Are Oregon School Districts Setting Low Standards OR Afraid to Take Risks? (Rudy Crew’s Response to District Achievement Compacts)

Dear All:

During this incredible week of student posts and conversations, I’m sneaking in a brief post because it’s important to keep informed about Oregon’s new Chief Education Officer, his role, and his possible impact on raising standards and achievement (and hopefully a love of learning) in Oregon schools.  In a recent article (“Oregon School Officials Set Low Goals, Angering Education Chief Rudy Crew”), we get a glimpse of Crew in his new leadership role.  Oregon has recently received a NCLB waiver and schools submitted their achievement compact plans (as per Kitzhaber’s new state-wide plan) to detail district goals for achievement in the upcoming school year.  In this article, it appears that Crew’s anger stems from a number of mostly unnamed (except for Gladstone) bigger districts that are setting low goals for student achievement in the next year.

The setting of low expectations and the response from Crew both deserve examination.  For me, both raise important questions.  We all know that students will rise to higher expectations if challenged to do so, but in an atmosphere geared toward standardized testing, evaluating teacher performance based on student scores, and labeling schools in a new but similar way to NCLB (we can not pretend that the labels “priority” and “focus” do not mean “in needs of improvement” even though they have a more hopeful tone), can we expect schools to set higher standards with the possibility of failure?  In my experience, those moments when I failed often ended up being my best learning experiences.  Being willing to take a risk means that we could have huge success or the opposite, but maybe in this culture of mediocre learning standards and restrictions on creativity and critical thinking, a risk is worth it.  And maybe Crew is asking us to take that risk?  

When my children enter school, I can only hope that they will be allowed to take chances without fearing punishment or utter failure.  As a newish parent, I’ve already realized that if something is not good enough for my own children, it’s not good enough for any child in my community.  And if it’s not good enough for any child in my community, it’s not good enough for any child in Oregon.  Let’s find concrete ways to support schools, kids, teachers, and administrators this year to really work together for real achievement…even if we have to take big risks.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts?  Do you think schools are at fault in these low expectations or is there more to the story?

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2 thoughts on “Are Oregon School Districts Setting Low Standards OR Afraid to Take Risks? (Rudy Crew’s Response to District Achievement Compacts)

  1. Zapoura,
    I appreciate your questions concerning achievement standards in the Oregon school system. Are lower standards a safer route in an effort to prevent failure, or should standards be set high enough to challenge the student body in a collective effort to be raised as one? I am very much in support of high education standards. I am often so discouraged when I hear of the “requirements” for students to complete high school, or middle school. Our system seems to be geared for individuals who can either excel at standardize test taking, or maneuver the hoops to jump through in order to graduate with the least resistance. Accountability for the education of our students is crucial, and lowering the standards for students is a jump in the wrong direction. To me, it reflects laziness and abandonment from children, who are in need of leadership. A recipe for disaster is a standardize “level” of success though. Each individual school, teacher, and student should be considered when evaluating success, and not blanketing achievement over an entire state. That plan failed in the past, and will continue to do so unless it becomes more individual.

    The bigger question I must ask is; What existing boundaries limit the school administration from becoming involved in the personal, and family lives? Success of a child’s education does depend on school, teachers, peers, and funding, but a very large portion of success is advocation and involvement of the parents. A combined effort to raise standards, and increased involvement of the administration in the personal and family lives of students is needed to achieve success.

  2. I think that schools should set high expectations, but with minor to no consequences if students fail. Like you mentioned before, if someone fails, they will probably push themselves harder to become more successful. If they keep failing though, I believe that the consequences should be more severe than before. If that isn’t successful for the students, than I suggest that they lower the bar for those students who are having trouble. I believe that the schools shouldn’t be at completely at fault for the failure of students. As long as the teachers are successfully educating all of the students, with little to no problems, then I believe that the parents should be able to ensure that their child is staying on top of their work.

    This is just my opinion, but I think that parents are the main source of ensuring their children are doing their homework and staying on top of everything – considering that children spend a lot of time at home. Parents bring in the majority of distractions into their home, so I believe that the parents should regulate those things and ensure that their children are doing the necessary work for school.

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