Test scores reveal the need for district to revolt

In a few days, the state will release letter grades for schools. When they are released parents should look beyond the actual grade itself, but to the components that make up the grade.

School board members are from the Southside and should be concerned that regardless of the letter grade a school receives, the score does not come close to measuring the worth of a school and the effectiveness of teachers.
The letter grade ignores too many teaching elements and rewards only those components important to specific industries looking for entry level workforce applicants or STEM applicants.

The district pressures principals and teachers to “teach to the test” to get better scores. One subject that is not considered important on the LEAP 2025 test is social studies; it is not a STEM course. As a result, the district tolerates the subject because as far as the state is concerned, it doesn’t count.

Social studies help students understand the world in which they live, the history of the country, its cultures, and its heritage. It results in better citizen participation, respect for law and order, and increased involvement in decision making of the community, especially voting.

Citizens who do not understand social studies have difficulty connecting cultural dots or understanding how government operates. They usually can’t see how voting, elections or responding to the census effects them. For African-Americans, it is frightening, because this impacts the quality of the future leaders of our race.

That’s why it should concern the Black Board members that 83 percent of the students at Carroll High School scored below basic in Social Studies or U.S. History. Wossman was close behind with 65 percent of its students below basic in this area.

Students didn’t suddenly slip in high school, the Social Studies trend began in earlier grades. At Carroll Junior high, 76 percent of the students scored below basic. Martin Luther King Jr. High which feeds into Wossman had 54 percent below basic.

Shelling Elementary which feeds into Carroll Jr. High had 48 (6th grade) percent below basic and Barkdull Faulk which feeds Martin Luther King had 64 percent of its 6th graders score below basic.

The differences in the performances between Northside and Southside Schools is especially notable when compared: Neville High only had 34% percent below basic and its feeder, Lee Jr. High had only 39% below basic in Social Studies.

Social studies is not alone. The LEAP2025 does not even measure student performance in music, arts, dance, theater, creative writing foreign language or literature. Its primary focus is on turning out students who can fit into entry level jobs of the state’s major industries with just enough reading, writing and understanding of numbers to get by as an employee in the digital age.

LEAP2025 prepares students for work, but it does not teach them how the system works.

While the focus of this article is about Social Studies, the fact that the LEAP2025 does not measure any subject not related to jobs should be a concern.

The Monroe City Schools can opt out of the LEAP2025. What?  The entire system should urge parents (indirectly) to opt out of the state testing program. If most students don’t show up on test day, the scores won’t mean anything.

In the interim, the school board should get a superintendent who can craft a program of education that focuses on preparing every student to graduate able to read, write, think, compute and understand abstract ideas on a 12th grade level. In addition, the district should prepare elective courses that also give students the option of pursuing a labor related vocation if they choose.

The district can and should devise its own method of evaluating its schools, and completely opt out of the state’s program. If it does, other districts will follow because they have the same complaint.

That will take a lot of courage and board members who are willing to buck the system.

It will be radical, and it will make enemies in high places, but it will save our children.

We would be the first school district in the state with the courage to say “enough is enough.”

Are there any takers?