many school systems lack focus and a long-term vision of success. School leaders may an idea of where the organization is headed, but the vision is individual; neither known or by supported by the stakeholders that must move the schools forward.
How often are key professionals thrown into their positions without the support they need to grow and flourish? Are these important individuals provided with professional learning that is sustained, collaborative and relevant? There is an alternative to the 'good luck' approach to induction that is often the norm for professionals who hold unique roles within our school systems.
Can Special Ed come to my birthday party? What kinds of stories does Truffle like to read? Is Lily due for a check-up? Can Surprise run fast? These well-formed questions are music to any speech pathologist’s ears but who are Special Ed, Truffle, Lily and Surprise? They are registered Pet Partners® who accompany me to work as a speech pathologist. CommuniK-9, Inc. is a speech therapy practice that incorporates specially trained Pet Partners®.
If you are like me, you tend to believe that people, especially children, are naturally curious and 'hard wired' to learn. A mismatch between the way students learn and the traditional structure of schooling is a likely scapegoat when students are unmotivated or unable to demonstrate learning. However, in the first Chapter (Why don't students like learning at school?) of their book, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn, Hattie and Yates concisely explain the reality of human curiosity and motivation to learn.