In today’s Albuquerque Journal, readers received a lesson in the “butterfly theory” and its application to K-12 education. I’m not sure if the author is simply an education bureaucrat and part of the establishment who views any and all reforms as harmful to his own power or if he has an alternative (unstated set of reforms), but his claims that Gov. Martinez’s proposed reforms “won’t work” are all wet.
For starters, he claims that the “A-F” grading mechanism is not useful because it is a “reductionist approach.” There is really nothing that can be said about that except that any and all tools used to measure success/failure found in this world are “reductionist” by definition. If your kid gets an “F” in a particular class, that doesn’t mean that they don’t know ANY of the material in that class. Instead, it means that on the whole, there is a major problem that must be addressed.
It’s the same thing with a movie’s rating. A movie may have had some nifty special effects or a really great plot, but if some aspect of the movie just didn’t make sense, it is not going to get a “5 star” rating. The “reductionist” approach is not perfect, but it is the only way to analyze the situation without having parents actually sit through every class with their child. That is the point.
Anyway, the fact is that the reforms making up the so-called “Florida Model” go far beyond the “A-F” grading system and stopping social promotion. Increased school choice, virtual schools, and an increased focus on literacy all contributed to its success. Rather than throwing stones, Mr. Bower should try proposing some specific reform ideas.