We Need Avocados
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
The way that schools are measured is basically a lie. Yes, I said it. Schools are measured on a number of things related to testing. It is a combination of achievement, progress, and comparison to peers. But, students, teachers, administrators, and schools are just reduced to numbers, scores, and statistics.
Why is it a lie? Because periodically the state changes the formula. In 2015, the numbers were adjusted. Points for achievement went down. Progress (students compared to similar peers) went up. Closing the achievement gap went down. In addition, in 2015, a new test was used. New norms. (http://www.ajc.com/…/state-revises-…/nX9lS09zZwQPaJHEfCYyrK/)
What does this mean? Test scores, school grades, accountability measures—they are all created numbers. They are fabrications trying to measure the unmeasurable.
Now, does it give information about students, teachers, and schools? Yes. Absolutely. But, it only gives a sliver of the reality of schooling. Imagine if you were to determine the quality of a recipe by the amount of salt in it. Salt, while important, is only a part of the bigger picture. What about all of the other ingredients? The other day I made guacamole. Here is my recipe:
1 Medium Vidalia Onion
1 Serrano Pepper
1 Plum Tomato
2 Tablespoons of Cilantro Paste
2 Teaspoons of Himalayan Salt
Now, when I made it, I left out the salt at first. I figured the corn chips would have enough. They didn’t. I added the salt. It was much better. Was the salt important? Yes, it was. However, it was only a part of the recipe. In fact, it was the least important part. I could have lived without the salt. I couldn’t have lived without the avocados.
What we need in looking at our schools is looking more at the avocados, the onions, the peppers, the tomatoes, and the cilantro. We need to look at student engagement. We need to look at the depth of the curriculum. We need to look at the integration of the community. We need to look at college readiness (and I don’t meat SAT scores, but the realities of college) and career readiness. We need to look at authentic measures of learning that have meaning.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the School Board of Columbia County, Georgia.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.