Op-ed: Don't introduce business practices into public education

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  • worf McAllen, TX
    Oct. 18, 2017 3:49 p.m.

    Education has become very costly, complex, and weak.

    Many students know little of mathematics, American History, and are poor readers.

    Education system need to be simplified and focused.

  • Woodworker Highland, UT
    Oct. 18, 2017 1:10 p.m.

    I'm a retired elementary school teacher and will respond from that background.
    1. Our Core Curriculum covers far too much. The 5th grade history core wants students to learn geography, Native American history, and everything else from Colonization to WWII. There is absolutely no way this is possible.
    Solution: All curriculum should be pared down to allow coverage that involves memorization and critical thinking.
    2. The DRA reading test takes a tremendous amount of time to administer and is hard to interpret. For a number of reasons, this test, which costs so much money, should be tanked and replaced by simpler, more informative reading tests. Some educ. administrators are making a lot of money on this one. Solution: Choose to opt your child out of this test.
    3. There is no curriculum for Grammar anymore, no books, etc. But it is on the year-end testing. Why? Some non-teachers decided that everything a child needs to know about grammar could be learned through writing. Impossible.
    4. At the elementary level, student need time to memorize facts that lay the foundation for future critical thinking. i.e., multiplication facts before long division. Thank you.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    Oct. 18, 2017 10:19 a.m.

    What this opinion piece is saying is that like everyone else, teachers and administrators do not like people looking over their shoulder and telling them what to do. They want to be left alone to do their job.

    Fair enough, as long as the end product works.

    There's the rub. We pay a ton of tax money and get HS seniors who can't count change or solve a basic problem like, what to do when the office catches fire.

    We'd like students who can speak English like adults and have a basic understanding of the importance of showing up on time.

    If we don't get that, then we are critical of the system we paid to deliver the product. We don't care if they use SAGE or ITBS or a Ouija board, as long as we get functional people out of high school.

    Until that happens, we will continue to push back at Education, Inc.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Oct. 18, 2017 10:10 a.m.

    Functioning in society requires that we understand and adapt to expectations in the business world. Even an entry level job requires that we comprehend what we read, that we follow instructions exactly, that we stick to the job whether we want to or not and that we focus all the time on the task.

    Testing shows whether students understand the subjects being taught. It is critical that students are tested frequently and fairly. The test should be about the things being taught in class, not about what someone outside the school wants. The tests should be used to show whether the teachers are teaching and it should show how much of the information is being understood by the student. The results of the tests should aid the school in refining teaching methods and teacher assignments.

    Business constantly evaluate their methods. They change to meet expectations. They do not use the same methods that my great grandfather used in his tiny country store. They adopt and adapt.

    Schools should do the same. With adaptive personalized teaching available via an iPad or low cost computer, each student can have a "private" tutor at little expense to aid the teacher.

  • worf McAllen, TX
    Oct. 18, 2017 9:50 a.m.

    IMHO, children should go to school three days a week and four just five hours on each.

    How do they build creativity, and self identity by sitting in a chair five days a week? Give them free time to play and explore.

    Isn't that what happened with the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, etc?

    Manipulating test scores isn't cutting it. Many students know nothing of the industrial revolution or much else of American history.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 18, 2017 9:12 a.m.

    The teacher has not taught until the student has learned. Exactly how would Mr. Thomas suggest we assess cognitive achievement? Something that cannot be measured is not worth discussing.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Oct. 18, 2017 5:59 a.m.

    Educators are not pushing the move away from conceptional thinking and the testing there of, that would be your state legislature and federal government. The majority of standardized tests require rote memorization whether those are national or state driven tests. They can be corrected quickly, there is a right or wrong answer.

    One of the things that American students excelled at in the past was their ability to think critically to apply a concept to a problem and solve it, to go beyond memorization. With the advent of school grades, with the focus on national and international testing that are primarily based on a students ability to memorize information, schools have had no choice but to move in this direction. Less time is spent on exploration of ideas and critical thinking and the majority of time is spent on what students need to be successful on tests.

    Anyone who says that today's students aren't more knowledgeable than students in past decades is out of touch. We are teaching things in high school today that you learned your second year in college 30 years ago.

    Could we do better, absolutely and the authors are correct use an education model for education.

  • SMcloud Sandy, UT
    Oct. 18, 2017 12:26 a.m.

    Punishing a school for having low performing students is a bit like punishing a dentist for having patients with lots of cavities.

    Teachers have a huge impact and there are good teachers and bad teachers in every school in the country. But in the end they aren't miracle workers and the rest of the student's daily environment (family, friends, level of poverty and safety in a neighborhood, innate ability, personality, support system) have a huge impact on how that student will do.

    These standardized tests are a very simplistic tool. They show a bit of the picture but not the whole picture.

  • TeachyMcTeacherPants Sandy, UT
    Oct. 18, 2017 12:23 a.m.

    I'm not saying no standardized testing at all, but that it has taken over education and is getting in the way.

    In my opinion, all the tests show are where the poor neighborhoods are. America doesn't have an education problem, we have a poverty problem.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Oct. 17, 2017 10:40 p.m.

    Sorry folks but the standardized testing has got way out of control. It is harming education by killing creativity in both student learning and teacher pedagogy.

  • geekusprimus Little Elm, TX
    Oct. 17, 2017 10:24 p.m.

    What the author should say is that BAD tests encourage rote memorization. Good tests, on the other hand, are a teaching tool and an effective means of evaluating a student's understanding. Rick For Truth makes a great point, one which I can support in my own (admittedly limited) experience in science education: students always score the worst on conceptual and analytical questions, particularly those that require synthesizing concepts from multiple topics. Get a room full of students in a general education college physics class, and I guarantee almost all of them can tell you a whole list of formulas and plug them into their calculators just fine. However, when presented with an unfamiliar situation, almost none of them have the physical intuition, conceptual understanding, or mathematical facility required to apply those formulas to analyze the system and find an acceptable solution.
    We don't need less tests; we just need less bad tests.

  • Rick for Truth Provo, UT
    Oct. 17, 2017 7:30 p.m.

    Another liberal singing cumbaya around the campfire approach to teaching. No tests, no accountability. No tests, no grades, no grades no achievement. As a retired educator, the more analysis, synthesis, multi-step solutions in an exam the greater the failure rate. The greater the failure rate, the greater the pressure from administrators & parents crying about their little darlings futures being ruined. Many teachers succumb to the pressure and deal out easy to earn grades. AP classes are being replaced with co-enrollment UVU watered down classes with no set standards of learning. ACT/SAT scores will go down, acceptance to top schools will decline. Education will suffer.

  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    Oct. 17, 2017 6:29 p.m.

    An article could just as easily be written about how we should not bring educational practices such as rote memorization, standardized testing, and interpersonal competition into business, where the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and team collaboration are far more important and valued.

    If the authors want to argue against a "production line" mentality in education, that's reasonable. However, that's a very small aspect of business and is increasingly being overtaken by automation. People with any meaningful experience in the business world understand this very well.

    The Silicon Slopes are flourishing not because of an emphasis (primarily in the education system) on rote learning, but in spite of it.

  • Seek to understand Sandy, UT
    Oct. 17, 2017 5:50 p.m.

    Good testing, which we are starting to see with our SAGE LA tests, requires critical thinking, making inferences, logical deduction, and other higher-order thinking skills. Here is an example of a test question:
    Instructions to student:

    Read paragraphs 3 and 4 from the story.
    “Wear it around your neck,” he whispered, “and you’ll understand everything
    that animals say. But if you reveal your secret, the charm won’t work
    anymore.”
    “I won’t tell anyone,” Niel assured him.

    Which word from paragraph 3 or 4 best helps the reader understand the meaning of
    the word “reveal”?
    A whispered
    B understand
    C tell
    D assured

    This is a test item for 3rd grade. That means students who are 8-9 years old. This is not a reflection of rote learning.

    I believe this author is out of touch with what we are currently doing with/for students in our schools and the level of teaching and learning that is happening.

    The business analogy is also very weak. Great businesses succeed on cooperation as well. Both businesses and schools must be accountable. Accountability has little to do with competition. And accountability must be a primary element in schools.