Chesterton Tribune

'A School' principal questions state's glib new ratings system

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Guest Commentary

By CRAIG STAFFORD

Chesterton Middle School Principal

Chesterton Middle School is proud to be considered an “A” school under the new grading guidelines established by the Indiana Department of Education.

At the same time, I have mixed feelings about this system. The grading system fails to truly recognize what it takes to educate a child in today’s educational environment. This system allows the public to simply skim the local newspaper and pass judgment on schools by seeing an A-F grade.

This is unfortunate for all schools across the grading spectrum. Indiana’s educators work too hard each day to simply have their job performance measured by a standardized test. An education is more than just test prep and testing. An education is about preparing our youth to become critical thinkers and successful citizens in a challenging global economy.

Unfortunately, the current mandates of funding cuts, competition, and standardized testing are forcing schools to put forth students who are great test takers rather than great leaders. Public schools are the backbone of this country. Schools should be well-funded entities that have unlimited resources to ensure that all children are receiving a first class educational experience.

At Chesterton Middle School, we are making a concerted effort to meet the demands of the current educational environment. We are also working hard to provide an optimal educational experience for the students who populate our classrooms. Currently, we are reshaping our teaching practices to mirror the concepts from the theory of multiple intelligences. This theory will allow our teachers multiple “entry points” in lesson planning to meet the needs of all learners. Chesterton Middle School’s teachers are reshaping their pedagogy and moving away from the traditional methods of lecture and regurgitation. The educators in our building are learning that we must value our students as people who have talents and knowledge that can be tapped by offering learning options within the classroom. Students can no longer be seen as “sponges” that are filled with facts and squeezed out when the adult needs those facts to reappear. Instead, students are young minds who have valuable thoughts and feelings. These young minds can be molded and guided in a direction that allows them to be free to express who they are in a challenging educational setting.

Also, Chesterton Middle School is going into its second year of “Community Nights”. These nights are sponsored by our academic departments, and allow our community to experience Chesterton Middle School through a series of activities. Last year we had over one thousand family, friends, and community members enjoy these evenings. These evenings included activities such as a snake handler, Chesterton Police K-9 demonstrations, rocket launches, game shows, athletic competitions, guest speakers and presenters, and contests. We look forward to seeing our community again this year, and providing everyone with a fun and exciting learning experience for all stakeholders who attend.

Again, we thank the Indiana Department of Education for recognizing our school, but Chesterton Middle School will be putting forth an “A” effort every day regardless of where we fall on the grading spectrum. Our first community night is science and math night on October 18th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Feel free to contact our school for further information about upcoming events.

 

Posted 10/7/2011