Washington’s kids will soon receive their scores from the new math and English assessments they took last spring. It’s important to remember that these tests are just one piece of a comprehensive strategy that focuses on deeper understanding of subjects in order to better to prepare students for college, work, and life.
The strategic framework – Washington state’s K-12 Learning Standards – set a bar for what students should know at each grade level and serve as a floor of basic academic expectations in math and English language arts. Created by teachers and subject-matter experts, the standards also foster multidisciplinary lessons that mirror real-world learning experiences. They’re deliberately designed to develop stronger critical thinking, complex problem solving, and effective communication skills.
Historically, there’s been confusion about student achievement levels because each state had its own standards and tests that yielded achievement data that were not comparable with those of other states. This left us wondering if a high school diploma in Washington signified the same implied mastery of knowledge and skill as a diploma from other states.
This was of even greater concern for the two million children from military families who move an average of six to nine times from kindergarten through 12th grade. This can be a frustrating experience as these students often find themselves either ahead or behind their new school peers because of the lack of consistency among states’ education standards and assessments.
During my 33 years in the US Army, I saw firsthand how today’s servicemen and women operate within complex systems and find themselves in intense situations that require not only proficiency in technology, but strategic thinking, decisiveness and diplomacy.
With this in mind, it is alarming that the Department of Defense reports that poor educational achievement is one of the biggest reasons more than 70 percent of young Americans are unable to join the military, many because they cannot pass the military’s entrance exam that tests math, literacy and problem-solving.
This is why the generals and admirals of the national security organization Mission: Readiness support high and more consistent standards as a benefit to all K-12 students. Young Americans, no matter where they live or how often they move to a new school, deserve the best preparation possible for their future success in college, in the workforce, or in service to their country in the military.
Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army-retired, lives on Fox Island and is a member of Mission: Readiness, a national organization of retired admirals and generals.