Our School Board–and the 4th pathway
Yesterday our Superintendent and one of our school board members came by to the last faculty meeting before the first day of school. It was one of those meetings where we were going to go over bus schedules, lunch duties, who sits where in the cafeteria, etc. EVERY teacher’s favorite meeting, right? But it began with our school board member talking.
Now you have to know how much I respect our school board. Years ago, I blogged about them here, where I talk about them being a learning board. They are thoughtful, question-asking thinkers who listen and learn and deeply care about the learners in our system.
Steve Koleszar, our Chair, came to our school yesterday, and I’d just like to share some quotes from what he said.
1. The poor quality of the VA SOL assessments is the biggest threat to education in Albemarle County Public Schools.
To hear it posed that strongly blew me away. The biggest threat? Yeah, it is–I completely resent the time wasted on test prep and getting kids to answer stupid questions, or do a dictated writing prompt weekly, or read books just to answer comprehension questions, or do math just to get the problem right…not for understanding.
2. We, as a board, believe it is more important that our kids can DO, rather than pass a test.
Thus, the emphasis on maker curriculum (which, by the way, is the 4th pathway.) Our board has supported a maker summer school, renovations in our schools to support making, and professional development that supports teacher understanding of making through doing it themselves!
Let me be perfectly clear. Neither Mr. Koleszar nor our Superintendent are against assessment. Nor is anyone else in our Central office, or, I believe, a leadership position in this system. The overwhelming belief, though, is that assessment should be meaningful, make sense, inform the learner, make a difference and be based in reality–something that the learner will use and find useful in real life.
3. Everything we do as a Board is focused on improving instruction.
Our board has supported a Math, Engineering and Science Academy, and Health and Sciences Medical Academy, and many, many other opportunities that support our learners in a variety of ways. We have not reduced art, music and PE during the budget woes in our county. We still have recess, and believe it is important that children be children while they learn–so they should be active and talk, not be silent as they learn.
Then, Pam Moran, our Superintendent stood up and said “Creativity, curiosity, passion and engagement are all sucked out of kids with SOLs.”
Can people understand the craziness of high-stakes, standardized testing any better?