Another school year down. One child completed kindergarten. One child completed third grade. A ptotracted negotiation with my school district over my third grader's GIEP. A hundred blog posts in the hopper. Innumerable education articles read. So what, if anything, did I learn this school year educationwise?
The concept of reading "comprehension" should be abandoned.
There do not seem to be any good instruments for testing reading comprehension that are valid, reliable, and objective and that actually measure how well the student is able to comprehend text.
There is insufficient content instruction in the late elementary grades. Many students are fluent decoders at this level. Too much time is wasted on learning reading strategies and reading simple fiction books instead of learning content knowledge which we know many low-SES students lack and is somewhat easy to teach.
There's a lot of fat in math curriculum from fourth grade until algebra begins (typically in eighth grade). Half the year is typically devoted to review.
Despite all this math review, many students fail to learn elementary math as demonstrated by standardized tests which by and large test nothing but elementary math.
Since when did being able to write a short essay about how you solved a math problem become the end game of elementary math. This seems to be testing the student's reading ability twice rather than the student's math ability. See Reading Comprehension, Not Knowing How to Teach above.
History, geography, science, and civics instruction continue to get short shrift.
Many schools practice education socialism in kindergarten by not formally teaching reading at least to the at-risk students in favor of not teaching anyone in the hope that the at-risk will mature and to slow down the capable.
Students are grouped instructionally for teacher convenience rather than student need. The at-risk and special education students are spread out so no teacher is over-burdened. Same deal with the more capable students.
Instructionally differentiation is largely a waste of time. The more capable students are given make-work and other sundry time-wasters too compensate for an instructional pace that is too slow for them. The less capable students get a watered down version of the curriculum. Is it any wonder why they never catch up?
School Districts don't always follow the regulations when the regulations conflict with how they want to run their school.
Education policy makers aren't too concerned with the nitty-gritty details (see above) that really determine the effectiveness of schools. There's a good argument that they are incapable of knowing the details needed to effectively regulate, so its more important for the incentives to be aligned at the school level so educators will run their schools most effectively themselves. Currently, those incentives are far from aligned.