Good Education Revolves Around Parenting

Unless you avoid all news outlets and media, you must have noticed by now the deluge of news stories and chatter surrounding education reform – including spotlights on some of the bigger players in this debate. Michelle Rhee is one of them, and she recently came under fire for some controversial news items regarding her reform methods and results.

On March 31, 2011, a news story was published on the Website Good ( titled Three Lessons Education Reformers Should Learn From Michelle Rhee’s Missteps. While I prefer not to comment directly on the controversy surrounding this story, I would like to provide my personal insight, experience and opinion regarding standardized testing in school, SAT/ACT testing for college admissions and measuring the level of teacher effectiveness.

When it comes to standardized testing in schools, I agree that test scores cannot be the bottom line for determining a teacher’s level of effectiveness. In that same vein, SAT and ACT scores should not be the bottom line for getting into college. Coincidently, I say this even though I own a  test prep company!

The bottom line is that some students are just not good test-takers. Thankfully, students need to be well rounded on the college application – test scores, school scores, level of difficulty of classes, community service, etc. The same goes for teacher evaluations (i.e. determining a teacher’s effectiveness) – the methods used should be well rounded and embrace multiple measures of evaluation.

I work in many school districts and I see teachers giving it “their all” – going beyond the call of duty, being creative within the classroom and holding students accountable. Yet, so much relies on parental support and engagement and unfortunately, this aspect of student and teacher success is rarely acknowledged or discussed. If the benefit of education and school is not valued at home, students will not excel within the classroom – making teacher effectiveness look bad. Read: Not the teacher’s fault.

School administration also plays a large part in teacher and student success. I have visited schools where a particular teacher was excellent – engaging, giving feedback, challenging students – yet individual student behaviors brought down the effectiveness within the classroom. Administration failed to back the disciplinary requests or value the teachers input. If administrators are constantly placing the blame on staff, rather than supporting efforts, it makes it very difficult for a teacher to succeed. Some schools also push too many initiatives, without providing teachers enough time to prepare. As soon as one initiative is implemented, another becomes fashionable and the teacher’s success rate is left in the dust, along with the student’s ability to grasp the concepts.

In the end, we do not have just one thing or one method to blame for the current state of education in this country. Just the same, there is not a quick fix or a definitive answer on how to make much needed improvements. We must work together… parents, students, educators and administrators to enhance and supplement each other’s contributions for the greater good of our children.

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