Ronald A. Dykes
Public education in this nation is entering a new era of reform. The state is at the forefront of that change through the implementation of the Tennessee Diploma Project which has intensified curricular rigor and accountability. This effort will improve instructional proficiency, as well as increase expectations for student progress at all levels of the educational continuum.This new opportunity to deliver the curriculum in unique and innovative ways is part of the inevitable change with which educators must deal effectively. What is important to remember is not that change will occur, but that such change is managed in ways that maximize resources and generates success at all levels.
Raising the bar on academics is not a new concept. Since the 1980s, virtually all states have given unparalleled attention to their role in raising standards. Much of the initiative for greater state involvement in education was derived from a federal commission report entitled A Nation at Risk that indicated American students were being outperformed on international academic tests by students from other industrialized nations. It is exactly that same concern that drives today's attempt to increase the academic standards significantly. Not only does this play a key role in local economic development, it will result in maintaining this nation's world status by preparing our students for international competition, and increasing the likelihood of preserving our democratic values.
Everyone living within the boundaries of Washington County is a shareholder in our school system. Students, parents, school personnel, and community members each have a vested interest in the educational process. All educators of the school district must accept their role of being accountable, responsible, and engaged in the learning process for each and every student. It is important that parents establish personal goals for their children and become active participants in their learning by encouraging them to strive to maximize their academic potential. Research indicates that the classroom teacher is the most important factor in the child's formal learning process. Our faculties and staff continually examine their vital role in meeting the educational needs of all students; parents should make sure that their children take full advantage of the educational opportunities we provide. My administration strives to insure that taxes dollars used to support the schools are spent to promote educational excellence. This most effective use of tax revenue to provide better schools increases the likelihood of economic development county wide.
The challenges of increased curriculum standards will bring new demands upon all participants in the educational system and should be of concern to all stakeholders. State officials contend that the annual Report Card, which is an accounting of academic progress for all school districts, will likely show an initial decline in student proficiency. However, with the implementation of new teaching strategies and a focus on student commitment, that academic achievement curve should turn upward within the next few years. Until that occurs it is important not to lose sight of the long range objectives which will ultimately better prepare our students to be successful in the world of tomorrow.
As Director of Schools, it is my goal to insure educational excellence by providing quality instruction. It is imperative that we devise a strategy to increase the level of support required to develop educational initiatives that will best fit the changing needs of all students. In a cooperative venture we must all make a commitment to improving our instructional programs so that student achievement will meet or exceed the high accountability standards demanded by the state and our community.