What She Wore: slate blue dress with cap sleeves and a collar; navy blue leather thongs with a kitten heel.
Today, my local paper had a comic in the editorial section. It showed a teacher at his desk and two students writing at their desks. On the board it says "Benchmarks Today", and the bubble coming out of the teacher’s head says, "the measure of my performance rests in the hands of eight-year-olds."
Every teacher in my building enjoyed this cartoon. We are in the middle of testing week, and the stress is getting to everyone.
For whatever reason I feel the need to use this site to help people realize just how flawed these tests can be. I don’t know if anyone cares, but I’ll just keep putting it out there. It doesn’t hurt me one way or another if the tests stay, but the idea of using these tests to measure teacher performance scares me. A lot.
First and foremeost, the idea of measuring teacher performance with test scores is a flawed idea. Research has shown that middle class kids do better than lower class kids, and that the more educated a kid’s parents, the more likely they are to do well on the test. I once read in a magazine that standardized tests are a good measure–a good measure of the size of a child’s house. This means that teachers who work in middle class schools will be viewed as successes, and teachers who work in low-income schools will be viewed as failures (Not to mention special education teachers–and don’t fool yourself, most special education students are tested with the same test as everyone else). People like me–who work with special education students in low-income schools–would be viewed as abject failures. Never mind that I love the kids to death, and spend a ton of time trying to figure out how to teach algebra and geometry to kids who are retarded or who have severe developmental delays.
Did I mention that we aren’t judged on whether or not we raise our student’s scores? We are actually judged on whether our group does better than last year’s group. We could raise the score of every kid we teach, but if last year’s seventh grade did better, then we failed.
And finally, imrovement doesn’t count as improvement unless our students cross the line into the "Proficient" category. Last year two of my special ed students tripled their scores. That does not matter to the state–they still weren’t proficient, so all that hard work means nada.
I’m not saying tests are all bad. I’m not saying that teachers should be held accountable. What I am saying is that if the current system becomes a way of measuring performance than only one thing will happen–low income and special education students will get a revolving door of teachers eager to get out as fast as they can. If financial rewards go to the teachers of regular ed, middle class students, then they are the ones who will benefit. It’s a new form of classism just waiting to happen.
It’s not someting I want to be a part of.