Throughout the country parents are becoming proactive in demanding a more serious role in their children’s education. Until recently it was customary to rely on the local school board and professional educators to fulfill the educational needs of the students but this is no longer the case. Parents and community members are more active than ever in monitoring their community’s schools as they realize that their children’s future is dependent on their academic success. Today parents are vocal activists who monitor their community’s schools and are not restrained when voicing their wishes and expectations.
Some of the issues that parents want to address are the statistics that show that students’ test scores are plummeting, increased numbers of high school students drop out of high school and, of those students who do make it to graduation, many are unprepared to enter the work force or even to move on to further studies in trade schools, colleges or universities.
Government officials on all levels, from local school boards to Capitol Hill, are involved in the blame game. Chief among the culprits, many elected officials believe, is the No Student Left Behind law that was passed under the Bush administration. NSLB states that students must demonstrate a specific level of proficiency in basic subject matter in order to be promoted to the next grade.
The question is, why doesn’t NSLB work? Many educators and parents feel that the schools ignore the actual learning process as the teachers, by necessity, teach to the test. If a school proves itself, it’s rewarded, and if the school fails, budgets are cut and staff members’ jobs are on the line.
On the other hand, many educators, parents and other community members protest that the underlying reasons for students’ failure is not addressed by NSLB and may actually make the situation worse. There are numerous reasons that a student may not learn well and that lack of success may evolve into more serious failures.
To answer parents’ demands for a more effective school environment many school districts have adopted a new program, the System for Teacher and Student Advancement was created as a way of encouraging teachers and administrators to collaborate closely in improving teaching strategies, communication within the school, inter-staff relationships and student performance. The system promotes fundamental changes in the way that teachers see their job and their interactions with their colleagues.
TAP is implemented in schools where the teachers themselves have identified their weaknesses and requested assistance to address these issues. It is the brainchild of education reformer Lowell Milken who conceived the program, developed it and is now overseeing its implementation in schools nationwide. Its goals involve guiding educators to explore new avenues which will enable them to cultivate the potential of each student. Teachers are encouraged to develop and nurture each individual student’s knowledge, skills and experiences with the objective of enabling each student to aim for academic success as s/he prepares to move into the real world of study and work. It ultimately aims to increase educational productivity as the teachers prepare the students to become productive and contributing members of society.