ON Sept. 14, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on "Examining the Federal Role in Public School Accountability." I read a summary of what was discussed, including how our nation’s schools are performing. Based on the Adequate Yearly Progress reports (AYP, which is used to measure school improvements), the results were pretty disheartening. The New Mexico Education Secretary Designate shared concerns to the panel, stating that her state placed 49th out of the 50 states in the areas of 4th grade reading levels and graduation rates. The superintendent for Miami-Dade Public Schools emphasized that schools need to use education modules that work, and cut ineffective costly measures. Other participating education board members shared their woes about student performance.
Very similar sentiments were echoed in the recent 2011 State of Guam Public Education Address given by the acting superintendent. What struck me was the report that Guam students are falling further behind the already low proficiency scores of the nation. From what I heard, Guam students are scoring at a 12 percent proficiency in English (compared to the 24 percent U.S. average) and local students scored at 1 percent proficiency in Math (compared to the 5 percent U.S. average)!
The bottom line is we are all on the same boat, and our community must respond now to this alarming challenge. We all know that change and reform is needed in our overall school system if we want to improve student achievement. Efforts are underway within Guam DOE, but more must be done.
Fortunately, a small team of innovative, progressive and vocal leaders in our community are taking an important role in examining how our community can help improve the chances of success for all students. The Career and Technology Education (CTE) Task Force continues to meet to support the development of a CTE system for Guam. As I have written in the past, Career and Technology Education calls for rigorous and relevant education in the classroom. Put simply, it blends traditional classes, such as English, Science and Math, with the reality of college and careers after high school.
This will require a lot of work and support for all involved (parents, teachers, students, businesses, etc.). What’s exciting is that CTE helps break down the walls between the classroom and the real world. CTE creates the passage-way for students to see and learn the connection between subject matter and life after high school. The goal is for our youth to work through this passage-way toward successful college and work performance. Students are then able to better navigate their career path early to prepare themselves for a highly competitive and demanding job market.
Note that CTE is not another catch phrase or phase; it is the approach that national education leaders are embracing to bring about a revolutionary change in how we prepare our students for success. I hope to see this for Guam.