Letter: Students shouldn’t be numbers
Students shouldn’t be numbers
The Aspen Times recently reported that the Roaring Fork School District has hired a new director of curriculum, assessment and instruction. This article also outlined the district’s focus for the coming years.
Here are some of the phrases that were in that article: standards-based teaching, increased need to assist our schools in analyzing student data, measuring outcomes, more data crunching, tracking of students, increasing emphasis on standards-based education.
Here are some phrases that were note in that article: creating lifelong learners,fostering critical thinking skills,� supporting children to become ingenious, out-of -the-box problem solvers, letting teachers decide appropriate academic strategies for their students challenging gifted learners so they are not bored in school.�
After reading the same article, a friend of mine remarked, “Why don’t they hire a director of curiosity instead?” This over-emphasis on data and standardized testing is dismaying. Children are not data! They are humans, filled with potential, who will thrive only if they are properly supported in nurturing learning environments. Who decided that we need standardized children anyway? Shouldn’t our community be filled with phenomenal, curious, happy children instead?
Standardized curriculum and the use of standardized tests to prove student achievement is not unique to our local schools; it is an unfortunate national trend. The teaching-to-the test ideology permeates most decisions schools make for our children. But ask virtually any teacher, parent or student and they will tell you they do not like this system. So why are we allowing our money to be spent on this system? It isn’t effective, it stifles teaching innovation, it prevents children from loving learning. Does our community really want our children to be standardized, test-taking automatons, or do we want our tax dollars spent to support deep, rich learning that produces bright, innovative citizens?
Here is a selection of comments I have heard recently from local parents and students I know: My child has so much homework, but I’m not sure he’s learning anything except how to take tests. My ninth-grade math class is too easy but the school won’t allow me to take a higher level class. My fourth-grader was up till 1 a.m. because of test anxiety.�My sixth-grader is afraid that his teacher will get fired if he doesn’t do well on the test.
To change this broken system, citizens must start our own discussion, outside of the conventional school channels. Aspen is in a separate school district, but they should also participate in this citizen-led forum. Our valley community really extends from Aspen to Glenwood, and our children overlap at so many junctures.
Spring is a hectic time for families and teachers, so this conversation series will happen over the summer months. Hopefully, many citizens, parents, teachers and students will participate in the discussions in each town. If you think our schools can do better, please contact me now so that you can be invited once the dates and locations of these meetings have been established. I can be reached at 970-927-4627 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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