Aya Academy of Excellence

Classroom Calculus: The Ed Reform Equation

Much ado about nothing has been plaguing the internet for the last several months.  Educators with years of classroom experience have been pitted against newbies who have never seen a chalkboard.  Pundits with little to no classroom experience have been proponents of every initiative offered by people with no vested in interest in education aside from the very lucrative bottom line the education industry offers.  And to what avail?  Classroom teachers see the marking off of school day, after school of the 180 day calendar with child-after-child still struggling to perform academically and keep their head above water emotionally. So cutting to the chase, below are a series of solutions to end the squabbling of how to ‘fix’ America’s broken system so that we can take action and support our children.

Issue #1: Teacher Pay and the VAA

Until longitudinal data can be tracked and aligned to standards, teacher pay should not be dependent on student outcomes.  However, all teachers, completing the same job should have the same rate of pay within a local district.  This will eliminate pay increases based on years of service and instead make pay tied to the job performed by the educator. 

Additionally, the ratio of non-teaching personnel including administrators and clerks should be vastly reduced to diminish the bloat on school budgets.  Teachers should be required to perform one ancillary duty needed at building level – counseling, technology support, etc.  The old adage TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More would be implemented into a flat management model versus the towering Giza hierarchy existing within most school districts.

Once longitudinal data can be ascertained and shown valid for tracking student outcomes with teacher performance without extraneous considerations such as one classroom full of English second language learners versus another without, then it can and should be used for merit pay and teacher removal.

Issue #2: Class Size

Less is more.  Smaller class sizes enable teachers to more proficiently tend to the divergent learning needs of today’s classrooms.  However, the more, the better is also true and to attend to the needs of learners, schools need to extend their school calendars beyond the traditional 180 days.  This change should not be at any additional rate of pay for educators  because although we all enjoy an extended summer, the number of students receiving remediation in the months of June and July is a clear indication that this system is not working to the benefit of children.

Issue #3: Teaching for the Test

Anyone with knowledge of how poorly exams are constructed including the very low threshold needed to meet standards would have no issue with teaching for the test.  However, the insanity does not lie with the tests themselves but the outrageous number of standards embedded within the curriculum.  Teachers scramble with ‘covering’ curriculum instead of allowing students to ‘uncover’ the curriculum.   Changing the curriculum…better yet, reducing the number of standards to allow for cogent teaching of content will increase the level of proficient teaching and learning.  Educators are attacking the wrong beast – grab your pitchforks and stab the standards folks, not the tests.

I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to focus on the learning in the classroom.  are you ready to join me?


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