The standard is more important than the test

as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin announced, in essence, that Arkansas schools will follow the recommendation of his Council on Common Core Review by dropping PARCC assessments and switching to ACT Aspire. Both tests assess students regarding mastery of Common Core State Standards. However, in a somewhat shocking move, the State Board of Education voted 7-1 to reject this and maintain PARCC testing. Adding to the political intrigue, multiple state legislators have announced that discussion regarding a possible special session to force the change has begun.

The problem is not which assessment is being used. The real problem is whether or not our students are being educated in the manner necessary to become contributing members of society, informed citizens and employable skilled workers. Often, the difference between a city only having stores that sell potato chips or receiving a new factory that makes computer chips is the skill level of the workforce.

Over twenty years of restaurant/retail management experience, as well as that of being a father, has shown me that people rise to the standard expected of them. If a parent casts a vision and sets an expectation that members of their household will appreciate education, then more often than not, members of that household will meet that expectation. Conversely, if parents show that pop culture and trending fashion is more important than time tested academics, members of that house will more than likely meet that expectation as well. If a manager/teacher/parent talks to a teenager as if they were an adult, then they are more likely to get an adult response, but if one treats them like a small child, they are almost guaranteed to receive a childlike response.

The same holds true in a classroom. Self esteem is not the only standard to be taught in the classroom. Other standards are required as well: lessons such as hard work, personal accountability, the consequences for failing to meet the standard and that “real life” doesn’t lower the bar or give extra credit work to those that fail to meet the standard in the workplace. No matter how nice or beautiful an employee is, they will not retain a job, much less build a successful career if they can not count, communicate, and follow instructions (otherwise known as reading, writing and arithmetic).

A well-rounded education opens doors of opportunity and hope to all, while a lack of education limits dramatically. This is not to say that the more educated a person is, the more valuable they are. There have been many great men and women, particularly in past generations, with no more than a third grade education. It isn’t the degree or diploma that decides a person’s worth, however, the more well rounded and educated a person becomes, the more enjoyable and complete ones life can become.

Decisions regarding the future of PARCC testing in Arkansas schools are being made in Little Rock, but the real life-changing impact of educational standards and student assessment is felt strongest in the homes of Arkansas hometowns such as Blytheville. In fact, all aspects of our lives, from crime levels, job opportunities and the ability of our children to one day provide food on their own tables depend upon the standard we demand of our students today.

I agree wholeheartedly with local superintendents that say that the assessment is of less consequence than the standards. If the standards are taught, the assessment will take care of itself. Teach the standards, don’t teach the test.

I thank God for every dedicated father, mother, grandparent, neighbor, friend, teacher and administrator dedicated to educating our students and improving our city. Thank you.

About Tom Henry 133 Articles

My Biography

I have been fortunate to have held a number of very interesting and diverse jobs over the years. Those jobs have ranged from being a newspaper reporter (twice), restaurant and retail single unit store manager (numerous), restaurant multi-unit manager, a Christian bookstore manager, an online hospitality management recruiter and pastor. I have been used numerous times to turn troubled stores into profitable stores with double digit increases in sales and national top ten rankings (multiple times). God has gifted me with talents, experiences and spiritual gifting that allows me to get “right to the root of the problem” very quickly.

Additionally, I have three college degrees including a Master of Arts in history from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville.

I spend all of my non-work time with the sweetest woman I’ve ever met, Carol. Together we have four children (ranging in age from 19 to 25). She is without a doubt the answer to many years of fervent prayer. I have never been happier than I am now.

In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, traveling (especially to historic/civil war sites), learning, intellectual discussion and singing/deejaying. Carol and I live an hour north of Memphis and love to go “walking in Memphis, ten feet off of Beale”.

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