Putting Our Time Where Our Priorities Are

Prioritization.  In today’s educational day and age, it’s all about prioritization.  We prioritize funding.  We prioritize teacher hiring.  We prioritize curriculum adoption.  We prioritize how we assess our students and how we measure our classrooms.  We decide what is most important to us, and make that the focus of our efforts. 

Without question, as a nation, we’ve prioritized the need to prepare all students for the rigors of both school and career.  That is the goal of public education in 2007.  We want rigorous instruction.  We want students graduating from high school.  We want students seeking (and demonstrating proficiency for) postsecondary education.  And we want students to qualify for well-paying jobs (while keeping such jobs in the United States).

How do we get there?  How do we meet such high expectations?  For the past five years, we’ve marketed school improvement on our success in both reading and math.  These skills are non-negotiable building blocks to academic and life success.  And they are needed in order to succeed in science, social studies, and other subjects beyond the elementary school years.  That’s why NCLB is focused on reading and math (with science soon turning the duo into a trio).  Put simply, reading and math skills are now king in terms of school improvement.

Earlier this week, CEP released its report on how elementary schools are spending their instructional time.  The findings?  Our schools are spending more time on math and reading since the passage of NCLB.  Obviously, then, other subjects are finding their time cut.

CEP’s findings has sent a ripple through the education community.  But why?  Don’t we expect our actions to match our rhetoric?  If we are prioritizing math and reading in elementary school, if we are assessing our schools based on student reading and math ability, isn’t that where we should focus our attention?

Of course it is.  We need to put our instructional time where our instructional priorities lie.  Instead of grousing about lost minutes in art or music or phys-ed instruction, shouldn’t we be asking if those 37 additional math/reading instructional minutes have resulted in measurable student improvement?  After all, isn’t that our goal?   

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s