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While the Cohort programs with two universities are graduating many teachers with higher degrees in education, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga says student performance “has not risen proportionately” and cohorts should focus more on teaching content.


The governor's comments were made on Tuesday, the final day of the two-day Governors Education Symposium co-hosted in Chicago by the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy and the National Governors Association.


Tuesday’s sessions “raised some valuable insights about the status of our own educational system,” says a media statement from Lolo’s staff attending the symposium.


“Foremost is the need to train the teachers so they become effective agents of change with regard to improving student performance. This factor brought to bear the need for assessments, not only to accurately measure student performance, but also teacher effectiveness.”


When assessments are under the microscope, the credibility and integrity of statistics collected, along with the methods used to ascertain these statistics become an important issue to consider, according to the statement, which also says that it is universally acknowledged that if teachers are not effective, student performance will likewise suffer.


Lolo expressed concern over the fact that although the University of Hawaii and the San Diego State University Cohort programs graduated over 500 Masters and Bachelors degree holders — yet student performances have not risen proportionately, it says.


Lolo “fears that teachers are not been taught in content areas, which will make a difference in student performance.”


“Obtaining a Masters or a Bachelors degree does not guarantee an effective teacher,” he pointed out. “It is critical for American Samoa... that these Cohort programs re-adjust their vision to focus more on teaching content instead of the current general focus.”


What was brought home during the presentations and discussions is the absolute need to invest more resources in Early Childhood Education, including the placement of the most effective human capital at that level, the statement noted. The foundation must be set at the early age and it is too late to wait until the child is in High School to receive full indoctrination.


Given the limitation on financial resources, the suggestion was made to reallocate existing financial resources to areas where the most good will be accomplished, measured by the improvement in student performance, the media statement pointed out.


“It appears that the most effective reallocation formula is 70:30 where 70% of the financial resources are spent to directly impact instruction received by the children and only 30% of the resources should go to cover administrative costs,” it says.


The governor is concerned that this is not the case in American Samoa — where more resources are spent for administration than impacting student learning in the classroom.


While the majority of the states are adopting common core standards, including American Samoa, Education director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau admits that “a lot of preparatory work must be done before we can effectively implement the common core standards, one of which is to effectively prepare the teacher core to teach in alignment with the common core state standards,” the statement notes.


(See yesterday’s edition on details from Monday’s symposium sessions.)


Meanwhile, the governor’s staff says Lolo is returning to the territory June 17, following other meetings in the U.S. Additional details of those meetings are expected to be released at a later time.