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

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  •  Weird dynamic here - I don't get it (0+ / 0-)

    I think thou doth protest too much - is your outsized objection to measuring student achievement as a gauge of teacher effectiveness just an example of the old "kill the messenger" defense mechanism?  

    What is the solution here for identifying good and bad teachers?  I hear we at best should rely on the subjective judgments of principals.  How do parents know if their principal sucks?  How do we know they don't favor their friends over those who are different from them culturally?  Won't they just make judgments of teacher effectiveness based on their personal beliefs and professional opinions?  How do we know if they are wrong or right?  Where do outcomes come into play?

    Clearly, existing tests aren't perfect - some are good and some are bad.  Also, everybody knows many things factor into student success - factors within the family, within the community, and idiopathic to the students.  All need to be taken into account when measuring student achievement and linking it to teacher effectiveness.  We need to ensure all teachers receive the training and resources needed to be effective.

    Teachers better get with the program that the bottom line isn't that they're doing what they and their principal believes to be effective in teaching students.  All that matters is whether students are learning.  And society will hold them accountable in the long run, along with all the other players and forces that contribute or inhibit student success.

    Perhaps a more important discussion is how to properly address dysfunctional teaching systems in a way that is respectful and constructive for teachers whose students aren't learning.  I am hearing a lot of frustrated teachers wanting to quit the system as soon as possible, hanging on in a burned-out state.  I feel bad for them.  But I feel MORE bad for the students who are starting their lives without the basic education needed to thrive economically, socially, intellectually, and creatively.  

    I don't think we can reform our broken system of public education without measuring student achievement.  Measuring the right things accurately is a worthwhile question to explore, and let's reform those tests that have been proven to be awful .  Let's build the arsenal of evidence-based teaching strategies, such as the SAMHSA NREPP does for behavioral health interventions, and adopt them widely.  Let's retrain teachers who are identified as not able to increase their student's academic achievement.

    But please, if you are a teacher so bitter and burned out that you can't deal with the fact that, ultimately, your effectiveness won't be measured by what you do but by what you accomplish, then retire now, and make room for all those newly minted graduates looking for jobs in this horrible economy.  Yes, things have changed since the old days - which you remember fondly in spite of all the students failed in those days.  But if students aren't learning what you're teaching in your classroom, your inability to listen to feedback and respond with new teaching techniques is a disservice to youth no matter who you think is conspiring to make you change how you teach.

    And with this post, I hope to exit the field of educational advisor and wag.  I was hoping for a more enlightening exchange.  I work in the health services field, and we focus on outcomes.  I think people advocating for educational reform that includes achievement measurement are coming from where I am - we're not shills from Big TestCorp. Clearly, the KOS elementary/industrial complex (kidding) is strong and thinks measuring outcomes can't be done.  

    You've killed this particular messenger.  You proven that you can deconstruct standardized testing until the cows come home, and not learn or change a thing.  

    Good for you!  

    For students and society at large who expect demonstrable results - not so much.

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

    by Liberal for Life on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:47:55 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  OK. You have a lot of strong opinions (5+ / 0-)

      and I get the impression you generally mistrust teachers and schools.  

      I don't know you at all, so can you tel me how you are connected to education?  If you are a part of the profession with some inside knowledge and experience, I'm just curious as to what angle you're coming from.  

      If you're not in the profession, or haven't spent any significant time in a classroom, there's no way you could know whether testing is effective or not.  There's no way for you to even know how to measure learning.

      I generally avoid exchanges like this, but since I am leaving after next week, allow me to be completely honest.

      For the record, quotes like this one:

      Teachers better get with the program that the bottom line isn't that they're doing what they and their principal believes to be effective in teaching students.  All that matters is whether students are learning.  And society will hold them accountable in the long run, along with all the other players and forces that contribute or inhibit student success.
      are a major reason I'm leaving the profession.  since you seem to have all the answers about how to positively improve education, teaching and learning, get your certificate and get in a classroom.

      Seriously.  You teach them.  Then you'll discover how uninformed you really are.

      •  P.S. There's an opening at my school (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        travelerxxx, FindingMyVoice, NWTerriD

        I'll put in a good word for you.

      •  Kinder and gentler post (0+ / 0-)

        I don't mistrust teachers or schools - I was married to a teacher for many years, greatly respect the profession and value learning above most other pursuits.  I work in the field of professional development for health services providers, and my perspective is that we monitor closely the effectiveness of training events through pre- and post-tests and subjective evaluations.  It is vital the learning is achieved because lives are at stake.  I insist that curricula include the appropriate measurable learning objectives, something a shocking number of educators weren't trained to do but can learn with some training.  I realize that it isn't the same as teaching in elementary or secondary schools, but there are similarities.  

        I never claimed to have all the answers, so frankly that is a straw man argument.  There are plenty of unemployed certified teachers looking for work right now, so you don't have to demand I walk in your shoes in order to voice an opinion on public education standards.  Plenty of people are pro-reform and ready to take up your challenge to "Seriously.  You teach them."  Quit, and they will.

        But I am not so arrogant as to think your frustration at outsiders who dare question your effectiveness through trying to measure student achievement isn't based on some really dysfunctional dynamics within the current system, and your hurt is genuine and justified.  The law of unintended consequences reigns strongly here, and until we get it right we'll get it wrong.  

        I'm just saying we need to measure student achievement, and use that as a primary factor in measuring teacher effectiveness.  How that so infuriates teachers surprises me, but that it infuriates so many reveals a lot below the surface that probably isn't really about the tests - things you allude to I would know about if I were part of the system.  The problems below the surface should be identified and fixed.  Even the tests can be fixed.  But teachers who are indignant about having their performance scrutinized, and threaten to pick up their toys and go home if they are displeased, are another problem altogether - probably not fixable.

        Happy retirement - sincerely.  I'm sure you've impacted the lives of thousands of students in positive ways, and people like you are an asset to society.  And sorry the standardized tests haven't gone down as intended - the road forward isn't always smooth and devoid of missteps and detours, but we need to keep advancing nevertheless.

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

        by Liberal for Life on Fri May 09, 2014 at 01:59:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Kinder and Gentler, but no less condescending (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          emal, travelerxxx

          "I work in the field of professional development for health services providers, and my perspective is that we monitor closely the effectiveness of training events through pre- and post-tests and subjective evaluations."

          Health care is a mess.  I don't believe your professional development is up to snuff.  I need you to justify to me why you shouldn't be evaluated with outside measures (I'll design them) and patient outcomes.  Scratch that.  Health care professional better get their act together before the public holds them accountable in the future.

          "Plenty of people are pro-reform and ready to take up your challenge to "Seriously.  You teach them."  Quit, and they will"

          You know this how, exactly? The teacher shortage is looming.  We can't even find enough subs right now.  

          Your kinder, gentler post then tells the diarist this:

          "But teachers who are indignant about having their performance scrutinized, and threaten to pick up their toys and go home if they are displeased, are another problem altogether - probably not fixable."

          Pure condescension.  Complete arrogance.  

          I was wrong in my post above, and you were right.  You really do sound like a jerk.

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

          by gtnoah on Fri May 09, 2014 at 02:52:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sigh (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bobtmn

            Healthcare IS a mess, especially for the poor and under privileged.  That is why we educate providers to address health disparities more effectively, AND HOLD OURSELVES ACCOUNTABLE TO THE OUTCOMES of our trainings through participant achievement testing.

            Public education is also a mess, especially for the poor and under privileged.  That is why you should be willing to hold teachers, principals, and everyone involved in education accountable to educational outcomes through student achievement assessment. Yet strangely you don't do that.

            You present no constructive alternatives for society to ensure that our children are properly educated in the public schools.  Just defensive vitriol.  Then you end your comment with personal insults all because I expect your teaching to produce measurable changes in student performance.

            Yeah - I'm an arrogant jerk and you're a terrific teacher.  Believe that.  And when students don't succeed in your classroom, believe something is wrong with them, their families, or their communities. Or the test is flawed. Don't look within, and don't change a thing. You're fine.  Everybody else is the problem - especially those outsiders.  That's not arrogant at all.

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

            by Liberal for Life on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:24:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Soooo... YOU get to hold YOURSELVES accountable (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              emal, NWTerriD

              But principals, districts and teachers can't be trusted to do the same thing.

              Secret for you: we already held ourselves accountable.  Just not to your arbitrary, uninformed, out of touch idea of how it should be done.

              Don't particularly care if you think you know better.  Keep on being "liberal" for life! (In between sighs)

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

              by gtnoah on Fri May 09, 2014 at 07:13:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Demonstrated objectives (0+ / 0-)

          One of the big problems is that most state curricula and most textbooks in use are written without defined behavioral objectives - i.e. what behavior will indicate to the teacher that the student has mastered the lesson? As a matter of fact, many of the textbooks and teachers' guides that I've seen are in bad condition and out of date.

          If the lesson plans, textbooks and test were coordinated so that the skills objectives were taught and demonstrated as a matter of course, the outcome would be much better and there would be no need for the extensive prepping that takes place in so many schools today. But up-to-date texts would cost money. Would they cost as much as the tests?

    •  To Liberal for Life (0+ / 0-)

      You wrote: "I was hoping for a more enlightening exchange", but the evidence tells me you were hoping for a debate. Over and over, you responded to other contributors as if they had assumed positions in exact opposition to yours (i.e. "no testing at all" versus "all testing is good").

      That's the trouble with so much public dialogue these days - it consists of people debating their entrenched views - not discussing, not learning from each other - just trying to "win".

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