How should Georgia monitor CRCT testing?

While other states routinely search for patterns on exams to determine if there was cheating, Georgia has never performed routine checks on students’ tests, according to this story.

Things may change in the aftermath of the CRCT cheating scandal.

The executive director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement said the department will likely look at some test scores annually. Because of the large amount of data, she said staff will likely focus on one grade or one type of test.

Some testing experts say this may not be enough. They said it will hard to determine how much cheating goes on in Georgia without taking a broad look at test scores and security policies.

The focus on cheating comes after a state audit found four elementary schools had suspiciously large gains on last summer’s fifth-grade CRCT retest. (That audit was conducted following an AJC article questioning the jump in test scores.)

Two administrators from Atherton Elementary in DeKalb were arrested last week on charges of falsifying state documents.

What kind of annual audit should Georgia do on state tests to determine if cheating occurred? What changes should be made to improve test security?

51 comments Add your comment

ED

June 22nd, 2009
9:15 am

Cheating has been going on since the inception of testing. This is not unusual or should it be a surprise to anyone. Remember Clayton County hired a Superintendent that had lost her certification for two years with cheating or test irregularities.

Larry

June 22nd, 2009
9:23 am

When I was a child coming up testing was done in the cafeteria or gym by grade levels. The principal, teachers, state had one or two representatives present, and even the custodians were present to make sure cheating did not happen. The principal should have monitors in every class but they also know who they want to test what class without a monitor. Test in the hallway and use the school cameras to monitor testing.

Seen it all

June 22nd, 2009
10:03 am

Larry’s suggestions sound great. In addition, during the testing windows, no local school personnel should be allowed to handle the tests once students turn them in. They should have ouitside people at each school distribute and collect tests. And they should have monitors in every testing location.

Why you ask? Because people have been cheating. People have been lying. On a side note, you’ll notice that you never hear of this nonsense occuring in white, middle-class, surburban schools. This kind of nonsense is prevalent in mostly black and Hispanic schools. Is this because the teachers and administrators want to cover up for the fact that the children cannot read, write, or do basic math? If that’s the case, why don’t the teachers just teach and be done with it? Instead they have to come up with all sorts of contrived ways to cheat on the standardized tests.

Over the years I have heard SO MANY excuses as to why black and Hispanic children are so much inferior educationally and intellectually to white children. I heard about the behavior argument (children in “urban schools” are more poorly behaved than children in “suburban schools”), the motivation argument, the parental involvement argument, etc.

But here’s what I have seen in my professional experience. I have seen teachers, both new and experienced (with more than 5 years in the classroom) fail with students who were well behaved, relatively motivated, and with class sizes of 12-14 students. These same teachers had plenty of resources at their disposal. They had plenty of training (both inservicing and schooling of their own outside the system). These students were just as intelligent, if not more, than students in the suburban schools. The students spoke English, too. And they had supportive parents. LET POINT OUT AGAIN THAT THE TEACHERS HAD CLASS SIZES OF 12-14 STUDENTS.

So what was their excuse as to why their students were so unsuccessfully?

jim d

June 22nd, 2009
10:18 am

Larry,

Here’s the only way to stop cheating on tests—-stop giving them!!

catlady

June 22nd, 2009
10:34 am

Or cut back on testing to each gateway level. Give it in large-group settings, such as an auditorium with many proctors. Do it in one day. No excuses, no do-overs, the kids are retained who cannot achieve a decent score (and increase the scores from 32/70 to pass!), and the tests have to be written by another state’s test development area, given our performance standards. Or, better yet just go with the ITBS or some other nationally normed, extensively validated, and proven test. Set expectations that kids will score at least within a half a GE of their actual level. Retain those who don’t. Period. I really think you would see a vast improvement in scores over time, it would eliminate the p-ss poor Georgia tests and those who profit so handsomely from them, and it would tell us how our kids are doing relative to other kids in less backward states. You can’t tell me that correct subject-verb agreement is any different in Georgia than in New York. In common practice, the results “is” different, but as far as correct English, the results should be the same.

jim d

June 22nd, 2009
10:44 am

Larry,

You post bail yet?

Up for a little choir practice?

Seen it all

June 22nd, 2009
11:40 am

OK, boys and girls, time to turn in your tests. What was the answer the the previously posed question? Answer: The teachers either couldn’t or didn’t want to teach the students they were given. Yes. That is the answer.

These people fall into two categories: People who don’t know how to interact with and teach minority students and those who just don’t want to and don’t really care about their students. I have had teachers basically admit that they don’t know what to do to help their students achieve academic mastery in reading, writing, and math. To be honest, that’s understandable. Our colleges of education are designed to prepare teachers to teach in suburban schools made up of students from white, middle class homes. When teachers leave the schools of education, they are only prepared to teach/work with students who are white and middle class like themselves (remember- the majority of teachers are white females). They have no understanding of other cultures or how to interact with them. They don’t know what to do when they encounter students who have gaps in education, may be behind in reading, are SPED, or English Language Learners. They are prepared only to deal with “ready made” “successful” students. Almost anybody can teach those kinds of students. All you have to do is present the information/activities in a fairly reasonable manner and the student (with mom and dad’s help) will take it from there. But it takes a REAL teacher to be able to teach our REAL students in a REAL classroom.

Then the second group of teachers is made up of losers who just don’t care whether their students learn anything or not. Deep down, these teachers feel that their students are inferior to them and that educating them isn’t worth their time or effort. Since the school administrators feel the same way, the teachers are not held accountable for the nothingness that occurs in their classrooms. Teachers are allowed to fritter away the days showing videos, assigning mindless seatwork (to keep the students quiet and occupied), while they surf the web all day, sit on their bottoms behind their desk and watch the students or engage in personal activities (the most prevalent activity), or chit chat with other teachers in the hallway during class time. Afterwards they blame the students for their lack of and interest in learning

Maureen Downey had an interesting editoral in today’s AJC (http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/stories/2009/06/22/mdowneyed_0622_2DOT.html ).

She was quoted as saying:
I’m not sure why the CRCT provoke such dread or why so much intense drilling occurs in the final weeks. If teachers have been teaching the state curriculum and assessing their students throughout the year to ensure they’re getting it, the annual test should be a cinch.

My sentiments exactly. These teachers drill and kill precisely because they haven’t been teaching. These people have been goofing off all year. And then’s when it’s time for the test, they want to rush and cram just to get the students to pass the test, so the heat will be off. Others would rather do “CRCT prep” all year because it gives them the perfect excuse not to prepare and present interesting, dynamic, and effective lessons. These people don’t really want to teach anyway- despite all the protests and whinning about standardized testing ruining teacher creativity. They didn’t want to be creative teachers, which is why the students are failing in the first place. All the teachers and administrators of these schools care about is if the school “makes AYP”. This way the “heat is off” and they can continue to have business as usual (doing nothing and not having answer to anybody).

Our schools are disgusting. So many people get paid GOOD money for doing nothing. Nothing harming other people.

Turd Ferguson

June 22nd, 2009
12:36 pm

“Two administrators from Atherton Elementary in DeKalb”…

Every picture tells a story.

Im glad they were caught and hope they spend some time in jail. Since, however, this occured in dekalb county the citizens will do nothing except find fault in how the cheating was discovered which was probably some white male goin on a witchhunt.

Show us the money DOE

June 22nd, 2009
12:58 pm

According to the AJC, Sue Snow and Melissa Fincher, two officials is the Ga. DOE are dismayed that people are skeptical of the increase in CRCT scores. The want us to believe that it is a direct testimony to the increased knowledge of the students, and by extension, a de facto endorsement of all things Kathy Cox.

Well, if they really want people to believe it, why not release the cut scores? If Kathy Cox’s efforts are all they are cracked up to be, why not let John Q. Public see exactly how many questions Junior Q. Public had to get right to pass the mother of all educational benchmarks, the CRCT?

For DOE officials who love to talk so much about the data, you’d think they’d want to share.

As far as monitoring the tests, so that people really know; do you think they want people to really, really know if that knowing would cause DOE officials to look less effective?

Tman

June 22nd, 2009
1:10 pm

Exchange teachers for a day. Have designated teachers for each grade level go to the another school to observe the test taking. Place the kids in an auditorium or cafeteria to take the test and have the teacher from another school monitor the situation. After completing the test have that same teacher box them up and hand them to a courier whom will take them to the state for grading. That way the only added cost is the courier.

Seen it all

June 22nd, 2009
1:49 pm

OK, boys and girls, time to turn in your tests. What was the answer the the previously posed question? Answer: The teachers either couldn’t or didn’t want to teach the students they were given. Yes. That is the answer.

These people fall into two categories: People who don’t know how to interact with and teach minority students and those who just don’t want to and don’t really care about their students. I have had teachers basically admit that they don’t know what to do to help their students achieve academic mastery in reading, writing, and math. To be honest, that’s understandable. Our colleges of education are designed to prepare teachers to teach in suburban schools made up of students from white, middle class homes. When teachers leave the schools of education, they are only prepared to teach/work with students who are white and middle class like themselves (remember- the majority of teachers are white females). They have no understanding of other cultures or how to interact with them. They don’t know what to do when they encounter students who have gaps in education, may be behind in reading, are SPED, or English Language Learners. They are prepared only to deal with “ready made” “successful” students. Almost anybody can teach those kinds of students. All you have to do is present the information/activities in a fairly reasonable manner and the student (with mom and dad’s help) will take it from there. But it takes a REAL teacher to be able to teach our REAL students in a REAL classroom.

Then the second group of teachers is made up of losers who just don’t care whether their students learn anything or not. Deep down, these teachers feel that their students are inferior to them and that educating them isn’t worth their time or effort. Since the school administrators feel the same way, the teachers are not held accountable for the nothingness that occurs in their classrooms. Teachers are allowed to fritter away the days showing videos, assigning mindless seatwork (to keep the students quiet and occupied), while they surf the web all day, sit on their bottoms behind their desk and watch the students or engage in personal activities (the most prevalent activity), or chit chat with other teachers in the hallway during class time. Afterwards they blame the students for their lack of and interest in learning

Maureen Downey had an interesting editoral in today’s AJC (http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/stories/2009/06/22/mdowneyed_0622_2DOT.html ).

She was quoted as saying:
I’m not sure why the CRCT provoke such dread or why so much intense drilling occurs in the final weeks. If teachers have been teaching the state curriculum and assessing their students throughout the year to ensure they’re getting it, the annual test should be a cinch.

My sentiments exactly. These teachers drill and kill precisely because they haven’t been teaching. These people have been goofing off all year. And then’s when it’s time for the test, they want to rush and cram just to get the students to pass the test, so the heat will be off. Others would rather do “CRCT prep” all year because it gives them the perfect excuse not to prepare and present interesting, dynamic, and effective lessons. These people don’t really want to teach anyway- despite all the protests and whinning about standardized testing ruining teacher creativity. They didn’t want to be creative teachers, which is why the students are failing in the first place. All the teachers and administrators of these schools care about is if the school “makes AYP”. This way the “heat is off” and they can continue to have business as usual (doing nothing and not having answer to anybody).

Seen it all

June 22nd, 2009
1:52 pm

As for releasing cut scores, we know what a stink was made the last time somebody requested release of the cut scores. Even if you raise the cut score, you can still make the questions easier.

Show us the data

June 22nd, 2009
2:26 pm

Seen it all,

I’m with you that no child should ever have less than the teacher’s best effort because of their background or circumstances. There are way too many success stories from students who succeed with even the most challenging of backgrounds to deny this.

But home and environment, on the macro level matter, and to pretend otherwise is to do exactly that; pretend. On the one hand, educrats want to blame teachers for not having the same results as teachers with more affluent students, then they turn right around and contradict themselves, by advocating all kinds of monies be spent to address the deficiencies of the home environment, the same environment that allegedly is of little to no consequence when you are blaming teachers.

While I agree that there are so many individual exceptions to the rule that no teacher should ever limit a child because of background, it’s intellectually dishonest to say it doesn’t matter on the macro level.

When educrats claim it doesn’t matter, that it’s all the teacher, you just have to ask one question, and they’ll all stop dead in their tracks.

Find one public school in Georgia, with a free and reduced lunch rate of over 80%, that does consistently better than an affluent school with a free and reduced lunch rate of under 20%. Then watch the hemming and hawing begin.

Of course there are so many individual students who are exceptions to the macro trend, that every student must be given the benefit of the doubt. But if home really, truly doesn’t matter, like many educrats claim, then why do we as a society spend billions each year trying to address family situations, if they have no bearing on school performance?

Seen it all

June 22nd, 2009
2:43 pm

Show us the data,

You did a lot of talking just to tell us this- “home environment does matter.” OK. I can accept that point. Home environment can play A role in education. But many educators want to use this as the only rationale to explain disparities in student achievement. Using this rationale alone takes away all of responsibility and focus from administrative policy, classroom instruction, and teacher training. Being from a lower income home, a home where Spanish is spoken, or from the inner city does not mean that expectations have to be lowered. We should believe that those students are able to learn at high levels, as well as be well behaved.

Read a book by Martin Haberman: Star Teachers of Children in Poverty. An excellent book “Show us..” that will explain all of this to you very clearly.

You're kidding, right?

June 22nd, 2009
2:55 pm

DeKalb County gets over $30 million every year for Title 1 programs from the federal government to be used for before school care, after care, tutoring, enrichment, yada, yada. Still, even with this much support, they aren’t able to improve students performance much. So, take the money issue off the table.

Seen it all

June 22nd, 2009
2:58 pm

Show us the data,

You did a lot of talking just to tell us this- “home environment does matter.” OK. I can accept that point. Home environment can play A role in education. But many educators want to use this as the only rationale to explain disparities in student achievement. Using this rationale alone takes away all of responsibility and focus from administrative policy, classroom instruction, and teacher training. Being from a lower income home, a home where Spanish is spoken, or from the inner city does not mean that expectations have to be lowered. We should believe that those students are able to learn at high levels, as well as be well behaved.

Read a book by Martin Haberman: Star Teachers of Children in Poverty. “Show us” (and everybody else), this will explain all of this very clearly.

Teach students you get

June 22nd, 2009
3:03 pm

Show us the data:

Teachers have no control over their students’ socio-economic situations. Therefore, they shouldn’t be worried about it or using it as an excuse. They are professionals because they have this body of professional knowledge to deal with students they get, not only those students (and their families) they want. If they can’t, then they should find a different career.

Maureen shows cluelessness again

June 22nd, 2009
3:07 pm

From Maureen “Blame Teachers First” Downey’s latest:

“I’m not sure why the CRCT provoke such dread or why so much intense drilling occurs in the final weeks. If teachers have been teaching the state curriculum and assessing their students throughout the year to ensure they’re getting it, the annual test should be a cinch.”

Sure. An eight grade math teacher, who has a class of students on a fifth grade level, who know there is no accountability because they failed the test in third grade and fifth grade and got promoted anyway, has only to teach the state curriculum and assess throughout the year, and the CRCT should be a cinch.

But of course.

Turd Ferguson

June 22nd, 2009
3:12 pm

These “supposed” teachers are too busy having crap like “Grammy” day and teaching this kids to do the “bug-a-loo” to some cheap/shoddy rap song and disguising it as a salute to Obama.

More black on black crime.

In defense

June 22nd, 2009
3:30 pm

I taught a wonderful group of students this last year. They were bright, enthusiastic, engaging, and a joy to teach. They were successful. They all passed the CRCT because they let me teach. Anything we didn’t know, we worked together until we found the answers. We learned together with some ah-haa moments for them and for me. Other excellent teachers at my school were not so fortunate. The students they had did everything they could to stop these teachers from teaching. Bad student behavior kept these teachers from teaching and kept other students from learning. It is very difficult to teach students who cause trouble in class, and it usually only takes one or two students to absolutely ruin a class.

We need to remember that it is the student who is taking the test. It is that student who should be accountable for what he/she does on that test. All too often students don’t take this test or any test seriously, and they don’t try as hard as they should during the school year or during the CRCT.

Georgia is blessed with many excellent teachers who work much more than 40 hours a week. It would be wrong to condemn us all for the shortcomings of some. If the administrators/teachers are proven to be guilty of wrongdoing in their handling of the CRCT, then let them be punished for their misdeeds.

I do believe that the ITBS needs to be required at the 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade levels. We need to know how we compare with the rest of the students in the United States, and the ITBS is an excellent test instrument to use. If we’re going to have the CRCT as a measure of what our students know, then let’s do what we need to do to make it just that.

It all boils down to all of us in Georgia honestly working together to teach our students lessons that will prepare them for the future. Most of all though, it depends on the student doing his/her best.

Show us the data

June 22nd, 2009
3:34 pm

Teach the students you get,

First, of course we must note, you couldn’t answer a simple direct question. If socio-economic status is not a factor in academic achievement on the macro level, if it really is almost exclusively the teacher, then show us one public school is Georgia where the free and reduced lunch is 80% and above, that consistently outperforms a more affluent school where 20% and below receive free and reduced lunch.

No one is saying that you can’t have high expectations for all students. But it’s not teachers in general who lack high expectations, it’s the schools themselves. As Seen it All says, all children, regardless of background should be expected to behave and learn.

But school systems in general lie about having high expectations for learning, because you can’t have high expectations for learning if you don’t have high expectations for behavior. And if you really have high expectations for behavior, instead of just giving lip service to it, you have rule and consequences, and you consistently enforce those consequences.

But, as like Gwinnett have shown, by sweeping literally thousands of behavior incidents under the rug by not reporting them, they really don’t expect the students to behave.

And that’s not teachers sweeping the incidents under the rug; that’s not teachers showing that their high expectations are really a lie, that’s Alvin and crew in administration.

You're kidding, right?

June 22nd, 2009
3:35 pm

I find it interesting that teachers are quick to blame students failures on their parents/home life, however, rarely do you see teachers saying that their high achieving students are so bright due to their parents/home life, no – it’s due to their incredible teaching skills!

Show us the data

June 22nd, 2009
4:02 pm

Teach students you get and Seen it all, let’s play a hypothetical little game. Since it’s hypothetical, loser dies LOL

You two are going to manage a baseball team in a hypothetical 7 game series. Your life depends on your team winning. You have two choices.

A) You get one full year, 365 days, of one on one intensive “training” from the best managers in major league baseball. Then you get to pick your team of 25 players. Randomly. From the phone book. And then you get 8 months to train them, just like a teacher gets 8 months before the CRCT. Of course they are all from different backgrounds as far a baseball goes, but of course you wouldn’t mind that, because you have had the best professional training right? And you have 8 months to train them.

B) You get one day, one single day, of training. You learn the basic rules, and how to fill out the lineup card. And then you choose your team. Randomly. Only you choose your 25 from the group of players who are currently playing in the College World Series.

There is the ultimate in accountability, because your life depends on your team winning the 7 game series. So you have two choices A or B?

Which do you choose Seen it All? And which do you choose Teach students you get?

A or B?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

June 22nd, 2009
4:12 pm

(1) External audit of testing process and results by testing experts from outside GA; &
(2) Each testing site monitored by a team of at least 2 disinterested observers with no connections to any GA public school, any public educational system, the GDOE, or any public or private entity receiving funding from any of the above or its employees to include, but not limited to, GAE, PAGE, the GSBA, GSSA, GASBA, etc.

jim d

June 22nd, 2009
5:08 pm

Dr. Craig,

a much easier method would just be to eliminate high stakes testing. Since it has never been proven to improve education one iota.

Whatta think?

You're kidding, right?

June 22nd, 2009
5:27 pm

I find it interesting that teachers are quick to blame students failures on their parents/home life, however, rarely do you see teachers saying that their high achieving students are so bright due to their parents/home life, no – it’s due to their incredible teaching skills!

cricket

June 22nd, 2009
6:02 pm

“rarely do you see teachers saying that their high achieving students are so bright due to their parents/home life, no – it’s due to their incredible teaching skills!”
————————-
You are way off base with that…

Every teacher I know attributes high student achievement to positive home environment and parent involvement.

You're kidding, right?

June 22nd, 2009
6:29 pm

You must know different teachers than I.

At any rate, when you teachers became teachers, were you not aware of how horrible these students apparently are? Was it a shock? Why don’t you quit and do something else? Most good teachers do, sadly.

As far as monitoring tests. I agree with the person who suggested changing teachers for the day. However, the cheating isn’t apparently done during the test, it’s done by the light of a flashlight in a dark closet or home office by an administrator in fear of losing their six-figure salary because they know darn well they couldn’t make $40k on the outside.

Show us the data

June 22nd, 2009
6:46 pm

The general unwillingness to answer the question posed by the 4:02 post can be summed up in one word: Checkmate.

Me, too

June 22nd, 2009
7:52 pm

Hey – to “You’re kidding” – all the teachers I know give the high achieving kids and their parents their due. I regularly hear teachers saying things like “boy, that kid is bright” or “wow, that kid’s parents really work with him” – I have never heard a teacher say “those kids got great test scores all because of lil’ ol’ me.” I don’t know where you are, but I certainly don’t want to go there – and I don’t want to know the teachers you claim to know.

You all can debate this as much as you want, but study after study has shown strong correlation between the education of the mother (dad doesn’t count as much, sorry to say) and the child’s achievement. Are there outliers? Of course there are – be they gifted students from impoverished backgrounds or teachers who work miracles in the worst of classroom. But ask yourself, logically, can a child from a non-hs-graduating single parent easily compete with a child from two college-educated parents where the mom stays home and enrichment opportunities abound? We continue to ignore that, and pretend that the playing field is level. It’s clearly tilted, no?

Also, “you’re kidding” – no, sincerely, most teachers are not aware of how “horrible” (your word) these students are. The reasons are myriad, but include the fact that most teachers are white, female, and middle class, who grew up generally liking school – encountering a class of students who would like to see her cry on the first day (it happens: http://www.uft.org/news/teacher/newer/diaries/first_cry/). There are articles about this if you care enough to google them. Also, most schools of education do well teaching theory, but don’t always give their new teachers enough practical knowledge in classroom management – add to that that many schools don’t give their new teachers enough support in that area, and you have a recipe for disaster. Teaching is one of the few professions where newbies are expected to perform as well as veterans from day 1. What happens is the newbies often start in schools that are tough (having high turnover due to a challenging population) and either make it, learn some skills, and move on to greener pastures (where the kids are better behaved and more motivated to learn) or leave the profession completely. As I said, there’s plenty of info on all of this if you want to google it – but I doubt you will, as it’s so much easier to just keep blaming the teachers.

Y2Educate

June 22nd, 2009
8:41 pm

I apologize if this is a duplicate posting.

How about tracking students in grades 3/5/8, the grades when students must pass the CRCT in order to pass to the next grade? I wonder how many students have failed multiple times and continue to be passed on to the next grade. The figures for single occurrences are appalling. In these cases, we are CHEATING students out of the help they need.

I stopped teaching high school for various reasons, but the top two were; (1) I got tired of teaching HIGH SCHOOL students who had elementary reading levels, and (2) I figured I could try to be part of the solution since I was aware of the reading/writing skills that students would need in order to be successful in high school and beyond.

As for summer school, it is a joke depending on the situation. Last year when we had already made AYP before the session began, our summer school administrator had a zero tolerance for discipline issues. If you misbehaved, you went home and were told to come back for your retest. This year, because we are on the fence for making AYP, we are having to deal with the students who do not want to be there and whose parents/guardians offer little, no support, or their child knows how to make the teacher, other students, etc. look like they are the problems.

For example, a student called his dad, during break time, to bring him something he left at home. The next day, the teacher called his father because he was misbehaving. The student said that the teacher should not be calling his father and bothering his rest with nonsense. UNBELIEVABLE. The father came, sat in class and observed for 30 minutes, and of course during this time, the student was a model of excellence. How do you motivate students like this? I am a very caring teacher and hold my students’ failures as my responsibility. However, how can I be held accountable for students who don’t apply themselves in and out of the classroom? Students who do not use the proven strategies to help them excel? Students who just bubble anything because their buddies from the year before were passed on during the appeals process?

You're kidding, right?

June 22nd, 2009
10:18 pm

Me too, I asked why these teachers were not aware of the “horrible” students after reading the posts by teachers complaining here on the AJC blog. For the most part, the teachers have complained that they have to teach outrageous children who are intent on harming them…! I’m wondering why they keep at it?!! (BTW, the best teacher my son ever had was in her first year of teaching – HS English – he said she treated them like they were human beings.)

But wow, this statement has now thrown me for yet another loop. You actually said the reason teachers are so surprised by these students is, “most teachers are white, female, and middle class, who grew up generally liking school – encountering a class of students who would like to see her cry on the first day”

I don’t know how on earth to respond to that one. As I read it, you are saying that these teachers were unaware of the outrageously behaved students they were about to encounter because they are white and middle class (and presumably hadn’t experienced such behavior, due to their white, privileged backgrounds.) OK – I’m done here. That excuse just put this entire conversation out in space.

You're kidding, right?

June 22nd, 2009
10:27 pm

ps, no one is asking teachers to bring students up to the highest achieving levels. Of course students from homes with highly educated parents are going to do better in school. However, that is no excuse for not be able to at least teach the most challenged students enough to pass the basic skills required by tests such as the CRCT. It’s not that hard to maintain grade level as required by the CRCT. The problem is, we don’t do it in kindergarten and then year over year, the teaching gets more and more behind and pretty soon you have out of control pre-teens reading at 3rd grade levels and acting out because inside, they are aware that they are failing to learn.

Maisy

June 23rd, 2009
9:36 am

You’re kidding, right? – How much time have you spent teaching in a classroom? Just asking…

You're kidding, right?

June 23rd, 2009
10:38 am

Check out today’s Yahoo headline, “700 NYC teachers are paid to do nothing.” Here’s what teachers unions are doing for teachers reputations:

“Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.
Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.
The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.”

You're kidding, right?

June 23rd, 2009
10:42 am

Maisy – does it really matter if I’m a teacher or not? Do you think teachers should be allowed to wallow in public self pity and when challenged simply respond that no one is entitled to respond unless they’re a teacher? FWIW, I come from a family of teachers. I work in the business world, but I would consider teaching if it paid more, which I always advocate for, as well as diminishing the teachers unions power. Healthy competition and demand for teachers jobs would certainly weed out bad teachers. If I was in there, as a good teacher, I’d want the bad ones gone.

Me, too

June 23rd, 2009
10:49 am

“You’re kidding” – of course you don’t know how to respond to it; you probably can’t even imagine it. It’s not out in space; it’s just out of your understanding of the world of education. Google it – you’ll find it’s fairly well documented phenomenon. There are even classes and seminars to help teachers “understand the child from poverty” and so on. Look up Ruby Payne, among others. It’s a whole different mindset of which you clearly have no concept.

Many preservice teachers pictures themselves in front of a classroom full of joyful learners, much like themselves – the reality is hard to deal with. The others picture themselves as miracle workers such as Ron Clark, Erin Gruwell, or LouAnne Johnson – then reality jumps up and bites them as well.

Your 10:27 is somewhat contrary to to NCLB – you’re right in that the law is not asking teachers to bring everyone to the highest level, but it is asking everyone – even those you described as “the most challenged students” to a level that frankly IS unattainable for some. NCLB does not care that Johnny improved if Johnny’s improvement still “does not meet standards” – nor does the American public if their neighborhood school is labeled “need improvement” due to little Johnny. You are 100% correct in your statement “The problem is, we don’t do it in kindergarten and then year over year, the teaching gets more and more behind and pretty soon you have out of control pre-teens reading at 3rd grade levels and acting out because inside, they are aware that they are failing to learn.” That’s a huge part of the problem.

Me, too

June 23rd, 2009
11:21 am

Excellent article comparing and contrasting two students in two different LA schools – AJC should do something similar:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-11thgrade22-2009jun22,0,2883533.story?page=1

BTW – it looks like my post responding to “You’re kidding” got eaten by the blog monster – oh, well – I basically said google it – try something like “educating students from poverty’ or “understanding children from poverty” – it’ll open your eyes.

Maisy

June 23rd, 2009
11:58 am

YKR – Yes, I think it does matter. I think that those of us who teach realize the situation is more complex than you portray it. I entered teaching from another career, so I wasn’t naive enough to believe that there weren’t going to be problem students, but there is no substitute for experiencing those difficult kids in class while trying to teach.

You said “However, that is no excuse for not be able to at least teach the most challenged students enough to pass the basic skills required by tests such as the CRCT. It’s not that hard to maintain grade level as required by the CRCT.” If you taught, you would understand that there is nearly nothing I can do in one school year to bring up a student who reads on a 1st or 2nd grade level and has an IQ of 75 to 8th grade level. If I’m fortunate enough to have a good group of kids who don’t consume my class time with behavior issues, I might make some strides with that student and bring him/her up a grade level or maybe even two.

You also said “pretty soon you have out of control pre-teens reading at 3rd grade levels and acting out because inside, they are aware that they are failing to learn.” While that’s sometimes true, let me offer this anecdote – this year I had two very intelligent boys in one of my classes. These boys were intent on focusing the spotlight on themselves every day. They didn’t act out because they were frustrated; they acted out because they enjoyed whatever attention they could get. There are many, many reasons why students choose to misbehave.

With that said, I did not mean to imply that if you’re not a teacher, then your opinion doesn’t matter. I welcome feedback from people who aren’t teachers because they often bring a perspective that we teachers don’t have. As with any profession that serves others, I think it’s important that we listen to what others have to say because sometimes we’re too close to an issue to see the bigger picture. I just take issue when someone makes blanket statements without having enough background knowledge about the subject.

By the way, there are no teachers’ unions in Georgia – only teachers’ organizations.

You're kidding, right?

June 23rd, 2009
3:31 pm

Ok then. Whatever. Just explain to me, if it’s so bloody bad, why do you continue to subject yourself to it? Surely you could go out and get a job that pays just as much with similar benefits that doesn’t require tolerating the abuses you speak of. I don’t get it – why all the public whining?

Here’s an interesting statistic from the US Dept of Labor — The job that is held by the largest number of individuals, as well as the occupation that has shown the greatest growth in the last 30 years is that of Wal-Mart clerk. Second is McDonalds burger flipper. Third – BK flipper. And close behind? Elementary school teacher.

If educational institutions are so demonstrably successful, why are we always hearing about their failures? Because that premise, along with the teachers constant complaining, creates a limitless demand for more resources: books, computers, buildings, employees, etc. It’s become big business to bail out ‘failing’ schools as it becomes more and more widely believed that the only response to a fall into sub-mediocrity is to buy one’s way out.

Look into who owns businesses like charter schools, testing companies, consulting companies, text book companies. The money to be made rivals the oil business! And teachers are their biggest salespersons.

I tell you it’s not that hard to maintain a decent quality of grade-level learning and your response it that you can’t do it with kids with an IQ of 85. See how difficult you are? Open your eyes, get off the teacher/whiner bandwagon and do your job — or quit.

Elsie

June 23rd, 2009
3:46 pm

To those suggesting that Georgia should implement the ITBS in place of the CRCT:
Two different issues are in play here. The ITBS would give us a valid method of comparing Georgia students to national statistics. However, it would not address the problem of cheating on the test, since cheating is just as possible on any standardized test. Personally, I think that the cheating problem needs to be resolved, or it won’t matter which test we give, because no results would be valid.

Maisy

June 23rd, 2009
4:36 pm

YKR – Once again, you’re issuing cover-all, blanket statements and making assumptions. I didn’t say it was “so bloody bad” and I wouldn’t call what I described as “abuses.” It’s just part of the job; I deal with it and search for ways to handle it better next time. The extreme, all-or-nothing statements just frustrate me, especially when it’s evident that they come from someone who doesn’t fully comprehend the complexities of job. I would never presume to make judgments about your or the job you do – I don’t even know you.

I enjoy what I do, I “do my job,” as you urged me to do, and I don’t whine (even though you might disagree with that). I just gave you an anecdote to offset the blanket statement you made about behavior problems being tied to student frustration. I completely agree with you that it’s not that hard to maintain a decent quality of grade-level learning. I believe I did a pretty good job of that this year. It is difficult (and I’m sure you can talk to some of those teachers in your family to verify this) that, without intensive, targeted, long-term, one-on-one instruction, it is nearly impossible to bring up, in one year, a student who is 6 or 7 grade levels behind and who just doesn’t have the learning capacity that other students have. That may not be politically correct to say, but it is the cold, hard truth. Both instances that I mentioned previously are not the norm in my school, but those kinds of students are there, and they do make an impact on the classroom environment. These are legitimate teacher concerns.

I also completely agree with you that more money is not the answer. Most teachers that I know are not big proponents of testing and consultants. These are things that are thrown at us by administrators, whether we want them or not.

Veteran teacher

June 23rd, 2009
5:22 pm

You’re kidding, one flaw in your logic. And it is the same flaw many outside of education do not recognize especially the politicians. You are assuming that every child that comes to school does his/her best and works every minute of every day. Personally, I have activities going on every minute of every class period. I am popular, and parents lobby to have their kids in my class. And it is not because I am perceived as “easy”, either. However, I have to report that the many students do as little as possible to get a passing grade. Also, anyone that believes that all students try their best on even high stakes tests like the CRCT and EOCT have not proctored a test lately. I have routinely seen students answer every question on the test in less than 10 minutes.

I can teach until I drop. I can offer a world-class curriculum. I can encourage, punish, or do whatever you wish, but I have no magic that makes a student follow through on their part of the learning. Many do not want to hear this, but I used to have only one or two slack students per class. Now it is not unusual to have half the class barely doing anything. I do not “allow” this to happen. The administration is VERY supportive, and we have regular contact with parents. We take action on those that do not work, and we all spend hours doing interventions.

Please hear this loud and clear: We have to teach the students that are sent to us. The vast number of teachers I work with put in the time and effort above and beyond the call of duty to teach kids every day. If all kids would give us their best effort the majority of the time, there would be no negativity associated with test scores, and the vast majority of students WOULD be on grade level.

If you don’t believe me, extrapolate the test data. Check the standardized test scores of all students who give their best effort. Regardless of ability, you will find that these students will have the highest standardized test scores. How do we know who has given their best effort the entire year? Ask the teacher of the class. They will know!! I challenge you, compare the standardized scores of those that work versus those that do not.

Now, if any of our fellow bloggers know how to make every student do their best on all my activities and on the standardized tests, please let me and everyone else know. I will admit I don’t know the answer, and it is not for lack of trying!!

You're kidding, right?

June 23rd, 2009
5:38 pm

Well, good luck, Maisy. I leave you feeling lucky — I really like my job – no complaints whatsoever. You have made me appreciate that.

concerned teacher

June 23rd, 2009
9:22 pm

Please stop responding to YKR. If the only solution to the problem of having a difficult job is to quit, we don’t need his/her advice. Do teachers complain? You bet we do. Then, we get up the next day and work just as hard or harder than we did the day before. At least I do, and if people have any sort of work ethic at all, they do at their jobs (teachers or not). The question is about monitoring the test. I agree that having someone from outside the school is a good idea but could get very expensive. Start with the schools where we know there are problems. Maybe the teachers and admins could use the day to go through some ethics training (or writing letters to Congress to have NCLB repealed).

Ideas

June 23rd, 2009
9:58 pm

I thought this blog was about ideas for testing monitoring. Here is one. Have each section of the test in a separate booklet so once the reading portion is taken, they are immediately picked up by an outside person and turned in. The same for each content area. Also, have outside moderators come in and monitor testing. Also, have cameras located on the testing secured site at all times, if it is a testing closet where materials are stored or whatever, so you can clearly see who has access at all times. Swap principals and APS on testing days to do testing for other schools but also send in outside monitors.

Ideas

June 23rd, 2009
9:59 pm

Better yet, just get rid of NCLB.

Talking, not walking

June 23rd, 2009
10:14 pm

I would love for You’re kidding, right? to walk the walk and actually do what is claimed to be so easy, but I can’t in good faith subject a group of students to the sight of YKR, balled up in a fetal position under the teacher’s desk, in a puddle of urine, sobbing uncontrollably, “It really isn’t the teachers. It really IS the discipline.”

GA Education

June 24th, 2009
12:37 pm

All this is brought to light ofter the 2008 testing cycle…it will be very interesting to note what happens after this past year’s (2009) test scores are compared to last year. I’d be willing to BET that there are administrators shaking in their boots with all this coverage. I KNOW FOR A FACT that a school that ranked in the 65th percentile last year (with a different principal) ranks in the 80th percentile for the 2009 CRCT. Hmmmm. There are teachers at this school who are appalled at the cheating that went on this year.

We’ll see if anyone picks up on this drastic improvement at this school or any others that show MARKED, UNREALISTIC improvement.

Many of you are discussing ways to keep the kids from cheating when I see the problem being administrators cheating AFTER the tests are collected from the kids. So it’s not the kids cheating so much as it is the administrators cheating. Kids are pretty much unaware of the AYP or Target requirements.

Steve

June 24th, 2009
3:11 pm

Just once I would love to hear what DOE can do instead of what they cannot. Test was over 2 months ago and we still do not know how individual schools have done. Why don’t they release tests like other states? It would also be nice to have people use their real name and career choice when posting their comments. I wonder how long some of you would last in a classroom. I wonder how many that post comments could actually pass the CRCT. Would be interesting. I wonder if any posters have cheated on their income taxes. Speed limits. Business practices. The way most talk they don’t believe anyone has any integrity or qualifications except the person they look at in the mirror.