Many influences on pupil progress
It is difficult to develop a test that measures teacher achievement. Policymakers and test writers are working on a value-added test that measures pupil progress from one year to the next. Thus there is a starting point as well as ending point to ascertain a pupil's achievement. Between these two, a pupil's achievement is measured.
But how well does this determine a teacher's goodness or lack thereof in the classroom? During that one school year, there are a plethora of influences in addition to that of one teacher, such as:
* The home as well as the neighborhood.
Never miss a local story.
* Reading materials in the home.
* Models presented by parents and siblings reading to themselves.
* The influence of several teachers in departmentalized teaching.
* Traveling to and discussing interesting places visited.
There are numerous standardized tests to measure pupil achievement, but is there one to measure teaching quality based on a pupil's test results? The test needs to measure the one teacher's influence on pupil progress in value-added teaching to ascertain how effective the teacher is in the school setting. Validity then becomes highly salient. Otherwise, the evaluation is done on shaky grounds.
Truth in stimulus
As I was riding down 13th Street in west Wichita recently, I couldn't help but notice the much-needed road-resurfacing project and a very large, expensive-looking blue sign stating that this project was paid for by the ARRA, better known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
How does this temporary sign, to be relegated to a scrap pile soon enough, improve our infrastructure? Also, if we must use public dollars to pay for a sign giving credit to some politician's pet project, why can't there at least be some truth in advertising?
I suggest that we revise these signs to read: "This project paid for by your children and their children, with money borrowed from the Chinese government and other creditors, against the better judgment of the American electorate, by the now deposed 111th Congress and your president."
Let us, as voters, remember the names of all these politicians who insist on spending public dollars to put their names on signs, and swiftly vote them out of office.
I wrote personal letters (not printed, but individually addressed and signed) in early June to 43 Kansas state senators and representatives, both Democratic and Republican, from Sedgwick County and eight surrounding counties. The letters concerned suggested changes to the statewide smoking regulations.
I did not receive a single phone call, card, letter or other form of acknowledgment, except that Rep. JoAnn Pottorff, R-Wichita, and I had an in-person conversation about it.
I've been told for decades about how much state legislators value your ideas and opinions. Really? They're not even that busy now, since the Legislature isn't in session.
Apparently they don't even care enough to make a call or send a card to say, "Thanks for your letter." In the past, I have contributed to the campaign funds of at least a third of these legislators.
The next time one of them says how important your views are, don't believe a word of it.
Wichitan Jack DeBoer has written a significant book, "Risk Only Money." DeBoer's authenticity comes through on every page.
We learn of his battle with ego, his mistakes, his business success, his adventuresome nature, his lifelong friendships and his marriage of almost 60 years. He shares profound, insightful lessons he has learned over his 80 years. We see evidence of his creativity, his thoughtfulness, his discipline and his goodwill toward others.
DeBoer and his wife, Marilyn, have given much to many — not only in Wichita, but especially to the desperately needy in Myanmar (Burma). Their giving has changed their lives and those of many others.
The thoughts DeBoer communicates in this exceptional book could help change more lives. He has continued to think throughout his life, and it has paid off.
Thank you, Jack, for passing on helpful lessons you have learned along the way.
J. RICHARD COE