Education Corner 31
- Category: Education Corner
- Published: Friday, 10 March 2017 11:15
- Written by Richard Womack, Ed.D
- Hits: 1923
Let us resume our Education Corner (EC) with an apology. I apologize for straying from the original purpose of the column over the past several months. I no longer will tell the story about the beginning teacher Mr. Navarro Navarro. While such stories may be appropriate for teacher and pre-teacher training, the case study or story approach was not for a column as this. It was an error on my part to attempt Navarro for EC. And to be honest I was uncomfortable from the beginning. It was something new because I had run out of information that I thought would help the Readers and the Public-at-large. It was not working and I am sorry for wasting K-Press space and the Readers time. For any Readers who did like Navarro I will send them to anyone who writes EC individually. We have many “Navarro’s” on file.
When in August 2015 we began EC, it was to be an informational column for the public. It was meant to give you information about what the Pohnpei Department of Education was doing to make improvements for our children. Too it was meant to show the public, particularly parents and caregivers, ways to help teachers and principals help the students. We explained the purposes and importance of FSM Accreditation. We stressed the absolute need for every school-public or private to be accredited. We explained that every school must have a School Improvement Plan (SIP) showing just how every school will try to improve during the next year.
We asked the Readers to be part of the SIP. SIPs are required to have public participation and school principals beg for as much help as possible. We thought it important for you to know that if schools did not improve there might be less money for PDOE and individual schools. For example, we asked parents to get their children to school and to school on time. Every SIP promises to improve attendance. To be sure young people not in school cannot learn the curriculum on which students are tested. SIPs all promise to improve the overall test scores of their students. Doing this can also be tied to funding. So the EC was meant to focus on improvement of the students and at the same time warn the public about possible future funding difficulties should we not improve.
Moreover, we explained last year’s work where we tested all the elementary school teachers. We did this because elementary teachers are required to teach in five science areas and five social studies areas. The tests were not designed to pass or fail but only to see where teachers were strong or teachers were weak. PDOE wanted to see where teachers could benefit from on-going training. When principals and teachers received the results teachers wrote a letter to the school principal similar to: Dear Principal: I have taken the self-tests in the five social studies and the five sciences. Listed here are my three (3) weakest areas. As training becomes available please put me on any on-going training list that addresses my weak areas. As a professional teacher I recognize all professionals must update their knowledge and skills. With the over-all results PDOE began planning a different approach to on-going training. In fact the project itself was called Data for Decision Making (DDP). When we do not improve we may lose funding, when we show with data where we must improve and how we plan to improve we may gain funding with which to improve.
The second part of the DDP was a school-by-school, room-by-room survey of science and social studies curriculum materials for students. This revealed what teachers and principals have long said. It is difficult to teach subject if we have little or no materials for our students to read. The DDP showed us that there was very little curriculum materials for students and teachers in both the elementary sciences and the elementary social studies. So where do we begin? EC and PDOE is happy to announce that this year we will be doing work on this—a new project called ALIGNING SOCIAL STUDIES STANDARDS WITH STUDENT CURRICULM NEEDS AND EMPHASIZING LANGUAGE ARTS SKILLS. Our data showed us we should have new student textbooks for every grade and every student grades 4th-8th. This will be a huge undertaking for PDOE and an added cost to the PDOE budget. But as mentioned with our DDP data we can show our need and will get some additional funds with which to accomplish this. Therefore EC will use this project to report to the community. I do believe the Reader’s will appreciate PDOE’s efforts. New textbooks written at students reading levels is very exciting. Next edition EC will explain much more about this-even the data we expect that will show real improvement. And we will suggest ways the Readers can help.