Parents tell me their kids are not being challenged, while other kids continue to fall further behind especially in schools with a high percentage of socio-economic disadvantaged children. We must tackle the student achievement gaps ignored by the politicians and our local districts.
Parents demand better. And students deserve better! We must not point fingers but come up with solutions.
Bringing 21st century learning methods and innovation into all the county districts and provide a pathway for student learning and peer collaboration should be job one. The current politicians at the county and local districts have ignored this important issue for far too long. Silicon Valley should be a place for innovation in our classroom, not the outdated methods conforming to same things we’ve always done, in other words the status quo. In order to make Santa Clara Schools the Academic Powerhouse that the students and parents deserve, we need to stop comparing ourselves to the state’s low bar in test scores. We need to push the bar higher, acknowledge, not accept low performance of current test scores and above all come up with solutions.
In my current district, MHUSD, I voted to institute the ‘NGSS‘ standards well before the state will mandate these standards. The Next Generation Science Standards has ‘three dimensional learning’, the three pillars that support each standard, are; Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Disciplinary Core Ideas.
NGSS aligns grade by grade with common core state standards for Math and English Language Arts, so concepts support what students are learning in their entire curriculum. Piloting this NGSS standard for one year 2017/ 2018 in the MHUSD made improvements in test scores, specifically in biology, from 34% fail rate to only 4%.
Over 40 states have adopted the NGSS standard including California but not all districts are on board as of yet. This new standard sets the bar high but gives the students a support structure like the following:
- Asking Questions and Defining Problems
- Developing and using Models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and Interpreting Data
- Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
- Engaging in Argument from Evidence
- Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Earlier this year I was in a HS math class with their teachers using the ‘Engaging in Argument from Evidence’ conversation and it was extremely enlightening to see several perspectives on the same problem and the students accepting these perspectives by their peers.
Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generations Science Standards will clarify for the students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to every day life.
I’m extremely proud to be part of the early adoption of the NGSS standards at my local MHUSD because I have witnessed first hand student success stories.
I feel that supporting higher standards like NGSS is a good start in staving off the state graduation percent of graduates that are A-G ready which is less is than 50%, this number is just not acceptable by the parents I speak to.
In addition, the Single Plan For Student Achievement known as SPSA is very closely aligned with the LCAP and as such accountability at each school is at an all time high. I have seen these SPSA plans improve tremendously over the past two years and I believe we are on the right track to focus on individual school student achievement.