Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Education better flipped to local control

link Jerry Harmon

Guest columnist

Flipping classrooms is a hot topic in education.

Flipping the classrooms means that a teacher flips the lesson plan backward.

Students view the material in advance of class through different sources including free online materials, a text, or lecture notes. Then in class they perform the homework. There the teacher has the opportunity to discuss the content or practice the skills with the students.

Supportive teachers claim this strategy is superior to the same old classroom routines of lecture and then “drill and kill” with homework.

This also relieves family or friends from being substitute teachers with homework.

The teacher is also assured that all work is the students’ own product and the playing field is more level for exceptional or English-limited students. Thus, assessments and grades are more scientifically trustworthy in assessing achievement.

New Mexico leaders may also consider flipping the state mandated tests, school grading, and the third grade retention legislation to local control.

State education leaders tell us that local control of education is the key to improved student learning.

I may be confused but state mandated tests, school grading, and third-grade retention are not local control.

While we need to use the common core standards and know how students perform, evaluating the effectiveness of individual teachers and schools from these tests lacks not only scientific validity or reliability, but common sense.

The proponents of high-stakes tests are the same advocates that sold desperate legislators on the fabricated goal in No Child Left Behind that all students in public schools will reach grade level reading by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

Those preparing teachers in New Mexico should also consider flipping their curriculum priorities.

In recent semesters, graduate education students, who are also employed as teachers, spoke robustly on high stakes standardized tests and school grading. They researched current literature, references provided by the Public Education Department, reflected upon their classrooms and schools, and recited by a 3:1 ratio that standardized tests miss the mark with children who are exceptional, limited in English, or underprepared for grade level content and skills; the very children who need additional or different services.

Unfortunately, the same teachers overwhelmingly stated that they are not well prepared to construct valid and reliable teacher tests as the alternative.

Typically, teacher preparation is criticized for the lack of preparation in lesson planning, classroom management, and assessment. According to these teachers the priority needs to be flipped to assessment first, followed by management, and then planning. In the science of education this is called backward mapping the curriculum.

By flipping to more science-based decision making in education, we may move forward with more objectivity and educator inspiration … at the local level.

Jerry Harmon is a professor of education at ENMU. Contact him at:

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