A. What do you consider to be the major public education issues today? Address one in depth, outlining possible causes, effects and resolutions.
The most alarming public education issues today have to do with teacher certification in specific content area and, the increase in students reading at the below basic level. Educators must have the knowledge of a content area to help nurture students understanding in a curriculum. Each educator must also be knowledgeable of a rigorous curriculum where students are exposed to a variety of learning experiences. Students who are exposed to this array of learning experiences will develop basic learning skills in math, reading, writing, and a wealth of knowledge in colleges and career ready programs.
One of the possible causes of the issue is the utilization of non-certified teachers and fresh college graduate. Returning college graduates teaching a different content area other than their own major content area of studies will experience challenges in the classroom. Most without a teaching degree are facing challenges such as developing lesson plans, classroom management skills, and incompetency in content knowledge to name a few. The surfacing challenges cause these teachers to depend on traditional methods of teaching.
Furthermore, existing teaching programs in our territory need to develop content area emphasis for cohort to help teachers focus and be certified. This will provide the prospective teacher with a road map toward content area certification. The American Samoa School Improvement Plan tasks the Teacher Certification Committee to review, plan, and propose content-driven degree and certification programs that will meet the needs of our teachers and schools. This resolution will help teachers receive certification required in each content area while taking teaching courses for an education major.
The increase in student reading and writing below basic was reflected in the past SAT 10 scores and Standard Based Assessment (SBA). Seniors entering the American Samoa Community College are placed in English Language Institute class (ELI) to take basic reading and writing skills before enrolling in college required English courses. These issues signal to the public school system that we need to revisit our certification courses for content area to help our teachers teach students to be college and career ready.
The demand for teachers to be certified in their content area is a needed reform in our public school system. Teachers who are certified in their content area with a highly qualified and effective status in teaching will help reduce the increasing number of students reading and writing below basic. Teachers with content knowledge expertise will help prepare and develop students’ essential reading and writing skills through thematic unit plans and differentiated instructions that are rigorous and relevant to learning.
On the other hands, teachers with the content area knowledge will develop professional learning in their respective schools to help staff members enrich their specific content area knowledge and develop new and effective teaching methodologies. Content area certified teachers would help the growth of their schools and also the Department of Education during professional learning workshops. They will also develop and suggest curriculum that will be relevant to meet the learning styles of each learner. Teachers certified in their content area will promote the use of up-to-date teaching styles to accommodate the digital generation of learners in our society.
With certified teachers in our school system, our American Samoa Department of Education will gradually accommodate English language learners (ELL) and help build students’ reading and writing skills to decrease the number of students reading and writing below basic level. This will highlight our Department of Education’s effort to promote “quality education for students”.