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What If It’s Not the Teachers??

I have worked enough years in the education system to recognize good practice, especially those practices related to instruction. Teachers are often blamed for low test scores, in some cases justified. However, when a district’s state assessment scores consistently range in the below basic category, or growth from year-to-year is minimal, the issue is more than likely systemic.

What, then, are the characteristics of an effective instructional system? From a teacher’s perspective and backward design, the system would follow these guidelines.

  1. Use of the state’s assessment blueprint to determine standards being assessed along with the percentage of items being tested for each standard (power standards).
  2. Use the state’s blueprint to develop district benchmark assessments.
  3. Determine assessment frequency. Determine standards to be addressed on each benchmark assessment (pacing).
  4. Share pacing guide with teachers.
  5. Teacher teams determine instructional pacing and develop units of instruction. It is at this level curriculum guides should be developed.
  6. Collect proficiency data for each standard assessed and each student’s academic performance.
  7. Districts analyze data for each standard, each grade level; teachers analyze data for each student. ┬áTeacher teams determine what’s working and what’s not.
  8. PLNs identify instructional strategies for student scoring proficiency as well as those needing additional assistance.

The value in this model is accountability on all levels – district to teacher, not teacher to district. When calculated, on-purpose, and deliberate communication between all stakeholders is not aligned, students suffer. Instead of the buck stopping with the teacher, scrutiny should be placed on the superintendent as instructional leader. Yes, teachers are the direct deliverers of instruction. What instruction, however, are they to deliver?

Superintendents are the heads of their districts. Principals are the heads of their buildings. Teachers are the heads of their classrooms. When the head operates effectively in his/her capacity, the remainder of the body performs well, as well.

The Most Important Aspect of Teaching Is….