Mid-Term Exams: "It's About Effort"
Dear S.H.S. Parent/Guardian & Student,
International exam performance is well, and, often publicized in the popular press. Sometimes it feels like a steady drumbeat: math scores, reading scores, writing scores, science scores; Singapore, S. Korea, Japan, Finland, Shanghai, etc.. You know how it sounds. It has a common, repetitive rhythm---'they' are doing better than 'us'.
Now, you do have to discount for how these international reports are constructed. They can 'cook' and skew the data; but, let's put that aside. Discussion on how 'we' as a country are doing also usually turns quickly to socio-economic factors holding American students back. Poverty, the mother's level of education, community support for schools are all real, valid, and research-based variables that can hold American students back; but, let's put those variables aside too. Do schools, principals, and teachers make mistakes that can contribute to holding American students back? Yes, these mistakes happen, even here at Stowe High School despite our best efforts. Nonetheless, even with all these variables taken into account, we still have to put them aside. Something else is at work in other nations.
Why talk about these international exams, though, in the context of Stowe High School's annual mid-term exams? Relevance for we who are students, parents, and educators in Stowe, VT, U.S.A. is the same as for every other student, parent, and educator in the nation. It has to do with what is at the very core of the issue: effort.
When you unpack the international exam reports. When you read the fine detail of time-on-task, study schedules, and, expectations of parents for their students in other countries what emerges from the reports is a direct, clear, correlation between effort and performance. While on the surface this does not seem like it should be a startling revelation---I think we all understand and assume this correlation, the fact remains, students in countries that report high performance results on exams score high because they make the effort ... a greater effort than do students in the United States, even among many high-performing U.S. students.
Next week from Tuesday through Friday, Stowe High School will administer mid-term exams. There is no school on Monday. No extra-curricular activities are scheduled any night before an exam. Two exams are scheduled each day. Students only need to be here when taking an exam, though quiet areas are available should a student wish to stay through the day. The schedule is in the daily announcements on our website. Teachers have spent this week preparing students to take these exams.
Please join me and our teachers in supporting our students to set aside the next three days as study days. Social life should be put on hold; exercise as a break is encouraged. Good nutrition and sleep are important.
EFFORT, and only effort, however, will lead to success, for your student, and, for our country. Thank you. Good luck---and work hard. I have confidence each student can meet the challenge.