Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

September 28, 2015     

Good morning.  Each year the educator professional organization Phi Delta Kappa works with well known survey firm Gallup to measure the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools – that is the actual name of the survey.  It makes good sense for any organization to know what its customers think and in the public schools, the broadest description of our customer base is the entire public.  We produce a “product” that benefits our society as a whole.

Part of the instrument looks at standardized testing.  This year 64% of Americans and 67% of public school parents say there is “too much emphasis on testing.”  This result in consistent over time and so I find it ironic that in Texas we continue to push standardized testing as the main driver and metric of school accountability and improvement.  You’d think that those elected by the public would be more interested in what the public actually thinks on this issue.  Perhaps there is something more important behind the scenes for those who continue to support standardized testing in the manner we have it now…

Survey results also show that 55% of Americans and 66% of parents oppose test scores being used to evaluate teacher performance.  Again, it is interesting to note that despite this consistent result Texas continues to move in this direction.  Parents clearly understand that teaching and learning is complex business and that neither children nor their teachers should be evaluated using any one metric.

Another unswerving finding was that while people are happy with their local schools they do not rate schools highly when asked about them nationally.  51% of all respondents gave their local schools either an ‘A’ or ‘B’ rating (and this number increased to 72% of parents).  However, only 20% believe that schools nationwide deserve those same ratings.  A couple of comments here; first, the notion of rating the complex work of a school with a simple letter grade is ridiculous – I think we all feel that way.  Second, this result shows the success of the national myth that American public schools are failing.  While parents believe their child’s school is 

successful, many have bought into the myth that schools generally do a poor job.  How sad.

The final point is that how people feel about schools nationally is related to our ability to get people who do not have a relationship with a school into our buildings.  Surveys consistently show (including data obtained in Bexar County by Go Public) that those who spend time in schools in any capacity – as a parent, mentor/volunteer or just to attend community functions – rate the work of the school higher.  In other words, those who understand our work believe that we do a better job that those who do not understand the work.  Those who don’t know about school get their information from media who sensationalize the negative in order to sell advertising.  So, invite parents, grandparents and community members into your classroom or to help the school in some way.  The more people who see our students in action the better!

Finally, and for the tenth consecutive year, the poll identifies “lack of financial support” as the greatest challenge facing school systems in America.  I know that doesn’t surprise you, but I felt like I had to say it anyway.  This goes back to my original question – if the public is clear about an issue for ten years, why aren’t those elected by that public paying attention?

Last week we held our first ever Family Involvement Conference.  The real vision for this came from Araceli Dominguez, NISD’s Family Involvement Coordinator.  The event had a wonderful crowd of NISD staff who focus on family involvement, but importantly – it was full of parents, grandparents and others who want to get the message out about the importance of families being active in schools.

As a reminder, the Northside Education Foundation Employee Pledge Drive ends this Friday.  The more money raised during the Pledge Drive, the more grants NEF can award to faculty and staff.  The convenient online pledge form is available at http://iis-web02/Integration/Partnerships/NEFPledgeDrive. Thanks for supporting NEF and have a great week.