“The reason we don’t have great schools is because we have good schools,” Meade said, quoting James Collins.
Meade said that although the district didn’t meet its set goals on the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, he said the scores were not bad and that the schools making good progress. He said that if CATS results were the only thing taken into account, they would have not needed assistance. However, NCLB requires schools to close learning gaps between subpopulations like African-Americans, students with disabilities and students who eat free or reduced lunch. He said that it was important to fight the “culture of low expectations” for these subgroups. The expectations for these groups have been lower for too long and teachers have to make it clear that they expect those students to perform just as well as the general student population.
Meade said that a school’s core business ought to be about learning and not just trying to score well on tests. He said that learning wouldn’t improve until teaching improves, and that teachers will not improve unless they are coached. It may be hard at first to push teachers to improve, but he said that “buffer zone” must be penetrated in order to improve student performance.
“The status quo is the enemy of children,” he said.
One recommendation Meade made was that children in special education needed to be included in regular classes as much as possible. He said this might meet with some resistance, but that it wouldn’t be possible to close achievement gaps if those kids are constantly isolated.
Meade also said that not only should teachers be covering all of Kentucky’s required core content, but that students should be made aware of what that content was. This way, students would have the advantage of knowing what the state required them to learn.
Meade said that students needed to be shown good work so that they would know what was expected of them. This is a big problem because many children have never seen work that is judged to be distinguished, he said.
“Before kids can do good, they have to know what good is,” he said.
For the rest of the story, read this week's Cadiz Record.