Testing season revs up: March madness leads to April angst

Here is a great essay by Georgia classroom teacher Beth Pittard, who is also a grad student at the University of Georgia College of Education:

By Beth Pittard

While many people around the country complete brackets for basketball, teachers everywhere gear up for their own version of March Madness. To prepare for the Criterion Referenced Competency Test to be taken sometime between April 4- May 6, elementary school teachers will actually have to convince students to forget what they have learned about reading.

The high-stakes testing situation leads, literally, to madness.

Let me explain. Teachers are required to teach the Georgia Performance Standards with fidelity. We are expected to “prove” we are doing this by posting the standard in a “highly visible” place in our classrooms along with an essential question (EQ) for each lesson of each day and for each subject area (forget integrating the curriculum, but that’s another story).

Each standard has a code that gives information about the subject area, the grade level, the number of the standard, and the element within that standard. The standard below (ELA5R1h) is interpreted as: English/Language Arts, grade 5, Reading standard 1, element a. The corresponding EQ is also a requirement.

ev.owa

This particular Georgia Performance Standard aligns with research in English Language Arts. Students demonstrate more sophisticated comprehension of text, more motivation to read, and a broader and deeper knowledge of content when they use prior knowledge (memories) and personal experiences to make sense of the text and relate it to new information.

But here comes the contradiction. During March Madness, signs like this are posted on school walls:sign1 (Medium)

In other words, students as young as 8 years old are taught to be perceptive, connection-making readers the first part of the year. Then those same students are told not to use the very skills and practices their teachers have taught them “good readers use” so they can pass a test.

Administrators and teachers lose in this system. Administrators attempt to support teachers by giving them strategies shown to increase test scores. Teachers are required to teach these test-taking strategies that are in direct opposition to the standards they’ve been required to teach all year.

Who loses the most?  Confused students, again as young as 8, who see tests as uphill battles. Before they sit down on the “real” test day, their anxiety has been building. They know there are multiple ways to “read” each question: to make personal connections or not; to choose the “best” answer or the “right” one and how to figure out the difference between the two.  Parents don’t know how to help. The community is outraged or discouraged because “those” kids or “those” teachers or “those” administrators cannot seem to get it together and pass that one little test.

That one little test that can change the academic trajectory of a student. Third graders must pass the reading portion in order to be promoted to the fourth grade. Fifth and eighth graders must pass the reading and math portions to be promoted to the next grade.

Let me be clear. This is not a teacher problem.  This is not an administrator problem. This is not a parent problem, and it certainly is not a student problem. It is a systematic problem that is not going to change until we refuse to make high-stakes judgments about students based on a number on a test.

Stop the March Madness! If teachers were allowed time to teach and plan rather than constantly having to prove that we are teaching required standards, then maybe students would have opportunities to learn things that will serve them well in life—not just contradictory lessons that confuse them in an effort to pass a standardized test.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

84 comments Add your comment

Halfrack

March 28th, 2012
2:39 pm

Testing is always a key element to seeing how much students learn. Testing is a method to see if teachers are teaching. Tenure, Unions, and fudging performance reports of teachers to get raises all enter this equation. An adequate teacher should on average have most of their students pass what their specific teaching subject allowed them to be hired. A small percentage of students will fail. Our Georgia HS schools have been so bad in the past that there were students graduating that could not adequately read, write a simple report to explain an occurrence of a job function, write an adequate resume, balance a check book, know how to respond on a job interview and to think critically about life’s circumstances. Some adequate measure of performance should be required as to their competency and that it continues.

William Casey

March 28th, 2012
2:43 pm

… And thus commences the era of “RoboTeacher.” That will surely inspire the little urchins to learn. Won’t it?

Ron F.

March 28th, 2012
2:46 pm

“Let me be clear. This is not a teacher problem. This is not an administrator problem. This is not a parent problem, and it certainly is not a student problem. It is a systematic problem that is not going to change until we refuse to make high-stakes judgments about students based on a number on a test”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Grumps

March 28th, 2012
2:51 pm

I understand the frustration contained in the article. There needs to be a consistency across the system. I have no doubt of that.

However, there must also be some kind of objective, measureable evaluation of everyone involved in that system. The key word is measureable. The way it works in my job is, in December, I write a set of measureable objectives for myself for the coming year. My manager reviews these, makes comments and suggestions and eventually we jointly come up with my objectives for the year.

I am held accountable for these. If I commit to an objective and don’t make it, I will be financially impacted – I might not get the raise I was counting on.

I’d like to see our students held to international standards. That is where the competition for jobs will come from. They need to be ready.

The tests are ridiculously easy

March 28th, 2012
2:56 pm

I understand the point the teacher is trying to make but the fact is, these tests are ridiculously easy and the amount of right answers required to pass the test are ridiculoulsy low.
We were given no testing strategies as kids. We were just told to have a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast and show up with two number two pencils.
Todays ridiculously easy test questions for third graders are things like:
If it is half past six, what time is it?
6:00
6:30
6:15
6:45
choose one.
to know the right answer the kid has to know that there are sixty minutes in an hour and half of sixty is 30.
A no brainer for an eight year old.
My kids learned to tell time 9and were taught to tell time in APS in kindergarten.
If you are eight years old and you can’t tell time and you don’t know that there are sixty minutes in an hour and half of sixty is thirty….something is awfully wrong….and it isn’t the curriculum. It isn’t the standard. It isn’t the kid.
It’s the teacher.
When a kid has been in school for four years (by third grade) and can’t tell time, we as a society have failed our children.
GM

3schoolkids

March 28th, 2012
3:16 pm

Seems like what she is saying is the test is no good. If the test is no good, get rid of it. In homeschooling my 8 year old, I am required by the state to administer a standardized test, but I have greater flexibility in choosing which one. Why don’t we drop the CRCT, substitute with benchmark assessments given to the students throughout the year to show mastery of curriculum and only use one national standardized test for core subjects? For example, giving the ITBS in September provides extra time during the summer for students that may need extra help mastering concepts. Provide summer school for the kids who did not master curriculum by the end of the year.

Many students go through school “meeting” standards and then get to middle or high school and can’t do the work. No wonder middle school is such a difficult transition.

@GM

March 28th, 2012
3:29 pm

GM:

To you and me, the concept of time may be simplistic; however, for the 5th grader I’m currently tutoring (and he isn’t the only one)– you’d be surprised to know that time is one of her hardest concepts to understand. Most likely because most watches and cellphones post a digital clock; thus, he hasn’t been “trained” to grasp this concept.

In regards to time, another problems I see elementary school students grasping is something as simplistic as this: If Suzy started her homework at 6:46PM and wants to finish by her favorite television show, which begins at 8:30PM, how long does Suzy take to complete her homework?

Just a thought.

Elizabeth

March 28th, 2012
3:30 pm

So you think learning that ‘half-past six” is easy for an 8 year old? Well , I agree. It SHOULD be a no brainer. So why do I have 8th graders that cannot tell time by the analog clock on my wall and cannot under stand what “half past” the hour is? Because they can only read a digital clock, that’s why. Every year I get asked the time countless times because I still believe kids should be able to TELL time by an analog clock rather than READ it from a digital clock. Is that my fault, too?

Mr. Casey, I have news for you: “robo teacher” has been here for several years. Last week I had my annual evaluation. My students were struggling with gerunds and participles. So I stopped my lesson in the middle because it was not working. I pulled out ( from my HEAD, not from the filing cabinet) the way I USED to teach this subject, the way my mother and my teachers taught it to me, and the way my kids used to learn and understand it. The kids got it! My new principal ( we lost my old wonderful one at Christmas) commended me for making the kids understand it. Then he gave me an Needs Improvement because I did not follow the prepared script. As he explained to me, he could not go to the classroom across the hall and hear what I had taught because I had deviated from the scripted activities on the lesson plan for the day. I am therefore not ” a team player”.

I have refused to sign the evaluation, and have been informed that it is insubordination if I do not sign acknowledging receipt. I have requested, as is my right, to be re-evaluated another day. He refused, saying he “did not have time”. I am well aware that signing “with comments” is useless protection. The county office looks at the score, not at my comments.

I have contacted my professional organization, who will make certain that I am re-evaluated, for all the good it will do. I am now labeled as “not a team player”, and I expect to be on this principal’s list of people to be harrassed or transfered or both.

Why? Because I thought ( silly me) that helping my kids learn and understand was more important than following a script. My old principal would have understood that and been pleased. And you wonder why teachers are frustrated ?

If I am to be accountable for what my kids learn ( and to a point, I should be), then let me TEACH them– my way, which has worked for 32 years. I am at the end of the road professionally. Everyone says we should be more flexible in teaching kids. But the opposite is what is happening. This is the beginning of the end for me because I am unable to turn myself into a “robo teacher”.

God help the children. Test scores will not improve with robots in the classroom. You don’t have to believe me. TIME will prove me correct.

drew (former teacher)

March 28th, 2012
3:46 pm

“That one little test that can change the academic trajectory of a student. Third graders must pass the reading portion in order to be promoted to the fourth grade. Fifth and eighth graders must pass the reading and math portions to be promoted to the next grade.”

I’ll have to take exception to this statement. Although it may be the “official policy”, my experience is that the vast majority of these students are typically “placed”. Otherwise, 5th and 8th grade classes would be perpetually filled to the max. It’s only when they get to 9th grade that consequences are felt. And for many, it’s a very rude awakening..a couple of years in the 9th grade and they’re done with school. And then we wonder why the dropout rate is so high.

GM says: “…something is awfully wrong….and it isn’t the curriculum. It isn’t the standard. It isn’t the kid. It’s the teacher. When a kid has been in school for four years (by third grade) and can’t tell time, we as a society have failed our children.”

Well, which is it GM? Is it the teacher or society that has failed these kids? Nevermind…I’m sure it’s the teacher. It’s always the teacher.

BTW, my kids knew how to tell time BEFORE they set foot in a school…it’s called parenting.

To @Gm

March 28th, 2012
3:47 pm

My kids are very average. The grasped time in first grade including half past. Any child who can count to sixty can tell time. There isn’t an excuse for it. It needs to be taught — what doesn’t need to be taught is:
WHITNEY HOUSTON.
I was flabbergasted to learn that during black history month my child’s teacher was teaching my child about a famous drug addict.
Whitny Houston broke no color barriers. She made no strides where other black Americans had not gone. She was simply a famous rich woman who happened to be black.
yes let’s teacher MLK and Frederick Douglas but Whitney Houston? A complete waste of taxpayer dollars.
GM

To Drew (former teacher)

March 28th, 2012
3:49 pm

You asked me to clarify society or teacher.
As a society we train the teachers. We hire the teachers and we fail to fire the bad teachers.
It is a teacher’s fault if shehe can’t teach a child to tell time.
It is society’s fault that we won’t get rid of an incompetent teacher.
GM

To Elizabeth

March 28th, 2012
3:52 pm

you can’t blame digital clocks. My children were taught without a real clock.
They used drawings on a ditto sheet with hands pointing to numbers on a fake clock. they grasped the concept and they are ridiculously average children.
Digital clocks are no excuse for failure to teach.
GM

To @Gm

March 28th, 2012
3:54 pm

Again all you need to know is that there are sixty minutes in an hour and how to add and subtract.
This is not a difficult concept to grasp but obviously some teachers can’t teach kids to tell time perhaps they never learned themselves. for every wonderfully educated intelligent teacher we have a half dozen mediocre ones and a couple of god awful should be fired ones here in APS.
GM

Good Morning

March 28th, 2012
3:55 pm

Guess what I have been doing EVERYDAY for a whole month? Review Review Review… Read the passsage and find the correct answer…..So much REAL learning time is loss…. The types of students I teach do need to have practice test, but the CRCT does not completely show the growth they have made or what they have truly learned. Learning is not about a, b, c, d..

Csoby

March 28th, 2012
3:57 pm

your Government at work..hmmm wonder where the Teachers Union is?

To Elizabeth and your gerunds

March 28th, 2012
4:01 pm

I would love for you to show us how you teach gerunds and participles. Can you post your comments here?
I completely understand your frustration and I want you to understand mine.
My childrens’ teacher cannot make hisher subjects and verbs agree. Shehe uses past and present tense incorreclty in writing and in speech, consistently. This is grammar school grammar and shehe can’t use correct, standard, common English that is taught to elementary school children.
Now do you see my frustration?
Gm

Beverly Fraud

March 28th, 2012
4:20 pm

“My new principal ( we lost my old wonderful one at Christmas) commended me for making the kids understand it. Then he gave me an Needs Improvement because I did not follow the prepared script.”

Any chance Mr. INCOMPETENT commended you in writing? Of course having GLARING, LOGICAL, INCONSISTENCIES won’t stop people like Mr. INCOMPETENT will it?

Fled

March 28th, 2012
4:22 pm

@Elizabeth: Anyone with even half a brain (a group which does not include any administrators in Georgia) would applaud what you did. Your assessment indicated that the lesson was not working, so you took steps to modify it to make sure that your students learned something. It sure sounds to me like you were applying higher level critical thinking skills and making sure that your lesson hit the zone of proximal development for your students. You should be applauded.

Unfortunately, as the essay of the day points out, there is a systemic problem, and you are the victim of the stupidity which runs rampant in education. One mistake that a lot of teachers make is to generalize from their own circumstances and therefore to think that all teaching situations are like the one they currently find themselves in. You are working in a hopeless situation with an absolute idiot evaluating you (very common in north Fulton BTW), so you might think that all teaching is like that. It is not. Forget being a team player in such an idiotic, futile environment and only join in to something that is worthy of your devotion and attention.

It’s up to you. I wish you well in your reflection: I would argue that one cannot be a good teacher in such a screwed up system.

Had enough yet, Elizabeth?

Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 28th, 2012
4:23 pm

There’s a very strong negative correlation between the amount of student prep for an exam and the degree of student angst about said test.

By the way, isn’t learning to perform competently in stressful situations a critical life skill?

Fled

March 28th, 2012
4:45 pm

@Grumps: I completely agree with you. An international curriculum would be a good way to go, but then all the repukes would come out of the woodwork bemoaning their lack of local control. The British system offers a good model, and I think that Louisiana is doing something (or trying to) along the same lines. Students spend ninth and tenth grades preparing portfolios of specific types of work for nine subjects that are submitted to external organizations for grades. Teachers and students tend to work together since teachers do not give final grades (the evil government does). After that, students are finished with secondary school and, if they qualify, can go to college-level studies for two years before entering university (a three-year program). Schools tend to be very concerned about their reputations, so they would not send along to college a disruptive student or one who has little chance of success.

Of course, the system has some problems and (surprise!) it works much better with students from families who value education and aspire to higher education for their kids. However, in the British system everyone everywhere knows what is required, and there are no surprises. Teachers are pretty open about telling students what will happen if they do not get on with things. There are no second chances, however, so if a student performs poorly that is pretty much the end of the road so far as access to higher education is concerned.

The Beverly Halls of the world would find a way to cheat any system, I know. However, the British system works superbly for focused, bright children. Need I say that the teachers are treated well and make their careers working in the classroom as professionals? For such a structured program, lessons are not scripted—at all. The teacher is assumed to know what he or she is doing and expected to get on with things. If you go to almost any cosmopolitan city, you will see that it is almost impossible to get students into British schools, as their methods and models have stood the test of time and their results are routinely the envy of schools using other national curriculum models.

Beverly Fraud

March 28th, 2012
4:46 pm

Had enough yet, Elizabeth?

Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

Fled consistently gives THE best advice to Georgia teachers. If only TENS OF THOUSANDS of teachers would take it, then MAYBE teaching conditions would improve.

Fled

March 28th, 2012
4:47 pm

@Grumps: I completely agree with you. An international curriculum would be a good way to go, but then all the repukes would come out of the woodwork bemoaning their lack of local control. The British system offers a good model, and I think that Louisiana is doing something (or trying to) along the same lines. Students spend ninth and tenth grades preparing portfolios of specific types of work for nine subjects that are submitted to external organizations for grades. Teachers and students tend to work together since teachers do not give grades (the evil government does). After that, students are finished with secondary school and, if they qualify, can go to college-level studies for two years before entering university (a three-year program). Schools tend to be very concerned about their reputations, so they would not send along to college a disruptive student or one who has little chance of success.

Of course, the system has some problems and (surprise!) it works much better with students from families who value education and aspire to higher education for their kids. Everyone everywhere knows what is required, and there are no surprises. Teachers are pretty open about telling students what will happen if they do not get on with things. There are no second chances, however, so if a student performs poorly that is pretty much the end of the road so far as access to higher education is concerned.

The Beverly Halls of the world would find a way to cheat any system, I know. However, the British system works superbly for focused, bright children. Need I say that the teachers are treated well and make their careers working in the classroom as professionals? For such a structured program, lessons are not scripted—at all. The teacher is assumed to know what he or she is doing and expected to get on with things.

irisheyes

March 28th, 2012
4:58 pm

@GM, you are telling me that at least one of your children is in at least the fourth grade, and you have not seen one competent teacher in the (at least) five years your child has been in school? None of them have been able to speak in correct English? None of them know how subjects and verbs agree? All of them have been liars, and cheaters, and drains on society? Yikes. Your luck must be REALLY bad. I wouldn’t cross the street any time soon.

Attentive Parent

March 28th, 2012
5:38 pm

Fled’s advice will not last for long. Georgia is on the cutting edge of implementing Common Core. Where ever fled is maintaining her classroom autonomy will not last for long.

The must adhere to the script is part of the definition of what constitutes effective teaching. It’s the real reason that teachers are now to be evaluated by performance. Performance to the accepted script. It gets at the close the door and teach the content problem first identified in the 1970s Rand Change Agent Study. Very expensive. Very detailed. 1973-1978.

Common Core is not about content. It is about limiting what any child can know or do. It’s the practices that got APS so deep in academic deficits that cheating seemed acceptable. It’s why Elizabeth got in trouble for teaching content. Especially content about abstractions like gerunds and participles. Must be concrete and in context now.

Your new principal is probably there Elizabeth to put in place a Professional Learning Community. To get around the defiant principal implementation problem also noted by Rand.

And Beth’s problem with the CRCT would be solved if the ed schools were not so determined not to teach reading phonetically.

irisheyes

March 28th, 2012
5:53 pm

Am I the only one who can’t see the images? I’ve tried on Chrome, IE, and Firefox.

homeschooler

March 28th, 2012
6:08 pm

@ 3schoolkids.. I think the same thing all the time. Why do they even have the CRCT? My kids take the Iowa test every year. It is a very good indicator of where they are academically. Because I do 75 percent of the teaching with my own children, I can usually predict how they will do. My son will struggle with spelling, my daughter will exceed in reading comprehension etc.. I don’t prepare them for the test in any way, shape or form. They just take it. The results show where they are in relation to all kids, not just kids in GA. I also agree with GM that the tests are usually pretty basic for an average child from a working to uper middle class family. I believe strongly that my kids could have had no formal education whatsoever and passed the test (at least in 2st-4th grade). But there are a lot of kids out there who don’t have the home training to just “know” this stuff.
@ GM… I beleive that you have experienced teachers who can’t properly speak English. Colleges are turning out many many graduates who can not speak or write even as properly as my 8 yr old.
@ Irish Eyes..even if GM’s child had one teacher in 1st-4th grade who couldn’t speak proper English it would be too many. People have the right to expect better for their children.

sneak peek into education

March 28th, 2012
6:11 pm

to GM: your continual commentary on the posts only seek to ridicule and vilify teachers without ever having taught in a classroom yourself. However, let’s get to the reason for my rebuttal. The actual reason the child may not be able to tell time could be because they have a learning delay and his/her brain might not yet be at the stage of development that would give him/her the ability to process this information. Every child does not learn at the same rate, even with the best teachers. I recently tutored a 17 yr old boy who reads at a 1st grade level; he is in the 9th grade. He has received all sorts of remediation and has been placed with some tremendous teachers during his time in school. I worked with him intensively (one-on-one) for five months, and at the end of that time he could was just beginning to grasp CVC words; this is a concept that should have taken him just a few weeks to grasp.I loved working with the young man and didn’t mind the 35 mile round trip from my home, donating my time, and using my own money to supply the necessary materials even though my own financial circumstances could barely afford it. Unfortunately, because of his horrendous home life situation, he had to withdraw.

I remember in a previous post someone commented that you should become a teacher and you replied that if you had gone down that road you would already be an amazing administrator with high morals and integrity; put your words into action and follow through rather than constantly berating and passing comment on something you have no actual experience doing. I can make lots of commentary about how to run the war in Iraq, but without the experience of being a soldier my words are hollow;there is no way I could conceive the complexities of war and being in the trenches day to day without having served in the military.

Also, if I were you and every teacher my children had been placed with are as awful as you claim, I would have already put my children first and either moved to another school district or home schooled them. These are options open to you at any time but, instead, you wish to constantly complain about how awful teachers are. Here’s a thought; instead of constantly complaining about your lot, do something about it. Nobody is forcing you to subject your children or yourself to the “unhappy” situation you describe.

sadteacher

March 28th, 2012
6:38 pm

@sneak peek into education

Well said!

Don't Feeed the Good Mother Troll

March 28th, 2012
7:23 pm

GM makes everything up. Several blogs back, he/she had her kids in Mary Lin and didn’t want to get redistricted. Before that on another blog about the DeKalb SPLOST, his/her kids went to school in DeKalb trailers. He/she just loves to stir up antagonism and pity for himself/herself. Attention is the name of the game.

Jack

March 28th, 2012
7:44 pm

I’m a lucky dude. My granddaughter is in the 5th grade reading at the 12th grade level. Her teacher is amazed.

bootney farnsworth

March 28th, 2012
8:09 pm

Beth, a word of advice.

change your career. do something which makes money and commands respect. like running a laundry, or garbage collector.

education is over, at least in Georgia.

let those of us who are older and too far gone shut the doors
and turn out the lights.

you’ve done nothing wrong enough in your young life to endure
the abuse known as education

bootney farnsworth

March 28th, 2012
8:19 pm

@ Elizabeth,

I know a thing or two about your situtation, having been there myself on more than one occasion.

understand, its a battle you almost certainly can’t win. the decision
you need to make is what are the circumstances you’re willing to lose.

GAE is next to useless, and the system is stacked so you’re guilty with
no way of proving your innocence.

two things you can do which will help. a- do not stop fighting, no matter what. they count on you folding at some point. b- one or two very helpful emails shared with an employment lawyer can make many a
school system stop dead in its tracks.

then hope you’ll get a decent principal someday.

oh, and play lotto

catlady

March 28th, 2012
8:22 pm

Not sure I agree with Beth about the “pressure” on kids. They KNOW, at least by third grade, that passing or not MEANS NOTHING. That is, they will be placed in the next grade, as many of them already have been for a couple of years. In fact, doing homework, or even classwork, doesn’t matter, because there is “no holding back.” NCLB, you know. Everyone succeeds. Teachers’ job is to “make everyone successful,” even if that means working with them 2-4 years below grade level.

I believe the reason we give the tests is to evaluate the teachers. And, of course, it does not do that. Only the ham-handed state DOE and legislature do not recognize that. It does not even do a good job showing a student knows what the state says they need to know.

Reecie

March 28th, 2012
8:28 pm

Well said Beth. How many of the people that have written comments are certified teachers, teach in the public sector and ENJOY what they do. Teaching to the test is a hazzard of the job, as you have pointed out, its not all about the “clock” people. Loving your job, teaching in a Title 1 school and still loving your job, and continuing your higher education, as you are doing are to be commended and respected. The people telling you to bail, or that appear to not understand the purpose and meaning of your article need to take a closer look at the teachers that teach their children or their chosen profession. Congrats on your insight and the love for your profession!!

HS Math Teacher

March 28th, 2012
8:33 pm

Good Mother a.k.a. “Good Blogger”. Get a freaking life, woman! You pay no more taxes than anyone else, and you’ve given more than anyone’s share of comments. I’m done reading your anti-teacher babble, and I’m sick of scrolling past GM, Good Ma, Gm, Good Mother, etc.

dekalbed

March 28th, 2012
8:45 pm

@ catlady

I agree. Passing (or failing) means little, at least in DCSS (or is it now DCSD?). Last year 50% of Dekalb’s 8th graders “did not met the expectations” (doesn’t this mean fail?) the social studies CRCT (and did almost as poorly on the science and math CRCTs), but they moved up anyway.

I can’t blame many of the students, though. As you’ve said there is no incentive for them to work. And the edutainment promoted as teaching is helping no one.

irisheyes

March 28th, 2012
9:10 pm

@homeschooler, and one parent who doesn’t make sure their child comes to school ready to learn is one too many. I don’t paint all parents with the same brush, however.

ScienceTeacher671

March 28th, 2012
9:14 pm

Oh, please! Those kids aren’t going to be retained, even if they do fail the CRCT.

And in the majority of cases, if they fail the CRCT, they’re at least 2 years below grade level, and they NEED to be retained.

Jayne

March 28th, 2012
9:15 pm

Doesn’t really match my experience with the schools. Testing days were hardly high stress. Kids were not freaked out…stakes were not overwhelming. Teachers did not change how they taught in the weeks before the test. I wonder how our experiences can be so far apart?

Elizabeth

March 28th, 2012
9:22 pm

I AM fleeing. I made the decision tonight. I am retiring. I can’t fight any more.

Ron F.

March 28th, 2012
9:32 pm

Here’s one problem with the tests. You have a set of standards to teach, which realistically can’t be done to mastery in a typical school year. You’re taught to use a variety of teaching techniques, differentiation, and multiple forms of assessment so that all kids can demonstrate learning. Then comes the test. It varies in concentration from year to year as there’s no way to adequately assess all standards equally in one test, so you don’t know what the emphasis will be. The format of the test goes against every good teaching technique out there, with page after page of multiple-guess questions. What should, in theory, be a reliable and valid measure of learning just isn’t. I really think in the next few years, we need to look at the content and format of standardized tests and consider the possibility that there might be a better way to assess learning.

N. GA Teacher

March 28th, 2012
10:32 pm

I find it very sad that in many places in Georgia teachers have been reduced to script techs, and that the teacher evaluations are full of petty checkoffs that administrators feel that have to rigidly enforce. What this says is that the people at the State level that run public education do not trust the professional judgement, creativity and imagination of teachers. It is as though are praranoid that they have to defend public education by arguing that they have “set up a system everyone has to stick to”. I really do not understand why administrators follow the guidelines so blindly. Every administrator in a school KNOWS who the good teachers are, and this has very little to do with whether a standard is posted or if the teacher “demonstrates use of technology” or “connects the standard to the lesson”. Teacher quality has everything to do with a teacher’s love for kids, the dynamism of the teacher’s approach, the organizational skills of the teacher, and the personal and intellectual strengths of the teacher. Instead of “evaluating” the teacher as though he was a forklift, the administrator can assist by enforcing discipline, and confirming his faith and support of the teacher’s professional choices in the classroom.

The Deal

March 29th, 2012
12:14 am

Ron F., I agree. The tests, at least the CRCT, are not even good tests. They are not comprehensive, they do not require creative thought, and they are not a true test of ability. I disagree with those who say the tests are easy. I have helped our child with some practice questions, and the reading comprehension questions can be very tricky, to the point where I am not even sure of the right answer. There are too many test question tricks incorporated into the test, instead of a true test of comprehension or knowledge. I want to see if my child knows things, not if she is a good multiple-choice, trick-question test taker.

If these test scores were also paired with other more comprehensive, personal scorecards on the student’s work throughout the year, they might serve some purpose, but to base grade placement, gifted status, and other important things solely on bad tests is cheating many students out of better opportunities. It also makes students who are good learners but bad test takers feel very bad about their abilities and saps their confidence. I can’t really tell my child that the tests are bad or wrong or that they don’t matter because they do.

TimeOut

March 29th, 2012
12:50 am

GAE has not shown that it is able to support the teachers who have supported its continued existence.MACE has been able to beat back the wolves for a few teachers as of late. I’ve also observed the work of various labor unions that protect members’ jobs even when this conflicts with the commmunities’ best interests. While I understand that we need an organization that does not include our supervisors or evaluators, I also wish to be part of an organization that holds its members accountable as well as their employers. This is not readily apparent from the press of any of the available organizations. I have a colleague that could use some protection but could also use some ‘professional rehabilitation.’ She does need to improve. She does not deserve, however, to be thrown to the wolves as her administrator is attempting to do. I wonder if we could create professional oversight similar to the ABA and the AMA…………..difficult to do with a tax-supported profession? How could teachers create such a body given the differences between the teaching, legal, and medical professions?

Beverly Fraud

March 29th, 2012
1:15 am

How can GAE protect the rights of teachers at the same time it has to represent ADMINISTRATORS?

Isn’t that like a cow saying “No, I don’t think PETA is going to look after me; I think I’ll ask the National Cattle Ranchers Association to protect me”?

Moooo!

Truth in Moderation

March 29th, 2012
4:11 am

@Elizabeth
Come join the home school side. More and more talented teachers like you are joining the ranks as home school tutors. My child’s excellent Language Arts tutor (Speech and Debate) just finished up her PhD this week. She home schooled her now grown children and makes a nice income tutoring others’ children. Please take the time to read this http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/ and watch this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDyDtYy2I0M
Then you will understand what really happened to you, as Attentive Parent explained.

Former Teacher

March 29th, 2012
9:42 am

I am a former teacher (10 years public, 10 years private), and I am now working in the corporate world. I miss teaching dreadfully, but the lack of respect for my knowledge was too much to take. Friends of mine who teach for DCSD (DCSS?) were told yesterday that they would never earn an “exemplary” on their new evaluations no matter what. According to them, the assistant principal told them that DCSD has said for evaluators not to give anyone the highest rating, no matter what. When they asked the administrator what to do to improve, the administrator told them to “figure it out.” My boss now would NEVER say that. I would be given concrete examples of how to improve and coached throughout the process. I would also be given the highest rating if I had earned it. I am appalled at DCSD, and I am confirmed in my decision to leave teaching.

To Sneak Peek

March 29th, 2012
10:04 am

I understand and believe your examples but they are exceptions and not the rule. The average eight year old ahs the ability to tell time by looking at a piece of paper with hands pointing to numbers on a dial. The CRCT is an easy test AND the student doesn’t have to get a great deal of the answers right. Most of it is reading comprehension. Read a paragragh. The answers to teh questions are right in the paragraph. “Andy threw the red ball to Sally.”
Question: What color was the ball? red, blue, white, yellow. Pick one.
Children need to know how to comprehend what they read, not just be able to mouth the words.
I know why kids can’t pass this test. the teachers call “memorizing” as if they are reading.
Everyone knows how to teach a kid to read. I had to teach mine to read when the school failed to do it. Teach phonics just like the Electric Company and Sesame Street. Sound out the short vowels. Make short sentences. It’s easy. EVERYONE with an avearge or even a below average intelligence can learn to read and comprehend what they read by third grade and when they can’t the school system has failed. The teachers have failed. We need to stop teaching kids about drug-addict, Whitney Houston, during the month of February and instead teach the kids how to read. It’s that simple.
GM

irisheyes

March 29th, 2012
11:41 am

I shouldn’t do this because some people won’t ever be convinced, but here are some sample questions from the state’s practice website. The passages are considerably longer than the one sentence GM says, and they do ask some “higher-level” questions. I agree that they aren’t great, but that’s what you get with standardized tests.

http://www.feldwoodelementary.org/page2/page8/files/page8-3rdrdg-comprehension.pdf

Ron F.

March 29th, 2012
12:15 pm

Elizabeth: How sad that you ended up between a rock and a hard place. I don’t blame you one bit- I wouldn’t sign the evaluation either and I’d be retiring now if I could too. What a shame that the admin. you speak of has lost all common sense in favor of what “the county office” says. I miss the days when a principal was allowed to think and be human…those days are gone for good.