Focus on Students, Not Numbers

I recently read an article in the USA Today entitled “Education Goals are Getting Resegregated” (May 8, 2014). The article explains that “Only 7% of black high school seniors are proficient in math, compared with 33% of white students, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores released Wednesday. The reading gap is larger.”

The article then goes on to detail many state’s goals for educational achievement, highlighting how “more than half the states have given up on race-blind standards, setting different goals for different groups of students.” For example, in the District of Columbia, the goal is for 94% proficiency in math for white students while only 71% for black students.

Unfortunately, in many educational bureaucracies the exercise of creating goals has no effect on improving education, and in this case, the goals can actually do more harm than good. The goals are merely an exercise of expectations.

Rather than spending needless time on creating goals that won’t work or that send negative messages to certain groups of people, education would be more effective in studying programs that improve learning and academic performance of all students, regardless of race. Perhaps if the objective was to encourage students to actually want to learn and take responsibility for their actions, then the educational achievement standards would naturally increase and the performance gap would close. It seems that by focusing on the numbers on the page rather than students sitting in the classroom, educational administrators are tackling the problem from the wrong end.

One such system that would greatly help promote learning and responsibility is described in the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model.

1 Comment
  1. The primary problem is that adults do the goal setting. As you consistently post, students are what they do, think and feel.

    When students set goals, evaluate/reflect on their progress and develop strategies to reach their goals, they are much more successful. In Lee County, FL (35th largest District in the US) we are demonstrating closing the achievement gap at all levels by including students in goal setting, data chats and plan making. Even kindergarten students are setting goals and developing action steps to achieve them.

    Discipline incidents/referrals have all decreased without focusing on discipline. Academic success is reducing discipline problems.

    Thanks Marv!