Monday, October 29, 2012

Be careful of what you read...

What is really going on in our nation’s schools? 

I attended a conference last week and it really got me thinking about the perception of public schools.  Nationally, the assumption from the media is that our public schools are failing.  We must be careful as we wade through what may be considered truth by a certain few.  PISA is the international test the media often refers to when gauging successful education systems.  PISA stands for the Program for International Student Assessment.  Students are chosen at random in the countries that participate.  In 2009, the United States ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in mathematics.  We are in the middle of the pack based on international comparisons and it is cause for concern.  These statistics state the we are behind, but are we?  The United States consistently ranks the best on the Global Competitive Index, which means our economy is strong and our people are competitive.  Yong Zhao, the author of, “Catching up or Leading the Way,” says that the higher the nation’s scores on PISA the less innovative those countries are.  International test scores are not a valid predictor of national success. 

Our public schools, teachers and principals are constantly under the microscope.  Nationally, our worst public schools have begun to represent all public schools in United States.  The large percentage of schools in North Dakota are great schools, and Rugby is no different.  We consistently rank well above the state average on the North Dakota State Assessment and the ACT.  There have been recent reports that the ACT and SAT scores are at an all-time low.  The scores are lower, but we must look at the reasons as to why this is before we can make assumptions.  In North Dakota, we primarily use the ACT for college entrance.  As of three years ago the state of North Dakota now requires all juniors to take the ACT, in the past it was voluntary.  Until this mandate only students that were going to attend college took the ACT.  100% of all juniors in the state of North Dakota take the ACT, which has decreased the overall score.  The reality is that more students are taking the ACT and SAT than ever before, this has caused the decline in scores. 

Don’t get me wrong like any organization we have areas that we need to improve upon, but the majority of our nation’s schools are doing an excellent job at educating our youth.  Please be weary of the assumptions the media may make in regards to our schools.  

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