2007-08-25 / Editorials & Letters

Guest Column: Preparing our children

By Susan Tave Zelman, Superintendent of Public Instruction

Today's global marketplace demands that our students have the skills and knowledge they need to both compete and collaborate in the 21st century.

Not only do Ohio students need a strong foundation in core academic areas, they need exposure to finearts and foreign languages, as well as the ability to navigate across continents and understand world cultures.

Our children need to solve problems, think critically, create, invent and innovate in a world we have not yet imagined.

Each day, Ohio teachers are preparing students to live and learn in the 21st century. Although we can't directly measure the impact education will have on their lives, results from the recently released state and local report cards show some positive trends.

I want to personally thank all educators and families, who each day rise to the challenge of supporting and providing a quality education for the children of Ohio.

This year, we introduced new science and social studies tests in the fifth and eighth grades, and the results show we need to examine the quality of the curriculum in elementary and middle grades.

Despite this obstacle, student achievement continues to improve. When we compare this year's results on the same tests administered in 2005-2006, the average of all students' tests scores went from 92.9 to 93.5 in 2006-2007.

Eighty percent of districts are rated Excellent or Effective in Ohio, and this is the second year in a row no district has been rated in Academic Emergency.

Students are performing well on the Ohio Graduation Tests. Scores for the Class of 2007- the first class required to master these new 10th-grade expectations to graduate - show that 90 percent of the class passed all fivetests by March of their senior year.

While we have much to celebrate, we have some tough challenges ahead. Achievement gaps between groups of students are narrowing, but they remain unacceptably large. This is especially true for students with disabilities, those from low-income families and students of color. More attention must be paid to these groups of students in all schools.

Let's continue to work together to make sure all Ohio students are prepared for the 21st century. It will take the networking of community leaders, the resources of businesses and industry, and the commitment of public leaders to deliver a world class education system. Together, we can guarantee great futures for our children.

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