Our governor seems to be taking a shotgun approach to improving education, with more emphasis on his own priorities (teacher pay, lengthening student day) than a more comprehensive approach.
A year ago, six task forces were formed to make recommendations on how to transform education. Five of those task forces have given their final reports. One has not. The charge of that task force is to make recommendations on taking Iowa to a system based on student competency. This would not be competency based on some theoretical end-of-year test in grades 3, 10 or 12. Rather, it would make sure every student (as far as possible) is competent in all subjects at all times before moving on to the next level of complexity. Now that would be transformative.
If competency-based education (CBE) is deemed useful, then everything else would fall into place. It would give us a target and a way to determine what is needed to achieve that overreaching goal — a way to help determine if paying teachers differently, lengthening the day, or asking teachers to take on more leadership would help further a specific goal.
We can’t reach a destination until we know exactly where we want to end up. And the one task force that could help us determine that destination is the one given the least emphasis so far. What does that say about the trip we are taking?
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