02 December 2006

What Next?

Many of us in Washington are a bit surprised to discover that the state supe has reversed her stance on requiring students in the class of 2008 (and beyond) to meet the standards in math in order to get a diploma. Even last month, she was telling parents in our town that delaying this requirement would only mean that progress in the classroom would also be slowed. Now, both the governor and she have said that they will recommend the math requirement be changed to first impact the class of 2011. There is some concern that the timing is politically motivated, with an election year just around the corner.

Letting all of that go, for the moment, I have to wonder about what the plan will be for science. Meeting the standards is currently scheduled to be a graduation requirement for the class of 2010. If math is going to be put off until 2011, might the science requirement also be changed to an even more distant point in time?

I'm not quite sure what to think about that, should that turn out to be the case. As a district, we've been scrambling the last two years to structure our scope and sequence, revamp buildings to support more science classes, and identify and purchase aligned materials. Might it be another six or seven years until things "matter"? It is not as if all the efforts we have made so far are for nothing---if anything, kids will have a more solid experience over a longer period of time. This can only help them when meeting the standards in science becomes a reality.

Mind you, Mighty White Boy filled my ear yesterday about how science just isn't suited for a test because of the content...and how math is only skills and no content, which is why (like reading and writing) it makes more sense to test math. Besides, science isn't really all that important for kids to learn. Why, "they" should just do away with the science WASL and have teachers submit classroom based assessments instead. I bit my tongue. It would have done no good to quarrel with his "expertise," although I had to wonder how many out there shared his view.

I feel a bit in limbo now. The state seems to have forgotten science at present, but they can't do so forever. The feds are already slated to include it as part of a school's AYP by 2010. Yet until the state gets its poop and a pile and gives us a plan, we districts are islands unto ourselves. I just wish I knew what was next.

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