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View Diary: A Worm in the Apple: How Corruption Can Rot Any School (49 comments)

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  •  A tricky question, one that may need another diary (10+ / 0-)

    Answering that question will take more room than I have comment space.  But I'll give a basic overview of issues I see:

    1.  Use state tests that evaluate what you are looking for.  if you want math students who can use the skills they have in the real world, design tests that require more than basic calculation.  If the test focuses on "can they add, subtract, multiply and divide decimals", you're forcing me to focus on that too, even though a future boss can buy a 99-cent calculator that will do the same thing faster.  If you want them to problem-solve, you need a test that evaluates that.

    2. Evaluate long-term, not just on one day.  A one-day math test tells a misleading story if the child's grandfather died that morning (and yes, that has happened before).  If all you know about this student's math mastery is one single data point, you know nothing about this student.  I evaluate this student every day in dozens of different ways: I can usually tell you before the student opens the test what the score will be, even if he or she is having an off-day.

    3. Take multiple forms of assessment into account.  A good administrator doesn't simply look at test scores to evaluate a teacher.  They look at student grades, comments from parents and teachers and students, lesson plans, how I work with a whole class, how I work one-on-one, curriculum development, the dynamics of my classroom population, professional development, how I collaborate with fellow teachers, records of parent communication...all of these are part of my job, and the time I spend in front of a class is minuscule compared to the time I spend behind the scenes, making sure the time I spend teaching is the best I can make it.

    4. Recognize that I ultimately do not control test scores.  As I tell my students, education is not a spectator sport.  The best teacher in the world can teach nothing to a student who isn't ready to learn.  If you believe that I can't make you learn, you're absolutely right.  We need to consider that some students, for whatever reason (bias against women, traumatic abuse, lack of food or shelter, etc), are not ready to learn and stop punishing teachers for not accomplishing the impossible.  Actually, we need to protect the kids first, so that they are ready to learn.  

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