Friday, June 25, 2010

Under Pressure

A friend sent me  a link from the New York Times concerning cheating with high stakes testing.  Across the country, teachers, administration, and students are pressured at becoming better and better at testing.  I'm not saying that students are being pressured into learning - no - that's not quite what it is.  It's test-taking skills.  How do we improve our students' test taking strategies?

One of my best friends teaches at a school that has has been named one of the worst schools in the state of Minnesota.  Teachers are being fired and the state is threatening coming into the school and taking over the curriculum because the students are not making A.Y.P.   (Annual Yearly Progress).  Can you imagine?  Thankfully, her job is in the clear.  Her students have been taking the standardized testing and have been "performing" well.  But, she and her colleagues wonder everyday what's going to happen?  Who will be fired next?

I have news that may not be so obvious to politicians.

Sometimes students don't care how well they do on tests.  Sometimes, they just fill in the bubbles.  Sometimes, it's because they are tired of the pressure.  Sometimes, it's payback for a teacher who has given them detention.  Sometimes, students have test-anxiety. Sometimes, students' parents fought the night before.  Some students might have been hit the night before.   A lot of students have witnessed things no one should witness. 

And, so I wonder?  These administrators who roll up the tests and take a peak at the answers, they only seem to be a symptom of a larger disease.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that when it comes to teachers and performance, an entire list of excuses fills the page. However, the reality is that it is their job to teach, and to demonstrate that this goal has been accomplished, you need to take a test. If the students are failing, then the teachers have not done their job. What is do hard to understand?

Everyday REAL people with REAL jobs face job loss, and we deal with it. Many people, especially in white color jobs, rely on teams of people to successfully carry out their job. In my profession, I lead very large projects that involve dozens of people across in many different roles. If the project succeeds, I succeed. If not, well guess what, in the REAL world this can lead to job loss.

And yet, every single person on the project is critical. If one or two do not do their jobs, we will ALL fail unless extra effort is taken to compensate for the situation. I cannot simply throw my hands up and say "Oh well, we failed, but you cannot hold me responsible because this person did not approve the budget in time, and this one did put forth enough effort, etc... It IS my responsibility to deliver the end result. End of story.

And, why should teachers be above accountability? Look, if they think it is the students fault for not learning, then get out of teaching or move to a new school where the students "want" to learn. Or better yet, find a new profession.

I am tired of teachers making excuses. You would think that every teacher was perfect if you listen to them. And yet, we all know teachers that were poorly equipped for the profession, or worse still, those who no longer cared. And what happens? They continue along drawing a paycheck, mean while the students suffer. And then when the results are demonstrated on test, the list of tired old excuses is wheeled out.

Give me a break.

Jason said...

Anonymous is obviously a statist politician, perhaps Barack or George, who is getting his pockets lined with money from the standardized testing companies.

Anonymous said...

LOL Jason, could not be further from the truth. It could not be clearer that you have no idea what it means to be a statist.

I would guess that you are an Obama fan, which would explain your similar style of debate. It did not go unnoticed that your response target the messenger, not the message. To make my point clearer, how about this.

Get government and unions out of our schools. Why is it that the private sector has only 7% union membership, and that is declining rapidly. And that is with all the union jobs at GM paid for by taxpayers and investors who were flat out ripped off. At the same time, 40% of public employees belong to a union, and that is growing. Unions breed mediocrity. Complacency. Inefficiency. Oh, the favorite of teachers, a sense of entitlement.

So, get the union and the government out of education. They admit that they are incapable of doing the job when the protest any kind of accountability.

Once that happened, two things would emerge very quickly. Kids would get a vastly superior education, and it would accomplished for a lot less money.

So, please enlighten me. Look up the word statist, and then reconcile my comments with the real meaning of the word. You will learn that you could not be more incorrect. It seems public schools did you a real disservice.

ME said...


I'm curious to know if you know exactly how schools are evaluated?

Anonymous said...

Let me ask a question in return. Do you know exactly how job performance is evaluated in real world jobs within the private sector?

To your question, yes I am familiar with the school evaluation process. I have researched the issue in depth, and I have many relatives/friends/acquaintances that are teachers and administrators, of whom I have discussed this issue in detail many times.

But, this is not the point. Your post said nothing about 'how'. Your original post complained that evaluations were being conducted at all, and implied that it was unfair. Especially since people were losing their job for poor performance. That demonstrates a real sense of entitlement, and a lack of maturity in how the world really works.

If someone is paying you, they have every right to evaluate your performance and to take action accordingly. Even if it is the taxpayer. Your right is to choose to work some where else, or in another profession. Nobody is entitled to a lifetime of pay without any check on their performance and/or merit.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. You would think as a libertarian that you would support the private sector over the public sector. In addition, the hallmark of libertarian is letting the marketplace drive the outcome, yet when I suggested that should be the case for public school teachers, you charge me as a statist. Can you explain that disconnect?

Standardized testing, how can that be a libertarian value? What I was saying focused solely on evaluating teacher performance, which is sorely needed. Ideally the government would get completely out of education, but until that point, testing and evaluation needs to be a part of education. And, spare me the ridiculous arguments about standardized testing being unfair. In the final analysis, education is about instilling a common understanding amongst ALL. Whether they are asian, or hispanic, or black, or etc...

I also think your idea that one needs to be a mathematician to understand basic percentages. If a person cannot understand percentages, well there are larger problems to tackle there. And why do I use statistics? Because they illustrate a very important point.

Union membership is overwhelming in the public sector.

Does that make it clearer?

You claim to be a libertarian but I have seen no evidence what so ever of that ideology in your postings. None.

Oh, and I do not have spare time. I am not a school teacher.

Anonymous said...

Nothing left to say here. Your arguments are defenseless, and judging by your last post, you know it too.

Have good one Jason.

Cindy D. said...

I'd like to respond to Anon. I do work in the education business even though I am not a teacher but an administrative assistant and parent. So I can honestly say I see both sides of the specter.
I disagree with you comparing teachers to every day real people per say. Real people do have people working under or with them on projects in the workplace. But those people are fired if they don't come through for the rest of the team. So you really can't compare students to other employees, right? You can't fire a student for doing a poor job.
On your side on another point, I believe every student has the potential to make good grades with the right teaching technique. I know alot of people don't agree with me. That some students really are smarter than others. How did they get smarter though? Did their parents help with educating their children at home? Did they always tell their child how smart they were? Is is the environment they live in that make some smarter than others? Who really knows the answers to these things. I myself, find that I am more comfortable being in situations where I feel smart because I know what I am doing than being thrown into something I know nothing about. For me it makes me feel stupid. And I'm not.
Enought rambling on my part. I just think you need to see the broader picture too. Teachers are spending a good amount of their time on discipline as well as teaching as quickly as they can things students need to know for testing. They don't have time to help the students that are having trouble because they need to make sure "most" of the students meet the state standards.