To the editor:
A June 5 article in the Jasper County Tribune continued the tradition of the past 50-60 years of schools using the news media to misrepresent student proficiency, thus misleading the public as to the quality of work these public institutions are doing. The way the con has worked during the past 5-6 decades is the dumbing down of the assessment tests every three to four years.
Without disclosing this dumbing down of the assessments, school officials report increased student proficiency. Lower and lower standards make it easy for school officials to fake increased proficiencies! This is how public schools got so far behind grade level the last several decades, without the public knowing about it.
The news media has several roles in our system of self-government, and one of those roles is watchdog for government. This means that media failure to include the dumbing down of assessment tests, and explaining Iowa’s low Proficiency Standard, in an article about student proficiencies, is an abandonment of this watchdog role.
Following in past tradition, the Jasper County Tribune failed to report in its June 5 article touting increased student proficiencies for Colfax-Mingo and Baxter schools the following: 1) Iowa’s use of the pathetically low 41st NPR as the Proficiency Standard rather than the 65th NPR for grade level (used by many other states and being surpassed by other countries); and 2) the fact that the assessments had been dumbed down (which a school board or media check of the Iowa Dept. of Education would quickly disclose). These failures meant the media was aiding and abetting a public school con on the public by the public schools — in an attempt to appear better than they really are.
Actually being better would be preferable, but those in public education today have no idea how to go about this. They should really be reading the National Council on Teacher Quality reports and learning what they did not learn in school because they, themselves, are products of a proven loser of a system.
Sue Atkinson, PhD