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View Diary: First Diary - and My Last Year as a Public School Teacher (127 comments)

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  •  Vastly oversimplified (31+ / 0-)
    The desired outcome of standardized testing is to supervise teaching effectiveness by measuring what students learn.  Simple.
    The concept, perhaps, but creating and evaluating a test is difficult and expensive.  We cannot operate under the assumption that all tests are valid.  Let me tell you, they are not.  Nor can we assume they measure what students learn.  It sounds neat and clean and convenient, but it is not reality.  Using standardized tests for teacher evaluation is junk science.  It's like evaluating dentists by how many cavities their patients have, while canceling their appointments for checkups.

    I don't think it's a conspiracy, per se, but I do think the testing deluge is motivated in part by for profit companies such as Pearson and ETS, and that there is an element of the reform effort that wants to privatize or voucher-ize (yes, I made that word up) public schools.

    When society has to choose between the interests of teachers and students
    When it HAS to?  You're assuming the only choice is either-or.  We're a society that is responsible to both.
    It doesn't matter how much experience a doctor has if her patients don't get better
    Because the doctor is the ONLY influencing factor on a patient's health, right?
    When teachers loose their job because there is no evidence their students are learning what the teacher is supposed to be teaching, it is a good thing for the student.  It opens space for a new teacher to come in using new teaching techniques and skills, and eventually society will hit upon a combination where students succeed.
    Sorry, no.  This is both naive and wrong.  On a number of levels.

    Your post doesn't make you sound like a jerk - it makes you sound like one of my college education profs, who were all theory and no street smarts.

    It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

    by gtnoah on Thu May 08, 2014 at 02:09:37 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Well, Okay then (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, Be Skeptical

      How can your street smarts be used to evaluate whether students are learning, or not learning, what they need to thrive economically and intellectually?  At least my professional theories are grounded in the scientific method - your street smarts are anecdotal and subjective.  If you can provide your theories (I mean "smarts") are better than mine, do proceed with your evidence and reasoning.  Otherwise, allow me to point out that your rejection of all testing because it isn't always perfect is laughable.  And harmful to children if we go there.

      God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

      by Liberal for Life on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:33:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good teaching is also grounded in science (11+ / 0-)

        and the science tells us the tests are not good measures of teacher effectiveness. Do some research. I'll give you a few names. Linda Darling Hammond. Diane Ravitch. David Berliner. Gerald Bracey.

      •  VAM is not good science (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tikkun, StrayCat, emal

        The American Statistical Association has also cautioned against using these tests to evaluate teachers.

        "ASA warns that VAMs are “complex statistical models” that require “high-level statistical expertise” and awareness of their “assumptions and possible limitations,” especially when they are used for high-stakes purposes as is now common. Few, if any, state education departments have the statistical expertise to use VAM models appropriately. In some states, like Florida, teachers have been rated based on the scores of students they never taught."

      •  There was a good system of evaluation in place (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gulfgal98, emal, DrSpike

        We have Principals.  They would come and visit our classroom a few times a year.  Watch us, give us feedback.  Educators evaluating educators.

        Doctors are certified by a board of doctors.  Police are evaluated by other police.  This might seem like a protective association to an outside observer, but the general public doesn't know how to teach, and can't measure anything outside the experience they have had with their own child.  

        A test can't measure what we do.  I'm sorry if that is frustrating, but it's just true.  Testing companies know this, but they are not going to attack their own bottom line by telling you this.

      •  PMFJI, no one advocated "rejecting all testing" (0+ / 0-)

        But two weeks of testing preceded by three weeks of "test prep" will not measure anything beyond a student's ability to regurgitate rote answers. I started kindergarten in 1945. Even in those days, we had standardized tests - a day or two a year - which pretty accurately revealed how much we had learned.

        This trend toward over-testing is not only a waste of public funds and our children's lives, but yet another insidious move toward the privatization of our essential services.

    •  Re (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal for Life
      It doesn't matter how much experience a doctor has if her patients don't get better

      Because the doctor is the ONLY influencing factor on a patient's health, right?

      It doesn't matter. A doctor who cannot heal patients is completely worthless, regardless of the reasons. They could be the nicest, most studious, hardest working doctor in the world. If patient outcomes don't improve, all of this is worthless.

      Same with teachers. Teachers are paid to turn "kids who can't do math" into "kids who can do math". If that can't be done (for whatever reason), it would be better to just spend the money on fixing potholes or whatever instead of expensive teacher salaries.

      Teachers, like everyone else, need to demonstrate their value proposition. "Can't do my job because too many obstacles in my way" usually translates into "fired" in the private sector. No reason it shouldn't be the same way in the public sector.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:52:54 PM PDT

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      •  As usual you make generalizations about things (11+ / 0-)

        you have no knowledge of. I want you to go tell the doctors who treat ALS, pancreatic cancer, and a thousand other incurable conditions, that they are completely worthless. Doctors don't actually cure most conditions, as most common conditions resolve without treatment. Any doctor will tell you this.There is nothing your doctor can do to cure the common cold, the flu, or viral pneumonia. What do you say to the teachers who work in special ed? Some of those kids will not be able to master math. BUt we try anyway, just like a good doctor tries to help, even though odds may be way against a cure. You really need to get off your high horse and spend some time with some real people, sparky. Expand your horizons. If teachers can't do their jobs, due to obstacles, they should not be fired. They should be listened to, as respected professionals. In fact, workers in general should be listened to. it's why we need unions. It's why union shops are more productive, pay better, and are much safer than nonunion shops.

        •  Well then the solution is obvious, just (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          don't work in special ed then.  Oh, and use every tactic you can to get the poorer students and those who are not well performing out of school, including working with police to entrap the students so they can be expelled and jailed.  Or perhaps even plant a bit of weed in their lockers yourself.

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

          by Throw The Bums Out on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:43:55 AM PDT

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      •  I was wondering when you'd show up. I think I'll (8+ / 0-)

        try another approach with you.

        How do you know the tests are both valid and relevant?  Can you show me the independent reviews that are being used to hold the testing companies accountable for the validity and relevancy of their products?

        YOU are spending a great deal of money on these tests.  How do you know you are getting your tax money's worth from the testing companies?  

        This year, the pricetag will be around $4.5 billion dollars.  

        What if the tests suck?  What if the data we're basing all of our decisions on is invalid and irrelevant?  Not only would that be a complete waste of BILLIONS of dollars, but also think of all the harm that it could do if we're reforming our school system based on crappy, meaningless data.

        Can you prove to me that the tests we are spending billions of dollars on are worth the paper they are written on?

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:58:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not to mention (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MHB, tikkun, StrayCat

          ...that the schools themselves don't even know how to interpret or appropriately use whatever results and data they're getting from the tests.

          •  With the Explore test we do get question level (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Liberal for Life, Be Skeptical

            data which is helpful and we get it within a month or so.  As a teacher, I support the Explore, Plan and ACT exams.  They are useful, transparent, and timely. The exams only take a couple of days, and they aren't disruptive.

            The week-long standardized, high stakes tests?  We don't even get the results until well into the Fall of the next year.  

            Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

            by bkamr on Fri May 09, 2014 at 03:48:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was thinking (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tikkun, bkamr

              mostly about the use of these tests to grade teachers on how well they're doing.   I noted in a comment above that the American Statistical Association has cautioned against using the tests in this way.  In some cases they found that schools were grading teachers work based on the test results of students they didn't have.

              But on what you're saying, I asked a teacher about results for one of my child's MCAS tests (Massachusetts) and she said she couldn't tell me anything.  She didn't have access to the test questions or my child's answer and could not say why she got the score that she did.

              •  That is somewhat true about the state standardized (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dicentra, pdxteacher, NWTerriD

                exams, but not the Explore and Plan tests in the ACT series.  The Explore and Plan have breakdowns by content/ skill and the students get these detailed reports back within 60 days.  

                The state standardized exams don't get returned until the following Fall!  And, teachers are supposed to even look at the questions ... while we are supposed to circulate upa dn down and all around the entire 6 days ... making sure none of the children are bubbling in the wrong sections of the exams ... while somehow not READING anything we are looking at.  If by chance we do accidently see a question, then we can not tell ANYONE anything or use the knowledge to inform any of our teaching -- or we could lose our licenses and/ or be thrown in jail.  So, your child's teacher was telling you exactly what she is/ was supposed to say.

                If you want to see Pearson's (or any of the other test companys' high stakes state tests), you can schedule time with the state board of education, drive there, relinquish any devices, may not take notes, and will have to sign a non-disclosure, to see the test your child took.

                Nice gig the testing companies have, isn't it?  To to the tune of $4.5 BILLION in tax dollars and NO ONE who is allowed to see their products is allowed to say one word about their products.

                So, were is their proof that their products are valid and/ or reliable?  Who is holding the testing companies accountable?

                No one.  That's who.

                Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                by bkamr on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:44:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you, mostly, except (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, fToRrEeEsSt, Joe Hill PDX, MHB

      for the part where you write you don't think the post makes them sound like a jerk.

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      by peregrine kate on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:17:13 PM PDT

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    •  It certainly IS a conspiracy. Test scores are used (12+ / 0-)

      to close public schools and fire the ( older, unionized, more expensive ) teachers and replace them with untrained temporary staff. The purposes of the tests are to generate profit for the testmakers and to erode confidence in public schools, with private ( charter ) schools to the rescue. The stuff about student achievement and teacher effectiveness is just window dressing to make the corporate agenda palatable. I mean, they can't just come out and SAY they want to get rid of public schools, they have to demonize them first, lest the people start to think the corporatists are full of shit. To get people to turn against the schools, you use tests, which poor kids will often do bad on. When schools start to improve their performance, you make the tests more obscure and harder ( base them on common core, for example ). This is far too organized a campaign to NOT be a planned conspiracy.

    •  Nice response! (0+ / 0-)

      Sorry I came in too late to rec.

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