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Context Florida: Ed Moore: It’s essential that we continue to raise education standards

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Education is the most important ingredient for the growth and expansion of a lasting and fruitful civil society. The absence of education can be directly linked to most, if not all, of the social ailments we face.

Education is the catalyst for all of us to advance in life, both professionally and spiritually. It enables us to climb the ladder of success, to live honest and caring lives and to raise our children to adopt and share our morals, virtues and aspirations.

In Florida, we have spent decades engaged in debate about the mechanics of learning. We argue about the value of testing, the application of test results, and how to best grade our schools.

I believe that if you do not measure, you do not care. If we don’t measure our success, how will we become successful?

If we do not know what is being taught and retained by students, then we also do not know where we struggle, and how we can improve. Often we are preoccupied in the kitchen worrying about which pots and pans we use, and we forget that our purpose is to cook a meal that sustains and nurtures our children.

It is clear that Florida has made significant progress in education over more than a decade of enhanced measurement of student performance. Our scores, promotion rates, and high school graduation rates are up, yet nowhere near acceptable levels. We are doing much better at imparting knowledge, and students at retaining it.

But we must do better.

We can argue about the origins of Common Core State Standards and engage in political discourse about the value of federal engagement in education.

But we should agree that setting a higher bar, and yes, one that changes as we improve, is beneficial.

Consistency of purpose and a long-term prescription for improvement should be the focal points when we evaluate our education system. We have seen some rapid changes over time in both processes and structure. Perhaps we all need to take a breath, assemble the talent available in Florida to assess where we stand, and keep in place rigid assessments, but consider how these assessments are used.

We need a road map to success that allows our state to compare our performance to other states and countries.

We cannot afford to lose the ground we have gained. We cannot afford to turn back the clock and move away from assessing our progress.

We can, however, regularly alter how assessments are used and increase our focus on improvement and remediation. Our future depends on how we tackle the tasks before us.

Education matters. Our children matter. They should be our focus moving forward.

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