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Memorization persists in Iowa schools

Published: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 10:41 a.m. CDT

The Iowa legislative session for this year is over, and some are bemoaning the low increase in school funding. According to the OECD, which administers the international PISA assessments in addition to collecting other data from countries around the world, the countries out-educating us are doing so at less cost per student than we are spending in this country for abysmal results.

National assessments using NAEP show Iowa scores static, but what the public is not being told is that Iowa’s ranking is plummeting with regard to other states (that are figuring out what they have been doing wrong) – but not Iowa.

Iowa even has to use a low standard for grade level rather than the national grade standard because of the inability to effectively teach concepts and their applications to the various learning styles to get proficiencies higher.  

Unfortunately, most of Iowa’s teachers and administrators are products of the system of memorization that blamed students for not being able to learn in a system discriminating against them, so their training must include the education they did not receive, along with the effective methods of teaching concepts to various learning styles. Any teacher, including elementary, using memorization of any kind is using poor teaching techniques, is discriminating against learning styles incompatible with memorization, and failing to raise proficiencies that can demonstrate a grasp of concepts and their applications. Any teacher claiming memorization is necessary clearly lacks the training and understanding of the requirements for education today to get us back up to the world standards this country chose to abandon.

Even schools succeeding in getting teachers to change their teaching methods, are failing at effectively remediating the mess they already created. Special education fails to remediate. Summer school failed to remediate, so removing its funding is actually saving money that was being wasted anyway. Any educators claiming otherwise are documenting their lack of skills and understanding of concepts.

Memorizing words rather than learning the correct phonics that has rules for all words in our language cheats students of knowing how to sound out words for improved reading and spelling proficiencies. Memorizing math facts (usually with flash cards) cheats students of learning the underlying math processes necessary for understanding math operations and applying them at successively higher levels. Elementary teachers who do not know this document the failure of teacher training programs, that keep Iowa student proficiencies below national grade level.

Sue Atkinson


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