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April 12, 2002
Section: Local News

Crowd of 300 offers input on improving education
Repository education writer

CANTON � State Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman and Canton Superintendent Dianne Talarico say they�re listening.
The two school leaders said they�ll take seriously suggestions made by some 300 parents, teachers and community residents who gathered Thursday night at McKinley High School to discuss their concerns about education.

Among those suggestions:

� Evaluate students by more than just the single measure of achievement tests.

� Provide a parents� guide to explain the state�s new academic content standards � or �what students need to know and be able to do.�

� Boost teacher quality by offering better compensation, mentorship programs and more staff development.

�I promise you, your suggestions will be taken seriously,� said Zelman, who has conducted more than two dozen similar community meetings throughout the state. She will forward a report on the forum to the state Legislature and the state Board of Education.

Talarico said she will incorporate some of the wide-ranging recommendations in the Canton City Schools.

�It�s now your opportunity to hold me accountable again,� she said.

Residents separated into small groups to discuss their concerns and suggestions about five areas: academic content standards, accountability, assessment, literacy and teacher quality.

Some topics drew strong discussion.

�We just keep talking testing and testing and testing and testing,� said Jim Cordray of Bedford Ave. NW, a father of three, in a session on assessment. �Teachers are the ones who know if students are meeting standards.�

Bill Glenn of northeast Canton, a father of two school, said students should be evaluated on a broad portfolio including �hands-on testing, written tests, a variety.�

Groups also recommended assessing students on such factors as attitude, motivation and multiple intelligences.

Among other recommendations:

� Simplify the state�s report cards for local school districts, seen as confusing and almost overwhelming to parents. Suggestions: prepare a �mini� version, or make the documents available at schools and libraries while eliminating mass mailings.

� Make sure achievement test questions are developmentally appropriate for their grade levels, and ask student input when developing tests.

� Evaluate school buildings and districts on additional measures such as parent satisfaction.

Zelman also said teachers must be more �valued and honored,� and that the achievement gap between white and minority students can be lowered with the expectation that all students can learn.

She said the state will help develop materials to assist parents.

�Clearly, you see parents as the key to student success,� she said.

You can reach Repository education writer Susan R. Schell at (330) 580-8339 or e-mail:

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