Daily Bread for 3.27.23: The Whitewater School Board Election (6)

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 43. Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 7:15 PM for 12h 31m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 33.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM

 On this day in 1915, Typhoid Mary, the first healthy carrier of disease ever identified in the United States, is put in quarantine for the second time, where she would remain for the rest of her life.

Parents reasonably hope that their children receive education in language, mathematics, and science. Determining how much they’ve learned often falls to standardized tests, including the ACT. These standardized tests are imperfect yet useful measures of overall performance. 

In today’s Wisconsin, where the ACT is administered to high school students (almost) universally, the test is not simply a measure of college readiness. That test is, instead, now a measure of high school students’ readiness of graduation. Some test like this, the ACT or another, is important to answer this question: what have high school students learned, and how well have they learned it?

If too much is made of college, then too little is made of high school. Whitewater High School should, regardless of a graduate’s next destination, teach language, mathematics, history, and science so that ‘every graduate [remains] an engaged, lifelong learner.’  (A fine motto the Whitewater district should not have abandoned.)

And so, and so, the community has legitimate concern over test scores. At the March 11th school board candidates’ forum, the second question was about measurement of academic performance: 

Question 2, 30:17: How do you plan to address low ACT scores, and below proficient scores in math and reading?

(Some years ago, when the ACT was not administered universally, a few gentlemen in this town thought that boosting scores among a small number of test takers would reflect well on Whitewater.  Certainly not. The success or failure of a high school program is measured among all, not among a few. Now that larger numbers of high school students are required to take the ACT, opportunities for cherry-picking have thankfully vanished. See Whitewater’s ACT Participation Rate Near the Bottom of Area Schools, The Better, Reasoned Approach on ACT Scores, and Whitewater’s ACT Scores.)

It’s not school board candidates, however, who have the key obligation to assure that students’ understanding of fundamentals is sound. It’s the superintendent, administrators, and faculty members. They are the ones who are employed full-time in our district. Each and every regular school board meeting in this district should have a report on academic progress, and what is being done to improve learning, and support those who are teaching. 

Broken boilers, quotes for new doors, etc. — those are brief discussions. (Someone gets three quotes, the board votes after a quick review, and the matter is settled. Time is irrecuperable.) 

There should be a place at meetings for awards and recognitions, but that place should not be larger or longer than a regular discussion of substantive academic progress. 

When progress toward better scores becomes the centerpiece of each and every regular meeting, leaders in the district will have an unavoidable opportunity to offer improvement plans. The more industrious and creative among them will seize that opportunity. 

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1 year ago

Incredibly well said.