Perturabo -> RE: Leaving the Rez! (5/28/2011 11:23:47 AM)
Speaking of testing issues and school reform, give this a gander:
Panel Finds Few Gains from Testing Movement
Not that this blue ribbon panel has discovered anything that every teacher in America doesn't already know.
Depressing how we can commit educational suicide, isn't it?
BTW... we just got our AIMS test scores back for our District and scores DROPPED this year by about 50% after all the mandates and forced lesson planning and two weeks of pre-test "Boot camp" and extensive computer test practice (Study Island) for at least 20% of all class time.... so much for the brilliant educational theories and reforms being forced down our throats. If they keep it up, I'm not going to be surprised if scores drop even more next year. Especially considering how many teachers are quitting. I personally don't feel like I was able to effectively teach this year under the new regime. The test prep alone pretty much blew away the whole 4th quarter for any meaningful educational efforts. We spent four full weeks on various tests (AIMS or NWEA) plus all the prep time plus the many, many "mini-assessments" in Study Island that had to be given and reported on every week to District.
I'll be interested in the administration's response to these results. Probably that it's all the teacher's fault and the next batch of "raw meat" for the grinder will be better (this has gone on for over ten years of staff turnover). Have I mentioned that 20 new teachers came in with me four years ago and I'm the very last survivor of that group? That's depressing as well.
Wow. It sounds like an extremely toxic environment to work in. I have never imagined that school may be even more miserable experience for teachers than it's for students.
I don't think any tests can eliminate bad teachers, as usually bad teachers are simply abusive, neglecting or horribly boring (like in just talking about the subject for the whole lesson without any pause, change of tone, etc.). There is very few such teachers but somehow I've never seen them getting kicked out for their incompetence.
If you read the linked article and the comments associated with it, you will see that poverty has a huge correlation to test results. We have 99.4% of our students on the free lunch program because they are at or below the poverty line. That fact, however, is officially deemed "irrelevant" and is just a "poor excuse" for "bad teaching". Widespread gang activity and drug abuse around here is also deemed "irrelevant" to our poor results on the tests. Sadly, this isn't just Pinon, this is happening all over our nation. We need to consider social issues when trying to fix our educational system, but we don't...just blame the teachers for everything.
The problem is that their plan to fix the social issues is probably to educate people so that they could get better/any jobs. If poverty and decay of society creates conditions where it's exceedingly hard to bring up kids to be good students and it's exceedingly hard for kids to learn, then their plan can't work as it's a vicious circle, so they probably conveniently ignore any information that suggests that it's impossible to make these kids learn just by being a good teacher because it could turn out that they are completely helpless or have to implement some gigantic welfare programs. And now they can just say, "Look, we're trying to give these kids a fishing rods but these horrible teachers don't teach them right."
Unfortunately I see a lot of bureaucratic micromanagement requirements creeping into most all facets of our lives, not just education. Nowadays there are ISO standards, training and certification requirements, performance metrics of all sorts, assessments and evaluations, etc. etc. Sometimes I question if we should have so many experienced and talented folks providing oversight and "help", rather than providing the resources down where the "rubber meets the road" and getting things done. And I speak from having been on both sides, as licensee and regulator. We keep raising the bar with all these oppressive requirements to the point where nobody can seriously grasp the whole thing. It's like the damn tax code; who can possibly understand it all??
Regulation and standardisation has two sides.
For example, I don't understand how it's possible that people in different schools or even different classes in the same school can learn different things just because there's a different teacher.
It creates a lot of problems with inter-changeability.
As a student, I think I should be able to grab info from any textbook or any school website on specific subject and be able to pass exams/get good grades in my school and obtain useful knowledge.
Similarly, I should be able to quit my school (for example because I can't afford it any more) and go to another school that has the same subject and be able to smoothly transit.
But no. To learn anything useful for that specific school one has to have special notes from the special classes done by that specific teacher because everyone has to teach and demand something different. Or be unable to transfer to another school because it turns out that they had to do subjects in different order.
And the textbooks...
I wonder who writes the, because I'm pretty certain that they aren't written by teachers. Stuff that is perfectly explained on 2 pages of school notes will usually take up 20 pages of study-book which will usually fail at clearly explaining stuff. It's ridiculous.
I have much absences due to poor health and I usually have trouble with finding good learning materials because of lack of standardisation and because of ridiculously poor quality of textbooks.
Why not have public domain books that could be downloaded and printed by anyone that would have clarity and brevity of lesson notes?
Then there are different levels of requirements, again depending on specific teachers. So, a student with the same knowledge will pass with one teacher and fail with another.
So, the schools create incompetent graduates or have unreasonable requirements depending on a teacher, either way it wastes time and money of students, parents and employers and makes scores and degrees meaningless.