This week we have seen three events that have shaped and will shape the educational scene for the future.
University of Texas Affirmative Action Case
First, the Supreme Court heard arguments in support of the University of Texas Affirmative Action Case and once again is considering the question of whether race should be a factor in the placement of students in schools. When I was a principal in the Kansas City Missouri School District’s court-ordered desegregation program, students were placed in magnet schools based on a ratio of 60% minority and 40% white students. The federal courts oversaw this placement, and it was considered legal at that time. Eventually, however, the placement of students based on race was found unconstitutional, and the program ended. What interests me about those affirmative action plans is that some researchers are saying the most effective programs to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students have been desegregation programs based on placement by race. I am sure this research is weighing heavily on the Supreme Court Justices right now.
Death of the No Child Left Behind Act
Second, the death of the No Child Left Behind Act was confirmed by a Senate vote of 85-12 to scrap it. You may have read the various articles about the Federal Government’s attempt to make public schools accountable for student achievement. Once the President signs the change into law, each state will be in charge of its efforts to improve education for all children. One positive outcome that I believe came from NCLB is the emphasis on research-based student intervention plans, which before were plans based on other incentives such as ease of use or popularity. The transfer of responsibility to the states may even change the state testing practices, and I expect that the state’s low average testing results will cause some more discontent about the current testing practices that Colorado has adopted.
Test Scores Released
Third, the release of Test Scores for each school in Colorado will be available today, and I will note ours below. I do not yet know when PSD schools will give out individual student test score information, but we should know soon when they will be released. The outcomes are surprising in my opinion, and because this is a baseline year it will be challenging to tease out meaningful implications until we have at least three years of test results.
|State Average||PSD Average||FCMS Average|
Thoughts on These Results
This information is the percentage of students that met and or exceeded expectations on the tests. Since we only tested at Grade 3 last year, the above results are only for Grade 3. As you can see, our students tested well above the State and PSD averages. And until we have had more time to analyze individual results, as well as the results of three years of data in the future, it will be difficult to make more definitive statements than, “It certainly didn’t hurt anyone to be in a Montessori classroom last year.”
My hope is that Montessori-educated children will continue to do better because we focus on both process and content. Maybe the essential life skills of planning, attention to detail, maintaining focus, collaboration with others, and managing social interactions are somehow reflected by the test. But that would take quite a stretch of my imagination to think it could be true.