What really matters as we voice our concerns about the coming school year? We should have the same aspirations for all of our students. As educators, we must coordinate our efforts and focus on the value of learning. All students need adequate assessment and programming to improve educational outcomes and to reduce the gap in achievement between students in various demographic groups.
The FCAT revealed specific areas of weakness, but we are now about to introduce the Common Core curriculum, which seeks to elevate educational expectations for students across the country. The real concern now, after 14 years of confusion, misunderstanding and doubt about how a school’s success is determined, is: Do the classifications of A, B, C, D and F objectively reflect how learning takes place or is this a reflection of a movement that needs immediate change?
Let’s work to give students who live in poverty an unparalleled opportunity to have a successful school year so that they can overcome the devastating effects of being poor. That gridlock can be broken with adequate financial resources and effective programming where the needs are greatest.
Students from poverty-stricken neighborhoods desperately need effective schooling to teach them key life skills. Therefore, it’s time to produce an excellent 2013-2014 school year. To enhance student achievement, let’s:
• Establish positive beliefs that students can achieve. Encourage students to perform at their very best level at all times. Give them security, motivation, inspiration and understanding.
• Focus on key areas of weakness as revealed from quarterly assessments; prepare new strategies to boost achievement every nine weeks.
• Present students with Golden Achievement Awards to honor their progress on a regular basis.
• Provide greater specifications of curriculum standards and outcomes with more focus on the key areas of weakness.
• Enhance and elevate achievement in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
• Plan parental-involvement programs.
• Improve writing skills.
• Provide more individualized teaching based on each student’s needs and strengths.
• Focus on programs and ideas that we know can affect student performance.
• Ensure that teachers are well-prepared so that they can meet the needs of every student.
• Provide a school atmosphere with safety, carefree and welcoming places for teaching and learning.
• Work continuously on turning priorities into specific action-oriented proposals for success.
All things are possible if we only believe that it can be done and we believe wholeheartedly in improving student achievement.
Maureen Stafford Bethel, retired principal, Broward County Public Schools, Miami Gardens