Teacher's Desk: Measuring Better

The Colorado Department of Education recently unveiled a new measuring tool and made its results available to the public. Without going into a lot of mumbo jumbo, it shows three years’ growth of students, individually, as a school, and as a district. I say hurray. When I ran for the State Board of Education back in 1990, I supported the idea of a student achievement data tracking system that showed student growth so that parents and others could compare schools and school districts. Hey, along with Independence Institute, I was one of the first to call for academic transparency. I really thought then, and still do, that schools and districts that show more than incremental growth ought to be acknowledged and replicated.

This information from the new growth model should be used to target students that need more time on task, more fundamentals to build a better foundation, and stop passing students through even though they do not understand the concepts and cannot perform at grade level. If District 50’s new standard-based program succeeds, it will be the model!

We all need to re-think math. I have had the pleasure of working with many mathematics professionals to begin to understand how we can catch these kiddos up in about three years (if we have regular attendance). This next year, I will be discussing it further.

Speaking of math, I had a dear friend with a K-8 license who lost her English position at a Denver middle school. She wanted to broaden her horizons by understanding math through eighth grade, so that she could teach 3-5th grades anywhere. She was a fabulous student, and reminded me many times about what turns students who “hate math” to students they really get into it. I wasn’t ever a “hater.” Writing and science was more of my thing, but when a person can understand not only the math processes AND FACTS, but how she/he interprets mathematical learning, they become motivated. The better one becomes in a content area, the more he/she wants to learn it, and the more motivated one becomes. Mostly my students taught me this.

I hope my friend finds a new position because she is a motivated learner and because of that, knows how to motivate others! Kathleen Kullback is a licensed special educator with an MA in educational leadership and is a former candidate for the Colorado State Board of Education.