“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. Chinese Proverb
Testing Doesn’t Measure Up For Americans
Americans look beyond testing when they evaluate schools. That finding is based on results of the 47th annual PDK Gallup Poll of Public’s Attitude Toward Public Schools. According to the poll, responders believe the level of student engagement at school and the degree to which students feel hopeful about their future are better indicators than using standardized test scores. Also, a majority of Americans responded that too much emphasis is placed on standardized testing rather than other student progress measures, including grades awarded by teachers, samples of student work, or written narrative observations by the teacher.
Biggest Issue Facing Schools
For the tenth consecutive year, Americans who were polled identified lack of financial support as the most significant issue schools are experiencing. The lack of funding for schools has been among the biggest problems named for poll respondents since 1969. Almost half of the public school parents say having sufficient money is critical to improving the quality of schools. Included in the top five problems this year are concerns about standards and testing.
Americans Love Their Local Schools
For the past 40 years of the PDK/Gallup Poll, Americans consistently gave the highest grades to schools that are closest to them and in which they have more knowledge and experience. They assign the lowest grades to schools on a nationwide basis since these schools are farthest away. Even though Americans perceive the quality of education schools provide nationwide lower than schools in their own community, they do not necessarily view a general decline in the nation’s schools.
Teacher Quality is Most Significant Factor
Of the factors studied and based upon poll results, Americans believe teacher quality is the most powerful factor to improve the quality of public schools. Other important factors mentioned include establishing expectations of what students should learn and having effective school principals. The fewest respondents—19 percent--thought testing was a very important way to improve schools.
Technology Integration Continues to Grow
After two years of comprehensive planning, Benjamin District 25 students and staff further integrated technology into learning and teaching last year with each student having a computer device in grades three through eight. This year the integration has expanded to a higher level, resulting in increased student engagement and motivation. Due to a reliability issue, Dell replaced our devices and accessories in May of 2015 at no cost to the district. Consequently, there are significantly fewer break-downs this year which has decreased the need for loaners.
New On The Technology Front
An area near the Benjamin Middle School media center has been designated for students to be creative and innovative by manufacturing items on a 3-D printer, programming robots, disassembling and assembling computers, and configuring kits to create functional electronic equipment. Plans are being discussed to establish an area at Evergreen Elementary School. Also, our students are collaborating with the University of Illinois-Chicago engineering students to design and construct devices to provide students with disabilities the opportunity to live more productive lives.
Developing Well-Rounded Students
In addition to academic programs, our students are able to participate in clubs, fine arts (choir, band, and art), athletics, drama, and leadership activities. The public is invited to attend the Fiddler on the Roof production on March 18 and 19 at Benjamin Middle School. Tickets may be purchased by calling 630-876-7820 or stopping by the middle school office. We are proud that nearly 70 students will be involved in the cast, set design and construction, costume making, and sound and lighting controls. Also, the Evergreen Elementary School Extravaganza runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 12 and will feature samplings of all the projects that students created, including both flat work and clay. A musical portion of the evening will be a collaboration effort between first and second grade classes relating to the science unit on habitats.
Community members always are welcome to attend any of the school events and see the impressive work by our skillful and talented students!
Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.