A new paradigm

“Keeping Score,” by Steven Allen Adams was front page Sunday, Sept. 15.

The public schools are not “making the grade,” in spite of the enormous effort of the West Virginia Department of Education, Adams reports. Schools seem to be falling backward.

“West Virginia’s schools saw a 1.2 percent decrease in the number of schools that did not meet English/language arts standards, while there was a 6 percent decrease in the number of schools not meeting math standards,” the report said.

In addition, “The number of schools not meeting attendance standards increased from 30.5 percent in 2017-18 to 38.6 percent last year,” Adams said.

He goes on “some schools with high graduation rates also don’t meet standards for post-high school achievement.” Yet Dr. Paine said “Our graduation rates continue to be as high as anyone in the country …”

Graduation rates do “make the grade.” However, attendance, post-secondary achievement numbers, English/language arts and math scores do not.

It seems the West Virginia Department of Education has defined the problem well.

What is the solution? To improve math scores, the Department of Education launched Math4Life. Michele Blatt, an assistant superintendent, said: “Math4Life helped move the needle on the Balanced Scorecard in a positive direction. I give huge credit to our Math4Life campaign because the Division of Teaching and Learning has taken the time to work with every district … and help them customize a plan for what they needed to do. I think that made a huge impact.”

How huge is huge? “Keeping Score” said “High school math standards saw a slight improvement, from 44.14 in 2017-18 school year to 44.17 last school year.” The state Department of Education made a very noble effort. I agree with Blatt, yet the impact of that effort was not huge.

For the attendance problem, “Keeping Score” was silent. It was also silent regarding post-secondary achievement numbers and English/language arts.

“Keeping Score” made plain the present educational paradigm has not solved our problems. The state Legislature became aware of this several years ago. They invited Mortimer J. Adler to speak about a “new paradigm.” This address and many other works of Adler explain the parts of the paradigm.

The new paradigm addresses the dignity of the individual, the dignity of labor, the natural construction of the curriculum, and the nature of teaching and learning. The words with which we must come to terms are “dignity” and “natural.”

“Keeping Score” made us aware of the problem. Adler has made plain the principles that must guide solutions.

Hopefully, the appointed members of the West Virginia Board of Education will study the natural principles of the new paradigm.

Lewis Rutherford



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