Frederick professor seeks standardized-testing reform -- Gazette.Net



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Pam Ward is looking to take her experience as a math teacher to the Frederick County Board of Education.

As a math teacher in a Georgia school system during the 1990s, and now as an adjunct professor at Frederick Community College, Ward said she wants to concentrate her efforts in the classroom.

For example, if elected, Ward would advocate that students in the same classroom learn individually based on their academic levels. The classroom would be divided, with students learning the same subject at different levels, she said.

“No two students learn the same,” she said. “Listen to the parents, because they know their child best. It’s not a one-size-fits all model. They may be learning the same subject, but not at the same level.”

Ward admits this approach can be burdensome for some teachers, who would instruct differently for those students struggling to keep up, and those that are far ahead.

“It takes a lot of organization for teachers, but more of this should be going on in the classroom,” she said. “As a teacher you’ve got to be organized and you’ve got to know your students well.”

Ward said she also wants to work with the state to streamline or cut back on some of the required testing in schools.

Ward said she has spoken with many teachers who say preparing students for state mandated testing takes time away from learning other subjects.

“Teachers have so much they have to do,” she said. “They have so much planning and instruction, but they feel an urgency to teach to the test.”

Ward also said she wants to better recognize students and teachers for doing exceptional work in the classroom.

“There can be a winner,” she said. “They have them in (the) Super Bowl, but not in the classroom. There is not enough recognition for our teachers. We reward them with salaries, but that is just not enough. We need more words of encouragement. We need to thank them all the time.”

For example, Ward said teachers are given a certain amount of money to spend on classroom materials. If they spent less than that amount, they should be recognized, she said.

“They should be rewarded for not spending that money,” she said. “It’s common sense.”

Ward is one of 12 people running for the school board in the April 3 primary. The candidates are competing for three of seven seats on the board. Members serve four-year terms and hold staggered elections every two years.

School board members are paid $10,000 annually. The president of the board makes $11,000. The race is nonpartisan, so the top six vote-getters in the primary will move on to the general election Nov. 6.

sgreenfield@gazette.net