Greetings Des Moines Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette Editors and all--

What Iowa educators fail to understand is that when they blame students for poor performance, there are three major consequences:

1)    Educators are admitting they lack the ability to effectively understand and teach concepts to all learning styles;

2)    Educators violate the 14th Amendment rights of all students to access a quality education.

3)    Educators haven’t figured out the Iowa Core, which Iowa schools are forced to use, is causing reading students to fall farther and farther behind students in states using Common Core.

Newton Daily News editors understand this and published the following Dr. Sue Atkinson Op Ed the Register and Gazette editors won’t even seriously consider, as they carry ISEA teacher union water and continue to mislead readers and protect Iowa’s failing schools.


Iowalive   A growing network of volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa

Blame the student approach ineffective

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 11:04 a.m. CDT

Periodically, I review the reports and minutes of meetings posted on the Iowa Department of Education website. The week of Sept. 15 saw several items regarding Special Education in Iowa. While it is good to know it is under required review, it is disturbing that the perception by those responsible for this service continues to be that it is the student with the disability rather than the system (for ineffective curriculum, ineffective teaching and/or ineffective remediation). The history of this type of thinking is important to understand because Iowa is presently on hold for improving student proficiencies, unable to achieve the existing low 41st NPR (when grade level is 65th NPR).

Iowa educators like to brag that Iowa was among the top in the national NAEP exams until the early 1990s (and continues to drop). Iowa’s “blame the student” approach to Special Ed artificially created this circumstance, and its abuse led to Iowa’s downfall by the early 1990s. The position of Iowa educators, in their dysfunctional system of memorization, was that students who struggled had a disability. These students were labeled “Special Ed,” and either did not take assessment tests or their scores were not counted, in the false belief they had a disability. Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics shows Iowa to have been among the top states in the country for numbers of students in Special Ed, beginning to drop only after passage of NCLB forbade excluding low test scores and not testing all students for improved proficiencies, and the present Every Child Succeeds Act continues to insist all children will be tested for improvement. This change is reflected in the Iowa Department of Education minutes of the September 15 meetings on this issue.

In addition to not testing and not counting low test scores, Iowa education periodically lowered the standards when 50 percent of the students could not pass the exams (on average every three years). By the early 1990s, the standards were so low that even excluding Special Ed students could not keep Iowa at the top of the national NAEP exams. The argument today that Iowa is somehow hurting students by not designating them Special Ed. fails in a deeper analysis of the data and why the numbers used to be as high as they were. What Iowa needs is effective teaching and effective remediation, but there is no understanding as yet.

Sue Atkinson