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Letters to the Editor

Iowa’s proficiency dropping in ranks

On April 10, the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results were released. In the past, Iowa education officials would find a way to put a positive spin on Iowa numbers, hoping no one would actually visit the website and figure out the reality. The media has blindly gone along with this “fake news” approach. Has anyone seen any news articles about 2017 NAEP scores this year?

Based on past spins, a likely scenario Iowa officials might have followed would be to point out that fourth-grade reading scores fell two points from the 2015 assessments, putting them about even with the national average. The reality of the situation lies with the breakdown of percentages into the following categories: below basic, basic (Iowa standards for proficient), proficient (national grade level) and above proficient (about international level). Iowa’s proficiency levels are dropping in ranking with other states because at least 30 states have improved their teacher training programs, so they are using the correct materials for concept-based education and training teachers effective teaching techniques, while Iowa’s programs continue to use materials with wrong education theories and wrong teaching techniques (according to the National Council for Teacher Quality — NCTQ — that does the annual assessments).

For the last five decades, under the system of memorization, Iowa educators pretended to be good by continuously lowering standards and blaming students who could not succeed in a system of memorization. This created an “alternate reality” that avoided taking responsibility for a dysfunctional system by blaming everyone else. Who is to blame, for example, for Iowa’s elementary teacher training programs continuing to use the wrong materials for education theories and teaching methods? Are students to blame? Is state spending to blame? Whose responsibility is it to get them to stop using memorization and low standards? Years of failing grades by the NCTQ, specifically telling them what they were doing wrong has not brought change. At least two decades of falling NAEP scores and low proficiencies has not brought change. Thirteen years of No Child Left Behind ratings of increasing numbers of failing Iowa schools did not bring change.

As Iowa’s education system continues to try to use all the “right words” they have memorized for today’s reality of returning to concept-based education, their failure to actually implement continues showing up in national reports with a drop in state ranking. Alternate reality fails.

Sue Atkinson

Newton

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