I'm going to give you a brief summary of what's going on Locally, Statewide and Nationally in education.
- Board Retreat, setting Board Goals. Review of 21st Century Learning/STEAM schools. It is the school district's plan to convert all of our schools into 21st Century/STEAM schools. Right now, Cedar Ridge, Ridgeline and Highland (if I recall) in my area are all 21st Century Learning. This means more project-based learning, less memorization, more technology and a focus on the 6 C's: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Citizenship, Character.
I, personally, have grave concerns with more tech in schools, especially with the emphasis on character traits and values, as evidenced by the 6 C's and the national ESSA (replacement for No Child Left Behind) requirements. More on ESSA below. Here is an interesting read on Critical Thinking that I agree with. https://www.memoriapress.com/articles/the-critical-thinking-skills-hoax/
2. The Board set up a Local Building Authority last meeting to facilitate paying for the rebuild of Scera Park Elementary in Orem without raising taxes or going through a bond. You can read more about it on my blog: https://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2018/01/local-building-authority.html
3. This is an election year. 4 Alpine Board Seats will be up for election this year, as well as 1 State Board seat in our area. I would like to encourage everyone to take a moment and think seriously about running for office. The 4 ASD Seats are: Saratoga Springs/Eagle Mountain (currently held by Paula Hill who will not be running again), American Fork (currently held by John Burton), West Orem (currently held by JoDee Sundberg), and Highland/Alpine/Cedar Hills (currently my seat). As always, I welcome any and all to throw their hats into the ring. Civil public debate is the BEST way to get the best ideas working for our kids. The State Board seat is currently held by Joel Wright and covers most of ASD, except Orem and a small part out West. Government of the people, by the people and for the people requires not just a few people involved, but all of us. And the Founders expected that people would rotate their service in public office. The deadline to file is mid-March.
- The State is close to releasing the new science standards for grades 5, 9-12. Since the Grade 6-8 standards are a rewording of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), it is my personal belief that the Board will adopt, without hesitation, the NGSS for these grades as well. I have many concerns about these standards, but the biggest one is that Utah currently scores higher on ACT science than any state that also tests 100% of its juniors, not just those who self-select as wanting to go to college. (That means our scores will be lower, on average, than those states that let kids decide whether to take the ACT or not.) We also score higher than the national average on the science portion of the ACT. So, I'm unsure why we would adopt standards that show other states doing more poorly. Not to mention that the math is almost non-existent, as are body systems, chemistry and physics. Also, Utah's current science standards (except Grades 6-8) received a B grade. NGSS received a C from Fordham Foundation. You can read more by searching NGSS on my blog: https://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/search?q=ngss Here's the video from when we adopted Grades 6-8: https://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2015/11/utahs-new-science-standards-national.html The arguments are the same. Please share with your friends and neighbors and ask them to contact the state board: firstname.lastname@example.org to express their concern or their support. If you are supportive, I would love to know why and where the NGSS has worked and by what measures it has worked.
- The State's ESSA plan was rejected, in large part, due to our opting out of SAGE. Rather than finding out why parents don't want their kids to take SAGE, the Board is looking at renaming SAGE. They have hired a new testing vendor, Questar, to continue with the SAGE testing, but the terms of the proposal indicate we need to continue to use the same questions as SAGE. So, new vendor, same questions, new name.
- Associated with that, the State Board is deciding how they want to handle the ESSA rejection by the Feds. Please remember, when ESSA was being passed, everyone said that it returned Local Control of education to the states. Those of us who opposed it said that it wouldn't. What does everyone think now? The options are 1) Ask the US Dept of Ed for a waiver for the opt out provisions, 2) Tell the Feds we don't want their Title 1 money and ask the Legislature to make up the difference in funding (my preference) or 3) Change state law to REQUIRE parents to submit their kids to SAGE testing against their will (Land of the Free?) I have good reason to believe that if the State Board were to play their cards right, the Feds would be hard-pressed to hold back funding for the lowest socio-economic strata of kids in the lowest funded state in the nation. But they'll try.
- The Legislature is in session. 1300 bills opened about education, if I remember correctly. Please pay attention and email your legislators. I'm sure there will be a desire to limit opting out of SAGE testing and other measures designed to limit parents in their primary role of raising their kids.
- ESSA requires a measurement for non-cognitive measures. Just watch how everything will be focused on things like GRIT and perseverance, as well as technology. The "nice" thing about technology is that you can have second-by-second information about your kid sent to a computer program to determine if your kid has the right attitudes, values and beliefs. The desire to have knowledge is over. "The most controversial issues of the twenty-first century will pertain to the ends and means of modifying human behavior and who shall determine them. The first educational question will not be 'what knowledge is of the most worth?' but 'what kinds of human beings do we wish to produce?' The possibilities virtually defy our imagination." (John I. Goodlad)
- Secretary DeVos declares the "Common Core is dead!" It's not. Not by a long shot, and that is in large part due to ESSA. You can read more about that here: https://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/betsy-devos-aei-american-enterprise-institute/ Please share this information with friends and neighbors. Most BAD Educational ideas never die. They just get renamed, rebranded and shilled to the public again as the "latest and greatest" education silver bullet.