Posted in Article Medleys, Common Core, Curmudgucation, Spellings, Testing, WhyTeachersQuit

2015 Medley #10

Defies Measurement, Teacher Shortages, Substitute Shortages, Sharing Responsibility, Spellings, PARCC, Common Core 

DEFIES MEASUREMENT

See “Defies Measurement”

Peter Greene at Curmudgucation dominates today’s medley. First he reviews a movie which you should watch. It’s online…it’s free…and it’s excellent. You can download it and share it with colleagues and friends.

Let me cut to the chase– I cannot recommend enough that you watch Defies Measurement, a new film by Shannon Puckett…

…Alan Stoskopf, Alfie Kohn, Anthony Cody, David Berliner, David Kirp, Diane Ravitch, Fred Abrams, Howard Gardner, Jason France, Joan Duvall-Flynn, Jordyn Schwartz, Julian Vasquez-Heilig, Karen Klein, Karran Harper-Royal, Ken Wesson, Linda Darling-Hammond, Mark Naison, Martin Malstron, Mercedes Scneider, Robert Crease, Susan Kovalik, and Tony Wagner.

WHY DO YOU TEACH?

With Fewer New Teachers, Why Do Some Stick Around?

NPR did an article about the looming teacher shortage. Then they did a follow up with quotes from teachers who were not at all surprised. I think they may have been surprised actually…

Finally, they posted a third installment — a piece about how there are still teachers who love to teach…

In 2012, The Gates Foundation (which supports NPR’s coverage of education) surveyed more than 10,000 public school teachers—to find out what factors were important in retaining good teachers. 68 percent said that supportive leadership was “absolutely essential.” Only 34 percent said the same about higher salaries.

Complete with quotes from teachers who love their jobs…

I stay because I love the kids. When I close the classroom door, and it’s just the kids and me, I see in them so much potential. They need people who believe in them, people who help them become the best person they can be.

TEACHER SHORTAGES-WHO WILL TEACH THE NEXT GENERATION?

Schools Nationwide Struggle with Substitute Teacher Shortage

Fewer and fewer college students are going into education. In addition, the shortage of substitutes will complicate the problem even more.

Not every “reformer” is out to kill the teaching profession, but the “reform” movement is playing into the hands of those who are. Fewer teachers means states will lower the qualifications to be a teacher in order to fill teaching positions.

In Indiana, for example, you can become a high school teacher if you have a degree, a B average and work experience in a field. You can start teaching with no “instructional expertise” and no training in “effective classroom assessment practices, analysis of student data, recognition of exceptional learners and modification of curriculum and instruction.”

This is a way to deprofessionalize the teaching profession…no more career teachers spending their lives at one school where they teach generations of students. No more messy worries about a teachers union as teacher-temps shuffle in and out every few years.

A frequent source of substitutes has been education majors looking for experience. But officials say fewer college students are choosing teaching as a career path, in part because of recent layoffs and concerns about new education standards, including efforts in some states to link teacher evaluations with student test scores.

“There have been so many stories about the quality of public education that many of us have conjectured that really impacted both students and their parents to say, `Why would I go into education and face all of that?'” said Jill Shedd, assistant dean for teacher education at Indiana University.

SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY

The Big Error of School Accountability

When will policy makers accept their share of responsibility for public education?

The authors have shifted totally from an inconvenient conversation about fair and equitable investment in children and communities—investment that is adequate and comparable regardless of a student’s zip code or skin color—to one about holding children and communities responsible for their own outcomes. Accountability is constructed on the principle of blame and consequences as leverage to move schools and kids forward (blame and consequences, it should be noted, entirely directed at the teachers and students, with no consequence whatsoever reserved for citizens outside the schoolhouse who may or may not provide adequate fiscal supports for schools and children). At the urging of testing advocates like the authors of this essay, educational improvement via punitive test-based policies has eclipsed humane concepts of shared assistance and support for hurting American children (particularly anything resembling the investment of tax receipts) as the “civil rights issue of our time.” Educational accountability is designed as a low-cost replacement for social responsibility.

SPELLINGS THINKS TESTING IS PROGRESS

Don’t Dilute the Progress That’s Been Made

Margaret Spellings, who was the George W. Bush’s second Secretary of Education (after Rod Paige), doubles down on No Child Left Behind. Her bio, when she was in office, suggested that she was qualified to lead the nation’s education system because she was “a mom.” Parents, of course, must have a voice in America’s education policy, but policy ought to be developed by those who understand the field. You wouldn’t hire a baker to run a legal firm simply because the baker had used legal services in the past. Education professionals ought to be in the front lines of determining education policy, but educators are rarely consulted or involved in state and federal policies.

Had Spellings ever been a K-12 public school teacher she would understand that standardized testing isn’t the be-all and end-all of keeping parents informed about their students’ progress.

As someone who was on the front lines of the deliberations on No Child Left Behind when it became law in 2002, I know that annual assessment data, required under the law, is critical to informing parents, teachers and the public about how all students are performing.

Spellings Remains Steadfastly Wrong

Peter Greene has a nice comeback. Just because you want something to be true doesn’t make it so.

…the standardized test does not become an accurate measure of a student’s entire life prospects just because you say so…

WHEN TEST SECURITY TRUMPS USEFULNESS

Pearson Proves PARCC Stinks

One last link to Peter Greene…

Testing has lost all meaning. We don’t use tests for informing instruction or helping parents understand how their children are progressing. They are simply a tool to label children, teachers, schools, and states. Once the label is secure, jockeying for profit can begin through legislation, “increased rigor,” and the buying and selling of schools. Test security protects investment. The true purpose of assessment has been lost.

The fact that product security trumps use of the product just raises this all to a super-kafka-esque level. It is more important that test security be maintained than it is that teachers and parents get any detailed and useful information from it.

COMMON CORE WAS DESIGNED TO CREATE FAILURE

Common Core does not work because it was never designed to work.

Simply shifting demands down by 1-2 years, with no regard for age/grade appropriateness, is producing the exact failure rates those in charge predicted. Of course in cases where the results do not meet predictions, cut scores are adjusted to guarantee the predicted rate of failure…

We are being told Common Core works from those outside the classroom walls. When do we start to listen to those that actually have to work with the lackluster standards and flawed state tests?

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The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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Author:

Retired after 35 years in public education.