Once Carteret County public school students return Monday from Easter break, only eight weeks of schooling will remain before the end of this traditional academic school year, which leaves little time for the students and their teachers to prepare for end of grade testing. Further, it reduces any opportunity that teachers and the school system will have to promote remedial action to their students.
Teachers, students and parents should be prepared for a dismal test result in certain subjects but this should not be an indictment of either the teachers or students. Nor should it be use an excuse for the elimination of the testing. Instead these results should spur educators and parents to double down on finding solutions.
According to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), data collected from the fall end-of-grade testing showed a majority of students failing. This is a very concerning conclusion and a good indicator of what to expect when test results come in for the spring semester. But on the plus side, these scores will give educators, parents and students an understanding of what is needed to correct the identified academic deficiencies and the action needed to make improvements.
Unfortunately, the teacher’s union, the National Education Association (NEA) and its state affiliated organization, the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE), are proposing that standardized testing be eliminated out of concern that dismal test result will challenge teachers.
Dr. Terry Stoops, Director of Effective Education, noted in a recent radio interview on the TalkStation, WTKF/WJNC, that the “teacher’s union sees end-of-grade testing as a destination and not as a guide.” The reason the teacher’s union fears these tests is that they will result in parents and the public asking questions, which contrary to the opinion of the insular teacher’s union, is a good thing and should result in more parental involvement.
Only in the past three weeks have North Carolina public schools been allowed to open their doors to more full-time classroom participation, and this happened only because the state legislature mandated the reopening of schools. The overwhelming bipartisan support of this legislation denied Governor Roy Cooper any opportunity to block the action as desired by the state’s teacher’s union, the NCAE.
Correcting the anticipated academic deficiencies will be the next big challenge, one that has motivated the legislature to take aggressive action, but apparently not Governor Cooper.
The N.C. House passed H.B. 82, “Summer Learning Choice for N.C. Families” requiring every school district to offer at least six weeks of summer schooling for students who need academic remedial assistance to catch up. And the senate passed SB 387, “Excellent School Act” co-sponsored by Sen. Norman Sanderson, representing Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties. The senate bill focuses on training teachers on how to improve reading skills for students before they reach the third grade.
Both bills, passed with strong bipartisan support, were sent to the governor a week ago and finally signed into law Friday.
The lack of the governor’s immediate acceptance of these two pieces of legislation is disappointing but not surprising since he has shown over the past five years of his administration that he agrees with the teacher’s union. His dalliance on these initiatives proves that he supports the teacher’s union and its’ endeavors to maintain the status quo. That union and its leadership are on record stating that the core mission of the union is taking care of teachers, not students.
Parents, education leaders and those teachers who care about the primary goal of education should let the governor know that any delay in preparing for remediation and improving the learning experience, either by remote or in-class participation, is unacceptable and that work should begin immediately.
As previously noted, there are only eight weeks in the Carteret County school calendar. That leaves little time for teachers to begin promoting and cajoling students to consider attending summer school or seek tutorial help during the summer break. Any delay will result in less participation in summer school enrollment and further reduce the opportunities to overcome what is fast becoming a national disaster.