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View Diary: Warnings From The Trenches (188 comments)

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  •  A dissenting opinion. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm of the opinion that while language skills are important, the proper solution to the problem is to emphasize them as their own separate topic and NOT to muddy the ability to grade separate topics separately.  Yes, NCLB is a stupid way to do things in general.  But what you're advocating is to give someone a bad MATH grade because of skills that aren't math.  And to give someone a bad HISTORY grade for skills that aren't history, and so on.  

    Do you think it would be right to go the other way around and say, "Well, since STEM subjects are so important, let's make knowledge of math and science necessary to do well at a creative writing class?   Here, as part of your English writing test, write an essay on how the quadratic equation works and why it works like it does.  Oh, I'm sorry ... your English skills are great in this essay and your writing is top notch, but you still got the facts of the quadratic equation wrong so I'll mark down your score on this ENGLISH test for the fact that you're bad at math.  After all, math is important so we have to emphasize it in other subjects too."

    A test in subject A should try as hard as possible to be testing only for knowledge about subject A and not also subject B.  If subject B is very important, then the solution is NOT to falsify the data abut how good the student is at subject A by mixing subject B into the testing of A.  The solution is to test B as well as A independently.

    Its just the basic simple experiment design principle about separating the variables in your tests.  If you're testing for two different things at the same time, don't publish the results as if you were just testing for one of them.  It's not honest.

    If you create a situation in which student A who is better at history than student B gets a lower grade for history than student B because student B is better at writing skills, then your test is not really a history test and the data of the test results is not telling the truth.

    •  Most tests necessarily constructed of words (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CA wildwoman, JanL, lazybum

      and therefore inevitably function first as a reading test.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 03:13:07 PM PST

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    •  you are attributing to me positions I do not hold (5+ / 0-)

      please do not do that

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 03:21:14 PM PST

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      •  This is the logical conclusion of what you said. (0+ / 0-)

        You advocated the idea that someone should be marked down for poor english on a test that isn't testing the subject of english.

        •  actually I did no such thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp, captainlaser

          I simply noted that quality writing - which is essential in the social studies - is ignored in the scoring of the test and thus to prepare my students for the test in a sense I have to teach them to write badly.  To be more specific, it is a waste of time to write a topic sentence or a conclusion, both of which are considered part of good social studies writing (independent of what is done is English) because no credit is given for them in scoring the free response question, and thus students are wasting time in writing them.  Now, I had students who did so fluently as part of their writing process, but others struggled to craft the topic sentence and that hurt them because they would run out of time before hitting all the points on the rubric.

          I will also note that in talking to college professors of Government -  and there were a number of them who like me were scoring those responses - it was almost unanimous that they would mark down essays on their tests that were not properly organized - for them you needed clear statements of the topic and proper conclusions.  Thus the writing being done on that AP test was NOT appropriate preparation for college-level work.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 03:42:19 AM PST

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          •  Or in scientific writing. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            teacherken

            See below.

            Even in science courses, you need to be able to express yourself coherently.  And if you are going to do science for a living, you need to know how to read and write.

            My "Global Warming" seminar is less about Global Warming than it is about scientific literacy and being an intelligent citizen.  I warn my non-science students that in three years, they will be sitting in a suit behind a Congressman and whispering advice in his ear at a Congressional hearing.  They better know more science than the average American.

            We will never be free from fear as long as we fear the NRA.

            by captainlaser on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 07:56:49 PM PST

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    •  In my High school (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, CA wildwoman, JanL, lazybum, claude, lgmcp

      Every classroom had a sign that said "every class is an English class."  

      Courtesy of FB, a bunch of us middle aged folks who've gone our separate ways for 30+ years are back in touch. We all remember those signs, and we all recognize the value that approach has had for us in our lives.

      •  in my life, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, lgmcp

        every moment has a sign flashing "This is a learning experience!!"

        Education and learning merely start in school,  where one is supposed to learn how to learn.

        Of course,  many of us have made a lifetime's living doing things for people who are very good at only one thing and think that's all they need.

        don't always believe what you think

        by claude on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 08:03:39 AM PST

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    •  What is history about if not writing and reading? (7+ / 0-)

      After all, history is a story. AP Government

      Every teacher should ideally be a teacher of reading and writing, except maybe the math teacher (and even they can do a little) and science and social studies can be incorporated in English as well. The separation of subjects as though everything has it's little compartment is huge problem.

      As an English/Reading teacher, I teach science and history all the time still and I expect those teachers to expect critical thinking, reading, and writing to be of some importance, ideally. Common Core seems to be helping with that, as imperfect as it is.

      •  The problem is that the grades (0+ / 0-)

        don't actually deal with this notion that the subjects are not separable.  The grading system CLAIMS to be scoring the students in different subjects.  If as you say this is impossible, then stop grading as if it was.  Give one overall summary grade instead of itemizing it by subject.

        •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

          The grade from one class to another can still be different even if the standards are the same (as they will be in Common Core - history now has the same standards as I do in English, just different content; math is still different, but everything else is following the literacy standards for now and Science and SS will still do so later, though I believe some elective standards are coming).

          What a student does in one class and how they react to content may differ - a student may demonstrate more understanding of the standards in one place or another. Some students can perform to standards in all subject areas and topics and settings, and some can perform differently in one class or another.

          I agree that grading is an imperfect system (plenty still depends on the teacher, and, in theory, it shouldn't). But there's nothing to say that the subjects can't use literacy standards.

    •  Ok, so how do you test writings skills using (0+ / 0-)

      either a multiple choice test or computer grading software (which is already crippled due to the fact that computers can't read cursive writing worth a damn at all)?  Answer: you can't so they won't do it.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 06:52:41 PM PST

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      •  That is an argument against using (0+ / 0-)

        multiple choice to grade English skills.  An argument I'd agree with.

        That is NOT an argument that has anything to do with what I was talking about, which was allowing English skills to be a reason to mark someone down on OTHER tests in other subjects, a practice that essentially falsifies the accuracy of a person's grade at some other subject.

        •  you are assuming those are English skills (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b

          they are not - they are essential skills for writing in the social studies

          the ability to clearly organize and present ideas is essential in social studies

          it is, by the way, why some of my students told m they learned more about writing well in my class than they did in some of their English classes

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 03:44:02 AM PST

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    •  What constitutes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, lgmcp

      being "better" at history? Being able to recite facts? How can you assess someone's understanding of history if he can't develop ideas and argue them in an organized and coherent manner?

      We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

      by denise b on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:35:13 PM PST

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      •  please respond to what I actually said. (0+ / 0-)

        instead of an argument I never made.

        •  gee, isn't that how I responded to you? (0+ / 0-)

          you seem to be quite inconsistent in what you are posting on this thread.

          as a result I think I will not take further time to respond to you.  Fire awah

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 03:45:08 AM PST

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      •  The emphasis on facts (0+ / 0-)

        is a crucial part of the reform debate in education. E.D. Hirsch, began his movement for reform because, as with so many college educators, a significant number of his incoming students lacked basic knowledge:

        http://www.questia.com/...

        The particular incident that shook Hirsch to his intellectual foundations was the assignment of a passage on Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House... "The community college people could not read it, because they had no idea who Lee was, who Grant was, what the context was - and in Richmond, Virginia!"

        Parents, university teachers, and community members have worked over the past decades to establish more emphasis on factual knowledge because so many high school graduates in the United States seem to lack it.

    •  If you wrote about the quadratic equation, (0+ / 0-)

      and your essay was all wrong about the quadratic equation, you would get poor grades for your argumentation, and rightfully so--- writing isn't just about the style, it's also about the content.  

      And vice versa.  Ask John Kerry or Al Gore how important it is to deliver the content properly, not just to deliver it.

      Each field has its own conventions of what is proper for content delivery, and those conventions are taught and checked in writing assignments.  The writing IS part of the subject, in every subject it's in.  There's no point separating it out, because there is nothing to separate.

      Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

      by nominalize on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 10:37:08 PM PST

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      •  Whoosh you missed the point. (0+ / 0-)

        the point is that in my example this WASN'T a math class.  Giving a student a poorer grade on an English skills test based on the fact that that student isn't very good at what was taught in math class is falsifying that student's record.  Because the grade the student got will say this:

        English: C

        as opposed to what it would say if it was honest which would be this:

        Average of English and Math: C

        I would assume this would be pretty straightforward and clear.  So why is it acceptable to go the other way around and downgrade people in other subjects for poor writing skills when there's already a separate grade for that?

        Any argument of the form "but you can't really measure the skills separately though!  It's not possible to really do that." must also be accompanied by the statement "And I therefore do not think it is right to issue grades in the subjects separately" in order to get sympathy from me.

        As long as the report card is claiming the skills are judged separately (which it implicitly IS doing), then it had better be telling the truth about that or else the system of grading has to be changed to reflect reality if what it currently is claiming it is doing isn't actually possible.

        •  It goes in the other direction, too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp

          which was my point, that you missed completely.  Writing non-fiction in a composition class includes a heavy rhetoric part, and that includes starting with true points, and arguing based upon them.

          Getting the math right is part of the skill if you're writing about math.  It'd be like writing an essay on the history of aviation and starting off with a beautiful sentence describing how Amelia Earhart invented the airplane, and that's why aviation took off in America.   You'd lose points for arguing from faulty premises.

          As long as the report card is claiming the skills are judged separately (which it implicitly IS doing)
          Well, no, it isn't, and if there is any implication that it is, it's because you have added it.  Part of chemistry is expressing yourself like a chemist.  Part of history is expressing yourself like a historian.  And so forth.  

          Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

          by nominalize on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 05:28:27 AM PST

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