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Letters to the Editor

Bad information leads to bad decision-making

Using bad information to make decisions impairs the quality of the decisions. We tend to see a lot of this with regard to education.  When making comparisons for such things as teacher pay, or cost per student, it is necessary to put this into context for cost of living index per state (or by country, if international comparisons are being made).  Iowa’s organized education groups fail to do this, hoping no one has the thinking skills to figure this out.  The practice is no different than claiming student proficiencies that are based on using low standards instead of national grade level standards, or the past practice of regularly lowering the standards on assessments to hide the failure of the education system of memorization (causing the national government to finally stage an intervention).

A national report that does not need adjustments for context is the annual assessment of teacher training programs by state, based on whether or not each is using the correct materials for a concept-based system rather than memorization, and whether effective teaching methods are being taught for concepts rather than memorization. Iowa’s grade has finally moved up from a D to a D+, while at least 30 states have moved up to various grades in the C and B range (no A).  Breaking this down further for Iowa does not present a good picture for the future, as at least thirty other states are graduating larger numbers of students with better skills than Iowa schools:  Elementary Teacher Prep F, Secondary Teacher Prep D-, Special Education Teacher Prep D+, Teacher and Principal Evaluation D+, and there are other categories.

These grades explain why Iowa has developed an alternative assessment for students failed by this system, as if the problem lay with each student (which is not true in a high percentage of cases); Iowa’s education system lacks the ability to figure out what it is doing wrong and make the necessary improvements.  These grades also explain why Iowa’s ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) plan calls for further lowing standards to pretend to close an achievement gap created by the system itself through the use of wrong education theories, wrong materials, and wrong teaching methods.  Iowa educators prefer to blame money rather than take responsibility for their actions.

Clearly, Iowa’s local schools need to be confined to the extracurricular activities communities like, and leave the educating to out-of-state online teachers.

Sue Atkinson

Baxter

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