Tri States Public Radio Staff
Fri December 16, 2011
Emphasis - December 16
Keokuk, IA – Jason Parrott's guest is Dr. Lora Wolff, who is the superintendent of the Keokuk School District.
They talk about a variety of educational topics, including Governor Terry Branstad's plan to reform Iowa's K-12 system.
The Governor's plan looks at leadership, high expectations, and innovations.
Wolff says, at its core, the plan is very good because the Governor's goal is to improve student achievement and to have the best teachers in the classroom.
She says many facets of the plan are already in play in Iowa's schools, though implementing more could come down to the funding made available by the Iowa Legislature.
A key aspect of the plan is to retain third-grade students who cannot read.
Wolff says while it is important to make sure a student can read at that point, she is hesitant to automatically retain a child because of the negative impact it can have on their future.
She says studies show these students are more likely to be bullied, to drop out of school or to end up in prison.
Wolff says it is more important to do a better job of identifying struggling students and to get the proper assistance to them.
Two more aspects of the plan are taking high-quality teachers out of the classroom to mentor other teachers and to require students to pass a proficiency test before receiving credit for a class.
Wolff says mentoring is important, but not if it is taking good teachers away from their students and forcing districts to have larger class sizes.
She says the end of year testing could also be a way for elite students to test out of a course and advance to a class with a higher degree of difficulty.
Wolff says the money from the legislature will depend how much will be done. In fact, she would support a one-year moratorium on all education-related legislation to allow district's to catch up with past changes.
You can hear more with Keokuk Superintendent Lora Wolff by clicking the audio link above.