To the Editor:
Education has never lacked for new mantras, programs, methods, and means—each touted as a cure for poor student achievement. The latest, “teacher accountability,” stands little chance of outshining any of the past attempts.
Why? Because we don’t want to acknowledge the real issue. All learning and growth in life has at its core individual skill, initiative, and work habits. Great teachers, steady and involved parents, and high-quality schools are certainly important. Poverty is also an anchor that drags on students and achievement. But by all accounts from high school teachers, issues related to student responsibility are the keys to success or failure.
A recent report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicated five factors that accounted for most of the differences in school proficiencies. Not one of the five mentioned teacher accountability, while three cited reasons involving student responsibility.
Life and experience tell us we need to place the onus for progress in school where it belongs: with the individual. Let’s give students a steady diet of ideas and programs that deliver this message: There is no free ride; to get from here to success you must buy a ticket and climb onboard. That might have more meaning and ultimate success than trying to hold someone else responsible for an individual’s learning.
Sun City West, Ariz.
A version of this article appeared in the October 06, 2010 edition of Education Week as Accountability Rests With the Students