It's A Motivational Breakdown, Not A Technical Breakdown!
By Dr. John Trotter
[This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.]
Georgia’s overall SAT ranking hasn’t changed hardly one whit (I guess that a whit is first cousin to a bit)
from its overall rankings 10 or 20 years ago on the SAT. It’s not worth getting all worked up about it. The Law
of Large Numbers is for real. Significant changes probably indicate some systematic fudging or cheating taking
place. Minimum Foundation, APEG, QBE, A+, NCLB — none of these programs brought about significant changes, although
programs (and the monies spent in Georgia from the
Federal NCLB) cost the taxpayers untold millions and billions. Hire good teachers, allow them to be creative in their teaching,
and support them in areas of student discipline. This is the best thing that can be done for the boys and girls in Georgia.
The definition for crazy is doing the same thing and getting the same results. Am I advocating a change
in instruction or a change in the curricula or a change in the way the schools are organized or a change in the school schedules?
No. As a society, we constantly change things, hoping that these changes will result in genuine student improvement on the
SAT and other standardized
tests. Do you remember the almighty middle school concept? What
about block scheduling? New math? Sight reading? Whole
language? Non-graded instruction? We could go on and on. Now the State is coming up with an even more biased
and onerous teacher evaluative process which is subject to major administrative abuse. Why? Another attempt to bring about
improvement. It’s not going to happen. The Law of the Large Numbers is
a law, folk. Somewhat like The Law of Gravity. You have to change either who
our students are or drastically change our current students’ attitudes toward rigorous academics. Just legislating more
laws or passing more policies without addressing the students themselves is like spitting toward a Tsunami! You just end up
with spit all over your face and clothes. But, no, no one wants to blame anything on the students or on their parents. This
would not be very political, but it would be the truth. I will continue to quote Dr. Eugene Boyce, one of my professors nearly
30 years ago at UGA: “The motivation to learn is a social process.” It’s a motivational breakdown, not a
technical breakdown. (c) MACE, August 25, 2009.