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Letters to the Editor

Iowa fails in concept-based education

If a product cannot meet market standards, isn’t a legitimate question: why is money being wasted on it?

Approximately 60 years ago, the Iowa education system went along with the rest of the country in choosing to drop concept-based education (that developed in-depth thought processes) and began using a system of memorization (that fails to develop in-depth thought processes because factoids are only memorized instead of being understood). The change was completed in less than 10 years.

With businesses and the military getting desperate over the significantly reduced number of individuals with in-depth thinking skills, they finally prevailed on the government to transition back to concept-based education — with No Child Left Behind initiating the transition and requiring states to select a starting standard from which they would improve up to grade level national standards in 13 years. Sixteen years later, Iowa education has failed to make the transition back in all ways. 

Iowa educators lack the ability to write concept-based assessments. Iowa educators lack the ability to write concept-based curriculum. Iowa’s teacher training programs continue to fail to include all five of the reading concepts. Iowa’s educators continue to use a phonics program created for memorization through the elimination of enough rules as to require memorization of whole words in lieu of learning the more in-depth process of applying phonics rules to sound out words. Iowa educators have failed to raise standards up to national grade level. Iowa educators continue to increase the number of students in Special Education (because this is the collection point for students being failed by the system). Iowa educators have failed to close the achievement gap (because Iowa educators prefer to blame students rather than taking responsibility for a poor-quality product). Iowa’s Every Student Succeeds plan uses even lower standards as its preferred method of falsely appearing to be educating students. Iowa’s graduation rate relies on low standards to increase the numbers (because a more-in-depth calculation for quality, closing the achievement gap, and reducing the number of students in Special Ed would show that the states actually accomplishing these things have a higher quality product). Products of memorization have to pretend to be good, while products of in-depth understanding of concepts actually are good.

Shouldn’t producers of a low-quality product be held accountable? Shouldn’t Iowa taxpayers be allowed to move students to a higher quality product?

Sue Atkinson

Baxter

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