Thursday, December 18, 2008
There have been several stories recently about how well area school districts are (or aren't) performing based on a variety of measuring methods. What's not in the stories may be just as relevant and important.
One of the stories, for example, mentioned some districts that haven't done so well -- as measured by federal standards -- are being recognized for excellence on the state level. How can that be? One explanation is that standardized tests are the primary measurement on the federal level, while other factors are included in the state recognition.
Some area districts have performed well at both the federal and state level, while others have mixed results.
There is something that should be remembered in all of this: Most school districts turn out some outstanding students who receive top honors and are eligible for sizable college scholarships. They do well on ACT and SAT scores. Some are National Merit Scholar semifinalists and finalists. They win congressional appointments to U.S. military academies.
These students are exposed to the same curriculum, instruction and administrative policies as the students who don't do well in areas measured for compliance with state and federal programs. They succeed while others struggle or fail.
There are many reasons, but most high-achiever students want a good education, want to do well enough to get into college, want to receive scholarships and want to learn academic and related skills for success. Their desire is most often fostered by interested parents who remind them that the prize for doing well in school is success for the rest of your life.
Our school districts are full of teachers who want to help their students to do well and have an opportunity to reap the rewards that come from working hard. If there are teachers who don't share these goals, they shouldn't be teaching. But the real burden of success in school rests on the shoulders of the students themselves. Finding ways to help them succeed is an obligation we all share.