According to the National Council for Teacher Quality, in an August 2018 report, only 37 percent of the teacher training programs in the country use all five of the reading concepts and effective teaching methods for the science of reading, which explains why assessments for fourth-grade reading on the National Assessment for Educational Progress show low grade-level proficiency — the highest being 51 percent in 2017.
Iowa’s averaged proficiency for fourth-grade reading in 2017 is 36 percent. For decades, Iowa’s teacher training programs have, falsely, taught that the problem lies with the students, not with the curriculum content and teaching methods used, which is why the standards had to be constantly lowered to pretend some students were doing well. Iowa standards remain below national grade level standards because memorization continues to be used at the elementary level, due to the poor quality of the teacher training programs, according to the NCTQ.
The NAEP web site allows a state’s demographics to be checked to determine how they compare to other states. In the 2017 report, 26 states out-performed Iowa fourth-graders at reading. Of these 26 states, 18 (66 percent) had a higher percentage of their students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs; 18 (66 percent) had a higher percentage of students with IEPs, and 11 (41 percent) had higher pupil/teacher ratio than Iowa. This data clearly tells us that Iowa educator excuses for poor performance are bogus.
The real problem, for decades, lies with the curriculum content and the teaching methods being used. To lay a better foundation at the elementary level, for more rigorous higher-level coursework, Iowa needs to use the national Common Core for reading as well as for math. Iowa teacher training needs to include effective teaching methods for concepts rather than relying on memorization.
Iowa cannot rise to national standards by continuing to pretend to be good, with low standards and false excuses; and Iowa is part of the reason the U.S. falls into the bottom half of industrialized countries taking the international PISA exams. Global competitiveness is at stake.
At this upcoming legislative session, schools should be given permission to opt out of the Iowa Core for reading and substitute the national Common Core. The Iowa Core was written by individuals who believe in memorization and the false excuses Iowa educators have used for decades to avoid accountability. Online K-12 programs should be excused from using the Iowa Core and Iowa-licensed teachers.