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Letters to the Editor

Iowa not raising its standards

Seventeen years ago, No Child Left Behind required states to raise their standards up to the national standards set in the legislation — and Iowa still fails to do this because educators lack the ability. The Every Student Succeeds Act extended the timeline to achieve national standards, but Iowa-written curriculum fails to rise to national standards.

As more Iowa educators get involved in discussions about effective teaching methods, the quality of those discussions is affected by the poorly written Iowa curriculum they are required by the state to use (whose standards are not up to the national level). Failing to take these important factors into account lowers the quality of analysis used in those discussions. Also lowered is the quality of the decisions made from those discussions.
Another important factor is the Iowa Assessments — based on Iowa’s lower standards. Lower standards inflate the results, which affect the understanding of the scores as well as the quality of the discussions and the decision-making that follows.

This poor decision-making is already reflected by the existence of a state task force on dyslexia, using the false conclusion students experiencing difficulties with reading must have a medical condition. The National Reading panel (that wrote the report leading to the national Common Core reading curriculum and standard) included studies from the 1950s that clearly showed considerably fewer symptoms of dyslexia when effective teaching methods were used with the five reading concepts. Some of the concepts were dropped when the transition to memorization was made, and Iowa’s teacher training programs adopted this false approach as valid, rationalizing several excuses to continue using ideas that did not work.

What Iowa educator discussions can do to improve their process is begin by asking student assessment scores be recalibrated to national standards so improved information can be used to improve decision-making — rather than continuing to use the false information that uses Iowa’s lower standards. This will then begin pointing to the poor quality of the Iowa curriculum as well as the teaching methods. Both of these can be improved — if the educators in control of this will allow the national Common Core reading curriculum to be used (just as the national Common Core math curriculum is being used). Both of these actions will improve the quality of the teacher discussions on how best to effectively teach students, thus reducing symptoms presently being misread as dyslexia.

Sue Atkinson

Baxter

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