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System not allowing equality in education

Published: Wednesday, July 5, 2017 11:09 a.m. CDT

Fifteen years after the government intervened in education to get it back on track, Iowa’s education system continues to show it does not understand what No Child left Behind, and the updated 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, really mean, thus violating Supreme Court decisions regarding equality in education.

Each and every time educators falsely presume a student is to blame for poor results – as was the practice for over 60 years – that false presumption prevents a more in-depth analysis of the curriculum content and teaching methods in use that created low student proficiencies. Iowa educators may be using concept-based curriculum for the competency-based education they are supposed to be offering, but the methods in use are still based on memorization rather than effectively teaching concepts to the learning styles. 

In addition to this problem, students who fell behind in developing proficiencies before the transition to concept-based curriculum, remain behind because teachers falsely presume them to be disabled rather than needing effective remediation. Of course, for effective remediation, teachers must be able to effectively teach concepts to the learning styles, and that is not happening in far too many Iowa schools.  

These two major problems combine to cause Iowa proficiency rankings on NAEP to be falling with regard to the increasing number of states that are figuring this out. While Iowa educators insist NAEP scores remain stagnant, what they are failing to disclose to the public is the fact that the rankings are dropping – because scores of other states are improving as teachers learn to effectively teach concepts to the learning styles (which puts them in a better position to effectively remediate), so their scores are rising toward national grade level standards. Iowa does not even use national grade level standards because to do so would reveal their “dirty little secret” to the public.

Language in both NCLB and ESSA includes accountability, and states are accountable for the results they produce. For 60 years, Iowa continually lowered standards and only counted high scores to artificially look good rather than actually being good (with no accountability), but they mistakenly believe they had a good system, so are only trying now to tweak it. What other states are figuring out is that they must abandon the system of memorization that falsely blamed students, and embrace a new system (today termed competency-based education). Iowa’s education needs effective remediation, but is not receiving it.

Sue Atkinson


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