Testing what really counts

By Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent, HFM BOCES

For months, “opting out” has been the torch and pitchfork tirade echoing around schools in my region. In their quest to show Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature their displeasure about standardized testing and teacher evaluations, lots of parents and the teachers’ union have dredged up something deeper and more relevant to student success in schools. Testing, particularly standardized testing, is a broken model.

The current system of testing was created for an education system doggedly sustained since the 19th century and cannot meet the needs of 21st century students, post-secondary educators and employers. As we desperately aspire to match the educational successes of other countries, we have lost track of what makes New York State and the United States great — innovation. Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Leadership, Reforming Education, Testing | Leave a comment

Stop feeding the dinosaur

dinosaurBy Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent,
HFM BOCES

We need to stop feeding the dinosaur of archaic educational policy and practice.

I stood looking at my diplomas the other day, wondering what they really said about what I actually know or can do. Sure, they represent a level of accomplishment, and presumably indicate that my skills grew in proportion to my achievement. However, no one hands out copies of their diploma as a means of demonstrating actual skill and knowledge, as you would a resume.

I stood looking at my diplomas because, while graduation rates are improving in our schools, a new report based on an international assessment reveals that United States workers – at least one significant portion – rank very near the bottom in three critical life and work skills: literacy, numeracy (the competence and confidence to use numbers and think mathematically in everyday life) and problem solving.

Where the United States had arguably the best-educated workforce in the world 40 years ago, this new study says it just isn’t so anymore. Continue reading

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Update the delivery system for real improvement in education

By Dr. Patrick Michel
District Superintendent, HFM BOCES

Blog Posting ArtIn his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed sweeping changes within New York’s public education system. Many of the issues he addressed, such as teacher evaluation and failing schools, have been part of the ongoing discussion on school improvement for many years. To be fair, he is right about the problems he points out in his speech.

The existing teacher evaluation system, envisioned to help ensure effective teachers staff our schools, is a farce. If anything, this new system – implemented just last year – makes it much harder to get rid of poor teachers, even those without tenure.

There are school buildings and entire districts that have been failing for more than 10 years, have put down roots after being on state lists for 20 years, yet still plod along with graduation rates under 60 percent. These same districts have libraries full of state audits and improvement plans but nothing improves.

What is missing from this discussion is the underlying cause of all these issues. If we are going to talk about reform, let’s talk about radical reformation of the way we deliver education to our students.

Attempts to alleviate the “symptoms” will do little or nothing to cure the root illness. Gov. Cuomo’s “reform” strategies will not fix public education. Continue reading

Posted in Advocacy, Career Pathways, Leadership, Reforming Education | 1 Comment