Recent efforts have attempted to address overtesting in our schools–but state leaders need to focus on not just fewer tests, but on overhauling how and why we test.
1. Tie tests to standards-based units, for more frequent, lower-stakes assessments that replace other grading and end-of-year testing.
2. Measure mastery of standards: Students can see their progress and not be penalized if mastery doesn’t happen on the first try; understanding whether students are getting at least a year’s worth of learning growth each year becomes as easy as adding up how many standards they mastered.
3. Stop tying student results to pay for performance, to eliminate incentives to cheat the system.
Using my experience in and out of government, I will forcefully and effectively advocate for enough resources to fulfill our state’s Constitutional obligation to provide a system of free public education.
- well-paid teachers and other staff,
- social, emotional, and health supports so that students are able to learn,
- adequate supports for teachers–such as professional development and assistants to manage classrooms, and
- extra support for schools that have higher needs.
Equity means, in part, deploying our resources where they are needed so that all students succeed.
It also means eliminating barriers to education that have affected certain groups over many years, including students of color, students with disabilities, and LBGTQ students.
Our state can do much better at providing the push needed to eliminate barriers such as exclusionary discipline, lack of culturally relevant materials, and lack of opportunity for rigorous content. If we want a great public school system throughout our state, we must create the conditions for all students to succeed.
Students can’t reap the benefits of education until they have basic needs met and feel safe and valued in school.
As a school board member and father, I deeply understand how safety is job #1 in our schools–and how concerned parents and students are about this. Our students and teachers will not feel safer by the state’s arming teachers or allowing more guns in our schools. We must do far more to ensure that all students have access to quality mental health services, and that we have solid school safety plans.
School resource officers can be a part of the safety solution, if schools are clear on their main role of forming relationships with students, vs. a disciplinary arm of the school.
From our state’s Constitution through the court case known as Leandro, every child in North Carolina has a clear right to be able to access a “sound, basic education.” I would go further in that to support the health of our state’s future, we need a high-quality education for each and every student. There are many important issues in our public schools today that have an impact on that goal. As a school board member, we have to be well-versed in all of them. My ongoing columns on issues and news are on my blog. I am happy to answer any specific questions or concerns through my contact page.