You Knew it Was Coming

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.

About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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16 Responses to You Knew it Was Coming

  1. ncjenn2nd says:

    Wow, you really hit it right on the nose.  The district I work for has become a huge joke.  We have to daily write our objectives on the board (as if second graders know what they mean) and students must know what they are doing in class – at any given time – and why they are doing it.  We have teams of people who come in to check that we are actually doing these things.  Plus, this year my school classifies as NCReads, Reading First and Title 1.  Can we just choose one thing and do our darndest to fulfill those needs, and then move onto another?  We as teachers are overtrained and then expected to perform just as you so perfectly mentioned above.  And you\’re right about the whole revolving door – we have one.  Our k-3 special needs room has several boys, no girls, and they are huge time takers, but very adorable.  They have had about 6 teachers this year, one of them a long term sub.  So tell me how much progress they are to make and how they are to be expected to test on grade level when they can\’t even get stability in the adults who are in charge of them? 
    I give you lots of credit and admiration for working as hard as you do with the students that you do.  They need you, as do the other students you reach in the process.  I am very thankful for people like you who truly enjoy their jobs in the schools and realize it is a blessing, not a job.

  2. Wondering Rahab says:

    Stopping by from Becca\’s space to say hello.  Thank you for giving me a window into a teacher\’s view of those tests.  You must be a very special person to do what you do.  Please remember that not all of the world sees you, or any other teacher as failing because of test scores.  Especially those of us who have family members who were or are special ed and know that sometimes a test means nothing.  Thank you for what you do.WR

  3. Stacy says:

    As a parent I have been saying for years how unfair these tests are.  To both the teachers and the students.  In our school this year, they took the whole 5th grade class and only taught reading and math for an entire 9 weeks so that the kids would do well on the tests.  Do my children deserve to have to READ ALL DAY LONG, so that the school can do well on the test and keep their funding?  No.  That is just cheating the system.  But perhaps from looking through your shoes, maybe that is what has to be done.  I do not know the solution to the issue.  I wish I did.  Why is it the same grade level every year?  Why not test all of the students and then compare their scores from one year to the next?  Wouldn\’t that tell better than testing different students every year?
    Sorry, didn\’t mean to rant, but this is one subject that really irritates me.  I think it was Malothian Man that had a similar rant not to long ago about this very subject.

  4. Unknown says:

    Just stopping by – hope you have a great day!God bless 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    What scares me is the red tape that binds teachers into NOT being able to do their jobs… and as a result losing teachers who are good at what they do.  There has to be a better way.

  6. g says:

    I know EXACTLY what you mean!!

  7. Nora says:

    Amen sister!

  8. Aimee says:

    wow…that is just unreal…i think almost insane…that your job depends on if you did better with the kids this year than last…
    :o) smiles are free and contagious…so pass one right now to the people you love and those you don\’t…soon everyone will be smiling… :o)
    3 days, 12 hours, i have been smoke free….52 cigarettes that i have not smoked….not to mention the $24.00 i have saved myself and 9 hours of my life….

  9. Sheryl-Ann says:

    There has been a lot on the tv about the taks this week.  Apparently, it is going to be banned here in TX because like you, the teachers here think it does more harm than good.  I think the Bill goes to the state Senate soon.  I have not heard anything positive about all this testing so maybe it is time for a different path.

  10. Becca says:

    All that I can say is AMEN! You are a wonderful teacher. Keep up the great work!

  11. barnyardmama says:

       As you may remember I worked in TX for several years where the tests are linked to whether or not students graduate.  It\’s the same way in Louisiana.  Each year you\’d have student who met all their graduation requirements, but couldn\’t graduate because they couldn\’t pass the test.  Those meetings were never pretty.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I\’m still in college, halfway to becoming a full-fledged teacher, and it\’s already easy to see the ways teachers and students are hurt by standardized tests. They have unfair ramifications, besides taking up tons of time- both in test prep and the testing themselves. Some schools take a full two weeks to test, and that\’s ridiculous! And test preparation in some cases can be good for students, but in other cases the test format is far from authentic assessment, and the kids would learn a lot more doing it another way. I know they have to test teachers and students somehow, and no system will be perfect, but I don\’t think I\’ve heard of one teacher liking No Child Left Behind, and to me… when a hugely influential law like this is passed, teachers- who understand both the basics of school administration, know the students better than anyone else, and know teaching like no one else could- should definitely be talked to first!Never mind the fact that teachers\’ accountability is rising, but pay isn\’t.I guess the only perk is that with low pay, high accountability, less freedom, and too many politics… you\’ll get less and less people who don\’t really love to teach that will be willing to do it. I hope, anyway.

  13. barnyardmama says:

    It makes me kind of sad that we\’ve just accepted testing as an inevitablility.  I went to private schools, and I\’m sure we took tests, but I have no memory of it–they just weren\’t important.  For now, however, they\’re here to stay.
    My district spends eight days on standardized tests–they\’re trying to get it down to fewer, but testing kids all day seems cruel and unusal, so we try not to test past noon.

  14. Bonnie says:

    I really appreciated your views on testing, as a mom I have continually struggled with the PAT\’s as we call them in Alberta (provincial Achievement tests).  We can (with alot of red tape) opt to have our children not tested, but these statistics (or lack of them) follow our children for the rest of their school days.  I think you are absolutely right about the fact that no one is standing on level ground, it seems these children and teachers are playing on an uneven field, and the teachers in some cases even have quite different objectives and rules for the game. I n my opinion, children should be reviewed based on effort and improvment taking their circumstances and their person as a whole, into consideration.  Teachers should be be paid based on their merrit, using a much more broad spectrum of evaluation than a set of test scores.  There are teachers we have come into contact with, who deserve great rewards for their caring and inspiring "meathods".  Also, there are teachers we have come accross who are obvioulsy there soleley for the paychecque.  The latter are the type who would see test scores as a means to an end, the end being measured with x amount of knowledge in said child\’s head.  The former teaches the child as a whole, enabling them to solve problems, feel confident, live in thier own skin, deal with the things life throws at them, and maybe learn some of x in the process.  Anyhow, my rant is now over.  Thanks for sharing and P.s, I also liked your fashion tidbits, I wish I had that kind of savy, do navy sweats and an old "nike" tshirt with bare toes count for anything, hmmm, I think i\’m wearing eau de\’ bakery since I just walked in from work. haha, cheers, and thanks again!

  15. WINDOW LIVE says:

    You hit the nail on the head sister.  It is ridiculous.  I cannot understand why on earth the bubba\’s in Washington cannot see that in areas of low income you have problems.  I wonder why?  Could it be lack of proper nutrition, the use of drugs and alcohol before, during and after conception of these children.  Could it be the dysfunction these children live in constantly.  If we as a country do not fix the social issues and back the teachers up, then scores will never get better in these areas.  My kids go to a school where I have encountered some of the worst teachers.  However, we live in an area where there are minimal social issues so the test scores are always high.  They have taken away the D grade.  This so thet the teachers can work extra days getting the kids to pass.  It is ridiculous. 

  16. Diane says:

    I am not a teacher, but I couldn\’t agree with you more.  It really irks me that the schools that are deemed "failing" are almost always in lower income neighborhoods.  The remedy for improving scores seems to be giving the school penalties.  Money is taken away, as well as valuable programs for the kids.  One such school in our town had a junior master gardening program in place.  Because test scores were low, this privilege was taken away from the kids.  I assume that this was done so that the teachers would have more time to teach to the test.  Why doesn\’t it make sense to the people at the top, that maybe what is needed is a little extra for these schools, not less.  Smart kids from middle class homes already have what they need to succeed.   Let\’s spend a little more on the kids who really need our help.  It will make the world a better place for everyone.

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