Anyone following education in our region, state and nation certainly realizes substantial change is in the air. And, as so often is the case, it takes someone in the profession to understand the significance of what is occurring at the various levels of government in regards to educating our children.
That is why we want to express our utmost appreciation to Dr. Rita Cook, superintendent of the Middlesboro Independent School District. For those that have been reading our newspaper over the past few months, Dr. Cook has made a significant and concentrated effort to inform the people of our community about the drastic changes taking place in the state and federal departments of education. Much of this change involves assessment of student performance in what is referred to in her profession as “high-stakes testing.”
It is good to know that as busy as she is overseeing operations of her school district, that she and her staff are taking extra steps to inform our parents and the community-at large of what is taking place not only in her district, but to education in general.
Most recently, Dr. Cook informed us of the new student report cards that will be issued later this month on the new academic and core standards. She emphasized that these reports will be much different than previously seen. Not only did she educate our citizens, but our newspaper staff as well. So often, newspapers are blamed for reporting “only the negative.” As a result of Dr. Cook’s efforts to keep us abreast of upcoming changes, she has told us to expect a drop in student scores as a result of the new testing system.
An analogy she uses is: “It may be helpful to think about the transition being made by your child and their school to new standards and new tests like this: it’s similar to a child who plays basketball on an 8-foot goal in middle school moving up to a 10-foot goal in high school. The child has the same athletic ability that they had in middle school, but the new standard - a 10-foot goal- is tougher and will require some adjustment. It’s reasonable to expect that your child will need time to adjust to the new standards. In the same way, the new standards our schools and students are being measured by are tougher, she said. The height of the goal has been raised.”
We feel confident that the educators in the Middlesboro and Pineville school districts will quickly get a grasp on the changes and work diligently to enhance student and school performance.
Being an educator these days isn’t an easy task. Therefore, we want to brag on all of our teachers, support staff and administrators. We ask you to give an educator a “pat on the back” too for responding to the many changes in their profession. However, we especially want to commend Dr. Cook for stepping out and helping us all understand what is coming our way through new assessment results.