Over on the local front, two school district employees visited a Web page written by Great Schools dot net (not dot com as they reported) long enough to cut and paste five bullet points into the body of a news release they complied about next month's FCAT test schedule at local schools.
DeSoto County residents' tax dollars are paying the salary of two grown-up, professional women to visit the Internet and copy generic, pre-fabricated test advice for local reproduction. It wouldn't cost the district a single penny more to have the same educators write a piece with a local flavor, with advice, perhaps, from a school counselor or principal.
A sample of the cut-and-paste advice: "Keep your cool. While tests have increasing importance, they are just one measure of student learning, so try to keep the process in perspective. If you remain calm, chances are your child will probably feel calmer, too."
Old Word Wolf is envisioning two educators deciding parental hysteria needs addressing. If it does, this seems like a strange way to do it. Ladies, you've got a good thing going in the lazy-news department; sorry to rain on your parade.
If there's any hysteria, it should be at DeSoto High School, where the state awarded low marks for its ability to teach the children. The institution earned a D last year from the state for student achievement on the FCAT. Only 28 percent of 10th graders read well enough to meet the test's high standard; 27 percent grasped basic science concepts well enough to meet the test's high standard. Slightly better achievement in math (59 percent), writing (66 percent), and improvement for those re-taking the reading part of the test (46 perecent) fell below state-wide averages.
Readers would like to know what DeSoto High is doing to improve these dismal grades. And that doesn't mean puff pieces about rolling up construction paper to make fake binoculars in order to "focus on FCAT." Unfortunately, there's no reporter around to do the job.