Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More insanity

Well, the newspaper had another article about the ridiculous idea to use student test scores to fire teachers. The school board is pretty much in favor of this. I'm not going to hide anything about this now because, as far as I'm concerned, this school district is making an absolute farce of test scores.

We are talking about Houston Independent School District. They have a new superintendent who believes this will help improve test scores. This thing will be voted on Thursday. It is part of something that is called the teacher's "value added score." They are "not out to get people" said the new superintendent. The trustees said they "do not intend to oust teachers based on one year of poor scores."

This is the same school district that will pay those teachers who have students who score well on the test. Now I know some of you were/are teachers. You know as well as I, not all classes are the same. Clustering of poor and good students happens. If you were lucky enough to get high achievers - well you would be getting a nice bonus. If not, well under this new policy, your neck is on the line. I am fully aware there are teachers who need to be weeded out. I taught with a bunch of them, but somehow they always escaped the hatchet. But that hatchet would swing far and wide, hitting some really good teachers instead of the chaff.

This little score is only for elementary and middle schools. High school teachers are not involved. If the score can be determined for elementary and middle, then why not high school. I have been in both situations. What is the difference? Am I the only stupid one here??

One trustee, Diana Davila, said the policy changes will help ensure quality teaching and schools throughout HISD. How?? The make-up of the schools is very different. The students are different. And based on Sunday's article, so are the administrators.

Ms Davila went on to say that "as a parent that has kids in HISD it shouldn't matter where I send my child to school. Every school should be at the same level." In a perfect world, absolutely. But obviously we are not in a perfect world. If all schools are at the same level, why does HISD have magnet schools?

Chasing these test scores has done more to disrupt teaching, learning, and teacher morale than anything in the last century here in Texas. There is more "teaching the test" going on than any other form of teaching. That happened when they tied the administrator's score to the test. I spend as much time teaching reading and math as I did teaching Life Science. I am curious how that works now that science is a tested area. That may explain why the science scores are low.

I promise I will get off my soap box. There is more to my life than this ridiculous situation that really does not have any effect on me at all. I don't live in that district. My grandchildren do not attend school in that district. I just have compassion for the classroom teacher. The teacher is expected to be everything to everybody. It just can't happen. Teachers are human - wonderful, dedicated humans. Who else would put up with all the s**t that is going on in schools today for the pittance they get paid?


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