30 Years After A Nation at Risk – Risky Business
By Jonathan T. Jefferson, Ed.D.
Author of MUGAMORE…
“It’s like déjà vu all over again.” In 1983, the once internationally prominent
education system was unceremoniously awakened.
A Nation at Risk: The Imperative
for Educational Reform was released by President Ronald Reagan’s National
Commission on Excellence in Education.
Politics aside, it can be said that this report lead to an assessment
Standardized tests of achievement (not to be confused with aptitude tests) should be administered at major transition points from one level of schooling to another and particularly from high school to college or work. The purpose of these tests would be to: (a) certify the student’s credentials; (b) identify the need for remedial intervention; and (c) identify the opportunity for advanced or accelerated work. The tests should be administered as part of a nationwide (but not Federal) system of State and local standardized tests. This system should include other diagnostic procedures that assist teachers and students to evaluate student progress. (A Nation at Risk)
At the time of this Commission’s report, the
was still among the educational leaders on the world’s stage. Thirty years later, and our country is
struggling to maintain its status in the top twenty. What is the answer now? Will Common Core State Standards (CCSS) close
the gap? It remains to be seen whether
or not CCSS is the answer, but already risky measures are being implemented.
Statewide assessment tests are being developed to measure how well students are meeting the CCSS. In some states (e.g.
the results of statewide assessment tests are being used to evaluate teachers
and principals. This is quite risky
indeed. There are teachers who have been
previously identified as highly effective who are now reluctant to teach
struggling learners. These teachers are
concerned that low scores by struggling learners on state assessments will
reflect poorly when the teacher is rated.
Other consequences of these measures may include a rush to label
students with a disability (ADD, ADHD, ED, etc.). Once deemed disabled, the onus of the
student’s poor test scores is no longer on the teacher or principal.