Education Corner 9 - the C-word

By Richard Womack, Ed.D - 31 DEC 2015

Last edition I wrote about the R-word- Respect. I wondered out loud about the difference between having respect (in one’s heart) and showing respect (by one’s actions). I was speaking about what we in the U S might call manners or social etiquette. By the end of the EC column I noted I was happy a Pohnpei Studies Program was being introduced next year and I am sure our Pohnpeian experts in Pohnpeian Culture will handle the R-word just fine. It is the C-word-Culture that is a good topic for the year’s final EC. It’s good because it comes with two other C-words- Confusion and Change. These are very good C-words as well. Culture is social studies with standards and benchmarks to be learned by students. And it is confusing as it is taught in an environment of cultural change. No one can stop change we can only make decisions how we will manage or cope with the change. We have already mentioned language. Language is a group’s primary cultural marker—the language in the FSM is English this shows you the first major change. A look at Trust Territory education gives us three other drivers of change.
American Schools—Trust Territory Times (1945-1986, taken from Micronesian Seminar) and directly from An Introduction to Professional Teaching and Student Learning
The educational thrust of the American administration for 40-plus years is difficult to summarize in a few sentences. Early policies, established under the Navy and the first decade of the Civil Administration in the Trust Territory, were later reversed during the 1960s, as hundreds of classrooms were built, expatriate teachers hired on, and English made the official medium of instruction in the schools. Additional educational programs for those outside of schools were implemented, largely through U.S. federal programs. The handicapped, the aged, unemployed, school dropouts, teachers with previous classroom experience, and others have been the target of these programs.
It is not easy to find a clear statement of the educational goals of the American administration, particularly one that is adequate to encompass the various kinds of educational activities that the U.S. has undertaken. There were, however, certain implicit goals that seem to underlie the direction (that education in Micronesia has) taken during the past ten years. In the first place, education was aimed at preparing young and old to participate in a democratic society, one in which their own choices are of great consequence. Hence, the school system aimed at providing the kind of information and mental enlightenment that would enable future voters to understand a democratic government and to make wise and constructive choices in the future. It should be noted that this is the same basic aim that education experts have ascribed to the public school system in the United States. Understandably enough, American education has been charged with the task of preparing the young for insertion into a democracy; and when American education travels abroad, it is likely to retain the same fundamental goal—even in those overseas possessions without a democratic cultural tradition.
Second, education in the Trust Territory seemed to be about directing Micronesians towards the larger world beyond their islands. In principle, at least, education was to prepare Micronesians to adapt to the inevitable changes that will be brought here in the future, as well as to adjust to new surroundings elsewhere if they choose to leave the islands. This goal was reflected in the orientation our college age students to the curriculum of the “great world beyond”. This resulted in the push to send as many young people as possible to colleges outside of Micronesia. The very decision to use English as the medium of instruction in the schools was partially based on the reasoning that it would provide an effective communication link with the outside world.
Third, education was geared to encourage people to fully enter the money economy. The young Micronesian, it was expected, would move directly from school into wage employment. One of the major concerns of education in recent years, in fact, has been furnishing suitable enough skill training in school so that the student will be able to find a job after his/her graduation (if he/she is not lucky enough to be able to attend still another school). At times, it began to appear as if the real purpose of school was to equip the young for future employment.
There are, no doubt, a number of other important characteristics of present-day education in Micronesia that could be added. These three, however, are enough to illustrate the fact that the major goals of education—and of political and economic development as well—have a distinctively American (U S) flavor to them. Democratic participation in society, an openness to the world-at-large, and entrance into the dollar economy imply certain values that are fundamental to a people. And it is these values—especially the one of freedom of choice—that underpins American education. These are new values and when adopted by education force us into an environment of cultural change. Just look around—change is all around us.
Finally, what do you think is the purpose of education in Micronesia today? Is it for employment or for skills to emigrate if there are no jobs? Perhaps it is. But to many educators the task of education is to help society cope with change. We cannot stop change but perhaps it can be managed a bit. As a student once told the author many years ago—“I am here at CCM to learn the new ways and my brother was left home to learn the old ways. I know that a lot of what I will learn about the new ways may not be good and that I will have to give up some of the old ways. The whole thing frightens me.” This gentleman is soon to retire with 30 years in the U S military and still greets Micronesians in Hawaii reminding them of their pride and the changes they are about to find. The brother who stayed home to learn the old ways learned of navigation from his uncle Pius "Mau" Piailug. Teaching and learning culture is not as easy as we might wish it were as these two brothers from Satawal taught me.

Education Corner 8 - Understanding Evidence in English

by Richard Womack, Ed.D - 10 DEC 2015

Several weeks ago I attended an FSM workshop to discuss results of the National Minimum Competency Test (NMCT) in Reading and Mathematics. These tests, developed by our good partners from the Pacific Resources for Educational Laboratory (PREL), are the only FSM nation's educational student assessment instruments developed for FSM use at present. In all the FSM schools reading tests are given to 6th, 8th and 10th graders and math tests to the 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th graders. The results of students, their scores, are our evidence of student learning in English Reading and English Math. I say English Math because it is taught and learned using words. You always hear that math is a "Universal Language" as if was spoken by everyone. While a formula y=mx+b is the same world-wide the teacher must explain using words. It must be explained that the formula is about the slope of a line-how steep a line is, the angle of the line and even if the line is backwards. The teachers teach this and the students learn this in English. To keep everything simple our students' academic achievement rises and falls on students' ESL skills. EC readers understand this—you do not have to like it and many don't. It does not mean we ignore our vernacular languages but English is the name of the game for academic success—like it or not. This has nothing to do with intelligence and there are many geniuses that do not speak English and many brilliant people who have never been in a school classroom. It's a skill to be taught and learned. If we want improved evidence it will come from improved English teaching. Moreover, I am considered fairly competent with English because people see me reading, writing, listening and speaking English at a high level. But I cannot teach English—I was not trained in this special skill. Not only must our teachers be highly competent in reading, writing, listening and speaking English they must teach the language-knowing English and teaching English are not the same. . And while I do not have such skills I admire our teachers as they work at this. But we must do more than admire effort we must improve the teachers so they can improve the students—and their evidence on tests as the NMCT. The U S Government would like improvement in FSM and Pohnpei and ties this improvement to our funding for education. While this is important we cannot think this way. We want improved scores because they indicate our children are building their foundation for academic success. We are going to improve—but we are not doing this for the United States—we must do it for ourselves.
Continuing, at the workshop participants reviewed the reading and the math scores data but most important the participants learned more about a very difficult subject, statistics. Important for and all information was presented in English. As said, English is my native language and I have even taught a little "basic statistics" to my students— of course in English. I do not know about the other participants but I had to keep my brain in high gear and listen very carefully. Because statistics is difficult but everything was in English and I was grateful. The PREL consultants and the group discussed a "Student Report Card" something that took the students' scores and could show parents (and the community) how the students performed in everyday language to everyday people. The question was asked— should this "Student Report Card" be in the vernacular language? I wondered to myself if statistics even in vernacular could be made clear to parents.
Continuing further, I slipped out of the workshop and headed for my Parent Club meeting at Nett School where we have a 6th grader. My wife Kanep had to attend to a family emergency and sent me on my own—armed with my college degrees but with only poor Pohnpeian language skills. I saw many of my fellow parents (and caregivers), friends, and family. I was greeted warmly as Kaniki not Dr. Womack and always in the vernacular. The Parents Club President was the only exception—he acknowledged me publically and I said in my weak Pohnpeian "I will help the school in any way I can" waived, sat down and kept my mouth shut. The rest of the meeting I could always "get the drift" but when they began talking really fast about specifics on some construction—I was lost. I can get by and understand the general but often get lost in the specifics. I thought about the "Student Report Card". Most of the folks at the meeting had English skills about like my Pohnpeian. A group of parents in the U S would not likely understand the "stats" in their own language so I am unsure just how this evidence on reading and math will made clear to my fellow parents at Nett-regardless of language.
Finally today EC concludes with old some news and some good news. The old news may be new news to EC readers. Imagine this-every teacher in every grade must teach standards in all the following besides reading and math. Every teacher in every grade (1- 8) must teach—science and social studies. Every year in every grade the standards require Science as Inquiry-Earth and Space Science-Life and Environmental Science- Physical Science and Technology-Marine Science-Civics/Government-History— Geography-Culture and Economics. Every teacher in every grade is responsible for teaching all of these. Are all of these taught by every grade and every teacher? Are there books for students and teachers for every subject every year-every grade?- Wisely in these subjects PDOE is beginning this month to test every single elementary school teacher on the science and social studies standards. We must be sure that our teachers understand before they teach. That data will show us where teachers are weak so we can provide Continuing Education. Together with the testing and we will survey all curriculum materials in every elementary school—every grade and every room. Then we make the appropriate books at the appropriate reading levels. EC will give you updates on this project and with data you will understand and show you exactly how PDOE intends to get good student learning evidence in science and social studies.

Education Corner 5

The EC readers have some class work rather than homework so please do read carefully and participate today
Little Willy's Evidence
Look at Little Willy's math problems. Look the problems over, correct them and then make some comment on Little Willy's work. How did he do? What has Little Willy learned? Just comment about what you see here. Look carefully.
1) 2+2=4
2) 3+3=6
3) 2+4=7
Comment: __________________________ ___________________________________ __
If you are like most readers, you will see there are certain things you can say about Little Willy and these problems. You could say "Little Willy is doing addition." That would be true. You might go further and say "Little Willy is doing simple addition problems" and that is also true. You might also say "Little Willy is doing simple addition problems using one digit numbers" and that would be good and very true as well. However, if you are like most people you probably looked at Little Willy's problems and then said "Hey, Little Willy missed #3. 2+4 is 6 not 7." If you saw this, you likely said this right away and, of course, you are correct. 2+4 does not equal 7. Some people (most) are actually happy when they see this obvious mistake. They report that they thought the mistake was accidental and they like to find mistakes. They say they like to find out when something is wrong and point the error out. Students say they "feel smart" when they find mistakes made in books or by their teachers. We could also ask how we should mark Little Willy's paper. Some of you might say "Get a red pen and mark that #3 wrong." Let's let Little Willy know right away that #3 is incorrect—#3 is wrong. Yes, that would certainly show Willy that one was wrong—#3. A big red mark—an X. Finding out what is not correct is important but it is not everything.
Let's stop and think for just one moment. You could have said "Hey Little Willy got #1, #2, #4 and #5 correct." You could have looked at the problems and said "Four problems are correct." That is an equally correct answer, Right? Of course, it is true and correct but somehow to say four are correct does not seem as important as the idea that one was wrong. Think about four out of five being correct. That certainly is not bad. If you are playing baseball and you go to bat five times and get four hits—that's .800 or eight-hundred as baseball players call it. If you are playing basketball and you make four out of five in shooting that is 80% (the same as .800). And 80% in basketball is quite good even great. And all students know that 80% is usually a B or B- and that's pretty good. So maybe we could have looked at little Willy's paper and said "This is quite good Willy got four correct and only one incorrect. I think I will put four big C's next to #1 #2 #4 and #5. We look to correct the paper with numbers or quantitatively. In education we measure this way—quantitatively. If we measure with words—like Little Willy did good, poor or bad that is called qualitative assessment and words like these are not how we measure. Good, average and poor does not give us evidence where 90%, 70% or 50% gives us better evidence.
This is just a little activity to get you thinking about this idea of assessing or evaluating or even grading. The mistake was made on purpose. It was made for several reasons. First, it was made to show you that perhaps we all look for or zero in on the negative first and maybe that is not always the best way to see assessment and evaluation. The mistake was made so that you might think about assessment, evaluation and grading as seeing what is right or correct as well as what is wrong or incorrect. Second, the mistake was made so that you had something to correct and improve for Little Willy's paper for next time. We are happy for Willy and his 80%, but we cannot ignore the fact that Little Willy somehow believes that 2+4=7. We must help little Willy, and in this case it is very easy. "Hey Little Willy," you might say. "Next time you see 2+4, make two marks and then four marks on your scratch paper—then count them up. You will have six." Or "Little Willy, next time put up two fingers on one hand and four fingers on the other. Use your nose to count them and you will see that 2+4=6." We want beginning teachers to think this way. We want a parent to look at what is right AND what is not right. Then, we want you to look at all this through the "eyes of improvement." We know that if you look at evidence as how to improve teaching and learning you will be better for this. If there is something incorrect—what must we do to make it correct? If Little Willy misses lots of problems, like four out of five, then somehow we must say—can the teacher do something better? Can the teacher do better if he uses some manipulatives or rocks or marbles? Results of tests and scores that represent learning are far too often used for ranking students and schools or used to criticize teachers and the schools. When results are not good, the first thing we must say is—how can we improve this? This year EC will discuss some test scores of Pohnpei students. No one will be happy with the scores but if we think improvement we will not be discouraged. And EC will offer some ways to improve teaching so we can get about improving student learning. Student learning can always be improved. Evidence will show us some areas needs lots of improvement other areas not as much. But think improvement!
Lastly, how would you say Little Willy did—qualitatively (with words)? If you know Little Willy is in the first grade, you probably say he did pretty well or not too bad. If the student is called Little Willy because he is a short 12th grader, you might say not too well or pretty bad. This is because adding these simple numbers are first-grade benchmarks and not 12th. Either way, Little Willy gets 4 out of 5 or 80%—which is the quantitative answer but the fact that it represents a 1st grade benchmark is very important-so words do have a place here.

Education Corner 7 - More about Evidence

Readers, we think you have likely already guessed that recent columns have tried to introduce the idea of assessing or gathering evidence of student learning. This is the concern to all of us—what are the children learning in school and how well are they learning it. Further, as a community, what evidence or proof do we need from the schools our children attend? How do we know just exactly what our children are learning? Do student grades tell us? Or do test scores tell us? In fact talking with you about evidence that our Pohnpeian (and FSM) students are learning will be the focus for EC for months to come. But please remember if we are not happy with the grades or test scores it is just an opportunity for improvement. This is our Education Corner theme. Assessment should always be used for improvement
Last EC we left you with many frustrated parents at a graduation wondering how their children made the "B" honor role but did not pass the entrance test with a score high enough to enter the high school. Recall the test was based upon the 8th grade curriculum standards and the test was to give some evidence as to the students learning at the end of elementary school. A little review here— standards are what the students are supposed to be achieving–reading and writing at an 8th grade level; doing math at an 8th grade level; and understanding their social studies and their sciences at an 8th grade level.
Naturally, the parents in the story had every right to ask the question-how can this happen? And it is very understandable why the parents were upset. Can you figure out what happened at this school? Some might say that the teachers were grading too easy. But what does 'too easy' mean? Others might say teachers were not teaching the material, the curriculum properly. Many go as far as saying the 8th grade teachers are just "bad" teachers or even the 7th and 8th grade teacher were "bad". But, whatever, we can speculate this for sure. If the test was based upon the FSM Curriculum Standards and Benchmarks for 8th grade, then certainly these benchmarks were not learned by 2/3rds of the 8th grade class. The students were not learning the 8th grade standards. Perhaps they were still learning 5th or 6th grade standards. Or perhaps they did not learn the 7th-grade standards before they went to 8th grade standards. Many different things could have gone wrong but one thing was obvious. The students did not learn the standards, and the B grades did not indicate "above average" on 8th grade standards. But what does this mean? In keeping with the EC theme— Assessment Is For Improvement—it means this school had better get about improving something. And while we told you the story was not absolutely true, let's just say a few things were altered to protect those involved so many years ago.
However, the story had a very happy ending. With a little help the school principal analyzed the test scores and found out the areas of the test that the 8th graders failed. The principal then informed the 7th and 8th grade teachers to address all of the weak or failed areas the next year as the #1 priority. The principal reassigned teachers to their strongest subject. The 6th grade teacher was the school's best math teacher. She now taught 6th, 7th and 8th grade math. All teachers were ordered to teach the standards and the principal made this his number one school priority for the next school year. With hard work and concentrating on the 8th grade standards and benchmarks, in the following year, more than 80% of the 8th grade passed the entrance test to the high school.
All these standardized tests our children are taking are almost what we call high stakes tests. We say this because reporting and then improving our standardized tests scores are tied to funding. Not getting funding makes these tests very important.
For reader education, high-stakes tests are not really set up for improvement. They are set up to screen or filter the test-takers. They are sometimes pass or fail and sometimes a score will rank the test-taker against the others taking the same test. For example, an employment test as for government jobs given to 1000 applicants may only consider the top 10 in rank order of scores. Certainly, the NSTT is high-stakes as passing means a teacher license or certification. A 'no pass' means no certification and therefore no teaching position. If you finish and wish to teach in Guam or the U. S., teachers may run into teacher tests called the Praxis. The NSTT is similar in nature to the Praxis. The College of Micronesia Entrance Test (COMET) is high-stakes. Pass and you are in college. A 'no pass' means you will not be a college student until you can pass the COMET. Passing a General Equivalency Development Test (GED) means you are judged to be the same as a high school graduate and can enter COM-FSM (if you pass the COMET). Another high-stakes test for many Micronesians is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). To be accepted into the U. S. military requires the high school diploma or a GED and passing the ASVAB in order to enter the U. S. armed forces. And, to be sure, these high stakes tests are in the English language. So English proficiency is the real basis for success in these win-lose situations.
And very finally and with the highest respect to our vernacular languages, English is the key. Get evidence that the students are reading, writing, listening and speaking at the standard level of their grade in English and we are well on the way to improvement in all the school subjects.

Education Corner 4

by Richard Womack, Ed.D - 28 SEP 2015

Last KPress edition Education Corner suggested that when visiting the Pohnpei airport it would be worthwhile to take some time to look at pictures of our fallen veterans and think about their sacrifices. This was a homework exercise for Veterans Day November 11th. It is also a good exercise for a field trip for any school and any grade. However, all of you can see that a visit to the Wall of Honor is a different kind of learning. It's about learning about and even feeling pride. It's about having respect for our FSM Veterans and respect and pride for being an FSM Citizen. Should a teacher be teaching about respect and pride? We think most of us would answer "yes". We say it should be part of the school's curriculum. What does this mean?
This is easy. Teachers teach curriculum and they teach curriculum based on standards and benchmarks. In general, the curriculum is everything we teach. The "curriculum" is the formal subjects such as arithmetic/mathematics, the social studies (geography, history and even economics), the sciences (life sciences and physical sciences) and the all important language arts (reading, writing, listening and speaking). We usually call the school subjects, the "formal curriculum" as it is written down in the form of curriculum standards and approved by some education authority. In the FSM, it is the National Department of Education (NDOE) and in Pohnpei it is the the State Department of Education (PDOE) who approves the curriculum standards we use in our schools. The formal curriculum must be the guide for all teaching and learning in our schools.
However, curriculum also includes such matters as teaching and learning good citizenship; teaching and learning how to be good members of the traditional community; teaching and learning how to be healthy in Pohnpei and other topics not part of the formal curriculum. So teaching students to care for their books, keeping their educational environment (classroom and school grounds) clean, and being respectful to others are daily duties of a teacher. In one of the worst health environments on Earth teachers are especially obliged to try and change very unhealthy lifestyles habits we have adopted nowadays. This sort of teaching and learning can be called the informal curriculum and is an important part of teaching. But this informal curriculum is where the parents, the family and the community are far more important than the teachers. Here is an example.
Little Willie spends the year answering questions such as as: Choose the healthiest food a) Karat, b) Donut, c) Rice, d) Soda, or e) Bowl Ramen. Willie usually gets above 90% on these sorts of questions. Likewise Little Willie can memorize lists and reproduce them as lists of junk foods; local/healthy foods; vitamins and minerals; carbohydrates and fats and on and on. Little Willies does this memorizing and listing very well and again gets above 90%. So when Little Willies receives an A on his report card his parents are very proud. But what if Little Willie has a donut, some rice, a bowl of ramen and a grape soda every day for breakfast? Good habits must be taught and practiced in the home, with family and in the community and reinforced in the schools.
It is so gratifying to see real changes. The work done by our friends at the Island Food Community of Pohnpei first in Mand and then all around Pohnpei can be seen. The terrific research by the late Dr. Lois Englberger on the health values of local foods is recognized world-wide. But when we began to see church groups, community groups, schools and government offices say— "Let's have some bananas instead of donuts; some water instead of soda— local rather than imported"—we began making some progress with attitude change. You can see that Little Willie's A in health is not too important until his knowledge is reinforced and carried out at home and in his community. Good grades at school mean nothing without community support.
All of us expect teachers teaching and students to be learning good habits, attitudes, beliefs and values in our schools. Here we usually add Pohnpeian/ Micronesian to each of these. At the most recent Micronesian Teacher Education Conference a traditional leader brought up Pohnpeian values. For fifteen (15) minutes teachers, administrators, and community participants added to the importance of values. With all heads nodding there was no doubt everyone there wanted Pohnpeian values in the school curriculum. Readers are probably nodding too. That is fine but do be prepared for homework in the future when you are asked to define Pohnpeian values. There is very difficult homework ahead about making decision in a changing cultural environment. Remember we cannot stop change, we can only learn to manage it. It is our children who will be making decisions. These will be wise decisions—if we guide them today.

Education Corner 6 - Questions at Graduation: An Almost True Story

09 NOV 2015

Quite a few years ago, an 8th grade graduation was held at a middle-sized Micronesian elementary school with two 8th grade classrooms and 60 graduating students. As is always the case at these graduations, the students were running here and there; boys in white shirts and black pants and girls in new white dresses. A few of the girls had been to the beauty shop in town but all of them had their beautiful hair all pretty and nicely done. The boys looked clean and handsome but, as is usually the case, a few shirt tails were hanging out. And while the boys were handsome, many did not look comfortable— all dressed up.
Families filled the school parking lot with their cars and it seemed everyone had mwarmwars, both store bought and handmade. The flowers were for the graduates and for parents and, of course, anyone who enjoyed the dressing up for a graduation. With 60 graduates, at least 120 chairs were reserved for mothers and fathers, or grandmothers and grandfathers, or aunties and uncles, or whoever the primary care-givers might be. The rest of the school was filled with brothers and sisters and the many cousins who happened to come that day. The mood was festive, but it was hot and people did mention that they hoped the speeches would not be too long. A big man already perspiring noted that the graduation the year before was almost two-and-a-half hours long. A woman beside him said she hoped it was shorter this year, and the few that overheard the comments all nodded in agreement.
Then some 7th grade boys and 7th grade girls acting as ushers and usherettes began to pass out the graduation programs. All the graduates were listed on these nicely printed papers along with a few honored guests and speakers. There was a Roman Catholic Deacon giving the opening prayer and a Protestant Pastor giving a Benediction. The school after all had both Catholic and Protestant families and both branches of the Christian religion were always welcome and the clergy always made themselves available. The main focus of the written program was naturally the graduates. As usual, they were listed alphabetically with a Susaly Amberdink at the top and Wheezly Zitterly at the end. Everyone searched the program for family and then friends for recognizable names. There was Limper Ramon listed as the Valedictorian and Pepperset Saboda listed as giving some welcoming remarks. All four of these eight graders Susaly, Wheezly, Limper. And Pepperset had asterisks placed next to their names. Anyone reading the program could see that many graduates had the "*" placed next to their names. And if one were to count, 40 out of the 60 students had the "*" next to their names. Even the 5th graders knew what to do when they saw the "*". It meant that they should look at the bottom of the page or the end of the program. There you would find the "*" and the explanation or meaning of the "*". In this particular program the "*" said, "Principal's Honor Roll 3.0 Grade Point Average (B) or above".
As the crowd grew restless for the graduates to begin their marching and the ceremony to begin, some parents began to remark about the size of the honor roll list.
"Look how many students made the honor roll this year," said Mrs. Ramon the proud mother of the Valedictorian.
"Indeed," said Mr. Saboda. "The teachers must be doing a good job this year. I remember only a few years ago, only 15 or so students made the honor roll."
"Well, perhaps," said Wheezly Zitterly's mother. "I am so very happy that Wheezly is on the honor roll, but I am equally disappointed that he did not pass the National Standards Test so he can go to high school. I don't know what to do with Wheezly. He is 14 years old and he cannot go to high school and is too young to get a paying job. Even clerks at the local stores must have a high school diploma. I guess he can feed the pigs and help on the land."
"What do you say Mrs. Zitterly?" whispered Mr. Amberdink. "Did you say that your boy did not pass the NST but is on the B-honor-roll? I was sitting here so embarrassed seeing my daughter Susaly's name on the honor roll and knowing she did not pass the NST. She was so happy. 'Daddy! Mommy' she exclaimed. 'I made the Principal's honor roll. Aren't you proud of me?' And both her mother and I were happy. Therefore I did not say anything to her because she was so happy about her B average and all."
"Exactly right, Mr. Amberdink," said Mrs. Zitterly. "I did not want to make my poor Wheezly feel bad. He struggles in school sometimes and when he yelled 'honor-roll, honor-roll' I did not want him to feel bad. I did not want to bring up the obvious question."
"I know it is too late now but we must ask. We must!" continued Mr. Amberdink. "how can our children be on the Principal's B honor roll and not pass the High School entrance test—the NST?"
This story was made for EC so we could continue to discuss with the public this whole idea of evidence and assessing our students in all the standards and benchmarks. Sometimes it is with grades and sometimes with standardized test scores.
Is our story true? No! Could the story be true? Absolutely! Can students bring home good grades and not do well on the National Standards Tests and other standardized tests for evidence of learning? Sure!
In our next EC we will discuss all the ways the story could be true and where the responsibility lies for improving. Remember all of these student scores should and will be used for improvement. This is the major purpose of assessment and this EC column.

Education Corner 3

by Richard Womack, Ed.D - 14 SEP 2015
TO: Community
FR: Education Corner
RE: Homework for Holidays
Last month Education Corner spoke about student and teacher attendance. The homework was mostly to observe your community and see if children are going to school on time. If they are not in school and on time they cannot learn. Likewise there was a little homework to begin watching teacher attendance. For sure our children cannot learn if teachers are not present to teach them. Also EC hopes teachers are putting the students first and don't spend a whole school day at a promised brother's third cousin's father-in-laws promised brother's funeral.
But today EC comments on holidays and those are the wonderful days when students, teachers and the principal do not have to attend school. Of course all public service employees love a holiday. It means "no work". Most of us never think about why the day is so important. After all, it is a paid holiday and tax payers are paying teachers not to go to work. The day must be important if we're being paid not to work.
Twenty five or so years ago I asked a group of college students, "What is the purpose of Pohnpei Liberation Day?" The answer was an overwhelming, "So we can play games". I would never have expected American students to say that Americans celebrate the 4th of July, "So we can shoot off fireworks and have parades". At once I recalled an old Professor's advice: "Never let the student have a day off without a lesson as to why. Every holiday deserves a social studies lesson." He said something about cause and effect in the social sciences.
Anyway, last Friday 9/11 was a holiday- Pohnpei Liberation Day. EC hopes the lessons were more about the present than the past. Yes it marked our end to World War II and Japanese Colonial occupation. At the same time it liberated us to run our own lives and have a democratic government. . Of course we cannot rewrite history and we are all friends today. Colonial times were harsh times for those being occupied and for some very harsh. But Liberation Day Micronesians were freed from Colonialism, a policy practiced by many powerful countries such as Spain and Germany here in the FSM. Our 9/11 means we were liberated to go toward something not just from something.
Today most of the world and the United Nations disapprove of strong nations taking over weaker places like our islands and using them for their own advantage. Colonial times were harsh times for those occupied and for sure education was not the same. While the Japanese did begin the first "Public Education" that education was for only three years and was designed to make Micronesians loyal parts of the Japanese Empire. It was never in the interest of Colonial Powers to provide too much education for the people—after all people might find out about being free and running their own lives. A little education was fine but just enough for the masses to communicate and understand who were in charge of their lives. Today countries such as the United States, China and Japan which were all enemies at one time join together to help the FSM to move toward a free and better life for the citizens. All of the countries now say "the more education the better". These former enemies are now our friends and big donors to FSM education. EC hopes the Liberation Day lessons were about being liberated to go TO something rather than liberated FROM something. Enough about Liberation Day! It was last Friday anyway.
Before Veterans Day (11/11) think about your family members who joined a branch of the U S Armed forces. EC is sure most of them have benefitted from their service and we can be thankful for those family members. But get some "extra credit" by visiting the "Honor wall" at the Pohnpei Airport where you can see the pictures of the young FSM men and FSM women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the United States. They sacrificed their lives and brought honor to their family, their village, their State and to their new nation. Take your children and point out these heroes. Have a short prayer or a moment of silent honor. When we pay tribute to our fallen heroes we are reminded that no price can be put on human life.
Today it is difficult for us to take the criticisms when our citizens migrate to Guam and Hawaii. We see figures of millions of dollars for health care, education, public safety and welfare at a cost to U S taxpayers. Indeed these are partially offset by many of our hardworking FSM citizens—paying taxes and contributing to their communities. But our migration and associated cost are real. When you look and think about our heroes remember there is no price for human life. These young men and women have paid something for all of us. Tell your children we accept help—but we have given much. We can all be proud for and with our Veterans on Veterans Day.