Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Announcement from the Future Secretary of Education

My fellow fellow teachers, I am here to announce a radical shift in the nature of our educational system.

In years past, we have used grade levels as a measure of educational achievement with standardized tests used to assess our level of success in educating our youth. However, this system allowed for disproportionate educational achievement. Natural human bias and teaching styles have allowed some students to proceed through the grades without learning the standards which they were supposed to learn. Schools have started taking short cuts to make it appear as if more academic success is being met than is actually the case...schools that do not have "on-grade level" classes, but only advanced and honors classes. Students moving through the grades despite scoring regularly below grade level on standardized tests. How have we been able to justify teaching a student ninth grade material when the student failed to demonstrate mastery of 8th grade standards? Social advancement has been practiced nationwide to move students up who never passed a class but were becoming too old for the grade in which they stagnated. How can we justify giving diplomas to students who graduated simply due to our frustration with their unwillingness to take school work seriously?

Those days are over.

Starting with select pilot districts and spreading to every public school district in the nation, the grade level system will be abolished. Age will no longer be a driving force in student advancement.

Students will take a computerized standardized test. The nature of the test will be adaptive to the test taker. Age will not be factored into the scored response. You will be able to clearly see how much more a 15 year old knows than a 5 year old by looking at the scores. The test will largely be skill based. The score a student makes will show administrators where the student's skill level is and classes will be assigned based on that score. This will insure students will not be taught something of which they already have mastery.

There will still be elementary, middle, and high schools where students will be sent to based on age, but classes within the schools will range based on the needs of the students' abilities. Thus, in theory, the same skills, the same basic class, may be taught in both a high school and an elementary school.

Diplomas will have on them the skill levels in the four core courses that they achieved at graduation. Students will begin to be responsible for their education. The value of their diploma will be in their hands, their dedication.

No longer will an 18 year old be forced to leave school because of success. They will now have the option to remain in school until the age of 21 to reach a skill level they desire.

Personal responsibility for one's education, a diploma that actually means something, and a focus on skills rather than age will lead to an education system that works and a stronger society.

Thank you.


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