The Seattle Times' Susan Byrnes has an uplifting column today about Bemiss Elementary School in Spokane, Washington that has dramatically improved the standardized test (WASL) scores of its student body, many of whom are poor and immigrants. How did Bemiss do it? By insisting on high standards and hard work and frequent testing:
At the core of the Bemiss transformation is a fundamental shift in the way adults perceive disadvantaged students. Like the majority of teachers who work with low-income children, Bemiss teachers want the best for their students. But at Bemiss, teachers and administrators believe the way to help struggling students is to raise the bar, not lower it.and
There's an after-school study center and summer school for 100 kids in July and August. There's a reading nook in the entry hall. There are math contests and reading contests with T-shirts for the winners.Indeed. Byrnes contrasts the success at Bemiss with a swipe at Seattle's loony toons "education leaders", who seem to believe that it's cool to be clueless:
At Bemiss, it's cool to be smart.
In too many other places, it's cool to bash the WASL. Brita Butler-Wall, a new member of the Seattle School Board, has said the test does more harm than good. Board member Sally Soriano said labeling groups of students as failures constitutes institutional racism. The Seattle teachers' union opposes the WASL.The only people who could possibly oppose the WASL are those who fear that reporting achievement outcomes will bring pressure on the public school system to actually deliver results. Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at December 23, 2003 01:15 PM