Time for a new suit

Published 12:16 am Sunday, October 12, 2014

When the Emperor paraded through town in his beautiful and enchanting new suit, most folks just bowed and complimented him on his incredible sense of style. But one little child in his innocence described what was really there, exposing, as it were, the fact that there was nothing to see there.

We’re reminded of that children’s story in light of the comments made by a group of elementary school teachers from Suffolk during a School Board meeting on Thursday.

While Suffolk’s school board and the administrators of its public school division continue to debate the efficacy of various educational programs designed to meet state standards and to move students from one grade to the next, four teachers took the opportunity of Thursday’s meeting to stand up and suggest that the Emperor was wearing no clothes.

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Locally administered tests intended to measure students’ readiness for the Virginia Standards of Learning assessments do not meet the needs of students, they said. The frequency of those tests doesn’t give students enough time to master new skills, and it doesn’t give teachers enough time to re-teach or remediate students who are having trouble before moving on to the next set of skills, they said.

What the teachers were saying publicly is something parents and other teachers have said privately — or, at least, less publicly — for a long time. Constantly testing students leaves little time to actually teach them. And educational quality is suffering in the long run.

Too much district testing and too much rigor “beats us down,” one of the teachers said.

Indeed. It’s long past time that someone pointed out the Emperor’s nakedness. Now, it’s time for the School Board to go about the business of putting some clothes on him.