To the editor:
According to Elementary Education Services Director Jim Gilbert, “It has become a statistical improbability or impossibility, that one hundred percent of all kids, in all sub groups, in all schools, in all districts, in all subject areas are proficient.”
His comments reflect the thoughts of many in Iowa education, unfortunately, which is why Iowa is unable to raise student achievement about the 41st national percentile (when the 65th national percentile is grade level for the U.S.) and other states are moving past us. Such thoughts are part of the problem (the other part being the curriculum and teaching) rather than the solution.
All public schools had to do in 2001 was put concepts back into the curriculum, train teachers to effectively teach them, and begin with the kindergarteners. Each year, as students progressed through the system, focus on concept-based learning, using effective teaching of concepts, would increase the percentage of students at grade level until the final year, when the starting kindergartners reached 12th grade.
Fifty years of fake-it-and-call-it-good have taken a toll, leaving too many in Iowa education today unable to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to repair the damage.
Sue Atkinson, Ph.D.