01/25/05 — School scores: Let our guide be Esse Quam Videri

View Archive

School scores: Let our guide be Esse Quam Videri

North Carolinians have taken understandable pride in the fact that their state has been recognized for its leadership in testing to assure that children perform acceptably in reading and math skills.

At last report, 70 percent of our youngsters met the prescribed national standards in their test scores.

The credit goes back perhaps to Wayne County’s own Charles B. Aycock — recognized historically as the state’s “Education Governor.” And, for certain, it must include Jim Hunt who, through a record four terms as governor, made education the hallmark of his administrations.

But most assuredly it is a reflection on the outstanding work of our youngsters and their dedicated teachers.

But now comes a rather troublesome question: Has “the system” made end-of-grade tests too easy?

The head of the independent N.C. Education Alliance, Kindalyn Kakadelis, who served on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, suggests that might be the case. She was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the system needs to be “more honest” on the issue.

If the results are misleading, that should be a real concern to all of us.

But there was another message in the AP story:

“Educators are considering ways to make end-of-grade tests harder without making it too difficult for schools to meet federal performance requirements — or angering parents and politicians who wouldn’t want to see a slump in test results.“

The feelings of parents and politicians cannot be ignored, of course. But neither can they be allowed to compromise the real purpose of our schools — giving our youngsters the very best education possible. That’s what the students want and that’s what the teachers want

Political and image concerns, carried too far, could lead to a potential “dumbing down” of an education system. Or they can impede improvement.

Obviously, educating politicians and some parents is an essential dimension of the challenge facing today’s education system.

Perhaps we can begin by reminding them and ourselves of the state motto: Esse Quam Videri — To Be Rather Than to Seem.

Published in Editorials on January 25, 2005 11:11 AM