241 teachers fired!

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Southern JC, Jul 23, 2010.

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  1. Southern JC

    Southern JC Companion

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    I just read a very short article(http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_dc_schools_teachers) about 241 teachers in the D.C. public schools that were fired due to a new evaluation system. :( Even though the article doesn't give a lot of details, this is very alarming.

    About 90 teachers were fired due to problems with their license, but others were fired because of low test scores. I teach a subject-testing area and I do my best to go above and beyond preparing my students. What the students with the information and skills I have taught them is out of my hands at that point.

    Is it fair for a teacher to be fired because of low test scores? Do the students share in the responsibility? :confused:

    On testing day, we have students that come to school late and they are still allowed to take the test. We have students that tell us before they take the test that they are going to put "B" for every answer. I've seen some of them do this in less than five minutes on a four hour test! Some have even said "I'm not worried about passing. :eek:hmy:

    I do believe that teachers should be evaluated. Effective teachers should be rewarded; ineffective teachers should be reprimanded. How do you determine who's effective and who's not? Firing teachers soley on test scores is absurd!
     
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  3. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    It's like firing a dentist because 70% of his clients had cavities last year because he works in a low ses community where brushing your teeth takes a backseat to other things. A dentist can only do so much to educate his clients on proper brushing techniques and how often.
     
  4. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    I absolutely positively love this analogy. :love::hugs:
     
  5. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    I hadn't heard about this... I feel like this whole school year I heard about all the ones that they fired at the beginning of the year to budget shortfalls, then later it came out that someone "miscalculated" and there was a big uproar about it. It's sad... I'm so happy I don't work directly in DC. I think those teachers must be some of the patient people in the world!
     
  6. Southern JC

    Southern JC Companion

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    I do too. I'm sure I'll be using it.:p
     
  7. Southern JC

    Southern JC Companion

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    Yea they must be, but even patient people can only take so much.:( My heart goes out to them.
     
  8. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    There's a more in-depth, detailed article in the WaPo. From what I read, it was not just based on test scores, but on IMPACT, the new employee evaluation system.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/23/AR2010072303093.html

    This will be very interesting to follow. I've heard that some administrators did not follow the correct procedures, so hopefully the central office made sure those who fired had complete evaluations. I'm not sure they were ready for the whole story to come out today. Apparently, they invited the media on "background," but the two organizations (WAMU and the Examiner) who showed up didn't realize that and broke the story with the numbers this morning. I guess DCPS only wanted to give the media some background, not have them print the numbers today.
     
  9. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Was this IMPACT evaluation new this year?
    I would think that there should be a probationary status before dismissal.
     
  10. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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  11. Irissa

    Irissa Cohort

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    You've got to remember DC's Super has it out for teachers.
     
  12. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    I'm a little bit tired of this whole "schools should be run as businesses" perspective. Teaching is not the same as meeting sales or production goals.
     
  13. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    I always use an analogy about a doctor and his patient.(Great minds think alike :)? or I just got lucky to think like you!) If your doctor determines you have a disease and you need to do x, y and z to get better, it is not a reflection of his abilities as a physician if you do not follow the prescription exactly and remain ill. Further, teaching is not a science, put in a, b and c and get d, e and f. It can use certain principles to aid the opportunity for success, but it is no guarantee or predictor of success. Many things are not quantifiable in the equation. It is pitiful that these people are being evaluated by test scores or by student achievement.
    Look to see if a teacher is doing the job? Yes. Look to see if children are participating? Yes. Use a test as a guideline? Fair enough. Using the test as the only indicator? No. Completely lacks wisdom.
    People are too reactive. If someone can not read, call the legislature and have them make a policy to be enacted in a blanket way. We are in the people business. We are not manufacturing furniture. We are educating people as we find them, not as a standard declares they should be. We are aware that some teachers do not do a quality job. They are the vast minority. It is the P's job to monitor that and do something about it.
    If we as Americans do not employ common sense and require our legislators to do the same, many of us as teachers will find ourselves unfairly unemployed.
    OK, off my soapbox. These are my personal opinions.
     
  14. ms.

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    What's sad is that many teachers are scared away from teaching in schools with low test scores.
     
  15. bonnjer

    bonnjer Rookie

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    I'm wondering where they'll get enough teachers to replace all of the ones fired. That's a lot to replace at one time.
     
  16. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Isn't this the model that Obama is looking at for his new education reformation policy? I think he loves the lady whose dept. probably did took this action. My prediction is; the tip of the iceburg...
     
  17. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    This morning I caught the story on the morning news... apparently about 500 had a "minimally effective performance", which means they will be fired if they don't improve this year. I really think the DC chancellor hates her teachers.
     
  18. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Business can return defective product to the supplier ... we can't.
     
  19. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    :rofl:
     
  20. KinderCowgirl

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    I was actually in the dentist's chair last week thinking about that analogy-I don't have dental insurance so I go pretty much every two years-kind of like the kids that miss a lot of school-you can't teach them if they don't come.

    I'm torn on this. I do think evaluation systems need to change because too many teachers are just sliding by every year working bell-to-bell and really not teaching kids. I don't agree with JUST using test scores-but it is the only objective standardized measure available. Principal observations, grades, parent evaluations-all much more subjective. There are teachers at my school where staff would rather send their kids to another campus, than put their personal child in that class. Kids aren't learning anything with them, and if they get 2 bad teachers in a row-imagine how behind they will be.

    I really think Rhee is just trying to change a failing system-our new super has a similar attitude-put an effective teacher/principal in every classroom. I do think that's a good place to start. Their test scores really didn't improve this year-so I knew there would be changes. I don't know how they do it, but we compare the child's score from last year to their score this year-even if they are struggling-there should still be some growth, right? If it lights a fire under teachers who previously said "it's really hard to fire a teacher" (actually said at my school) because their jobs are actually on the line that will benefit the kids in the long run.
     
  21. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    I am all for getting rid of ineffective teachers. I wish my district would get rid of some of the dead weight.
    That said-I hate using test scores as a means of evaluation. In our building, the best teachers always take the toughest/lowest kids. ESL students/SPED students are clustered. This eval system punished teachers going the extra mile. We also move kids around a lot sending them to this room for reading or somewhere else for math. Are we still going to be willing to do this or will every teacher only teach her students.
    Not to mention my job, I am an interventionist for the lowest ESL students-they are not going to pass at 78%. If the students are higher preforming they go to the other ESL teacher or stay in their classrooms all day. Maybe I should start pulling kids out of their rooms who don't need it so my scores will look better and I can keep my job!! (I wouldn't actually ever do this). My point is if you don't know how schools actually work-you aren't in a position to evaluate them.
     
  22. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    This will spread across the country. It's already happening in my area, they are just more low-key with it.

    Many talented and great teachers will continue to leave the field.
     
  23. Chalk

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    241 out of 4 thousand?

    That is 6% or so of the total teacher staff.

    If a school with 100 teachers fired 6 poor teachers would you be as up in arms?

    Further, DC school system is one of our nations most lack luster (according to the books anyway) and all the soft touch changes made in the past have not been very productive. Perhaps she feels its time to put the fear of "job"-lessness into the minds of those who don't put forth the effort?

    On the flip side, we know that students learn best when they have an intrinsic reason to learn. Lossing ones job is an extrinsic motivator, perhaps the worst teachers need to be retrained to find an intrinsic reason to teach well?

    And what if the other 737 teachers...
     
  24. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I don't completely disagree with you chalk... I do disagree with basing such a decision SOLELY on test scores, but in general, as someone that was only able to get a half time teaching job, I'm all about getting rid of ineffective teachers!

    I do take issue with [though that wording seems harsher than intended, that's the best I could come up with] the idea that teachers can be "retrained" to be intrinsically motivated. I really don't think anyone can be trained to be intrinsically motivated. They could be encouraged, I suppose... but it simply can't come from outside of themselves... hence the IN in intrinsic.
     
  25. schoolteacher

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    Exactly. These kind of tactics will encourage actions that are not in the best interests of children, including your example above, as well as teaching to the test, inflating test scores, giving "hints" during the test, in addition to many other strategies to pad scores and make individual teachers look more effective. I have personally witnessed these kinds of tactics in schools where teachers have felt pressured to raise scores at any cost.
     
  26. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    I do have a problem with 6% being fired if they are only evaluated on their students' test scores. To me, that is the issue, not the number/percentage. I look around my own school. I regularly deal with most of the population. I regularly speak with them about their classes, content and teachers. I also look at the classes in action. I can honestly say that there was 1 teacher that needed to be let go because of classroom inefficiency and ineffective instruction. Possibly she could have been trained to do a better job, goodness knows interventions were made by peers and admin, but to no avail) but definitely not at my school. She was not renewed. However, she would not comprise even close to 6%. (I could not tell you if her classes scores were low, but she was a team teacher, so I'm not entirely sure how that could be fairly gauged anyway.)

    So, the bigger question is how can a teacher be fairly and consistently evaluated without looking at test scores.


    I don't dispute that things can be overblown in reporting, it is just I disagree with the the practice of teacher assessment through student scores.
     
  27. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I guess I am just sick of the whole mess. I am sick of hearing about how teachers should and should not be paid by non-teachers. I am sick of hearing about how all of these teachers should just be fired. I am sick of hearing about getting rid of unions (when there are a lot of places in this country where there is no union for teachers). I am sick of hearing about testing. These are the things that make me want go out and find another career because I am just so tired of it all. Plus, I am sick and tired of having to or feeling like I have to defend myself and my profession to others...even to some of my own family members...how sad is that? Sorry for the vent.
     
  28. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Aw Emily! :hugs: I agree we only ever hear the bad things on the news!

    I have a problem with boiling it down to strictly statistics. Every district is different. Maybe they hired teachers more leniently than they should have, maybe there are just more in that area that are weak teachers, less training. I was trying to figure it out and I think we had about 15% of teachers who were put in that category this year-not fired this year, but on a growth plan (6 out of 40 or so). We had less teachers in the above average category than the unacceptable. Will there be more in the higher category next year because of this new policy, people who decide to put in more than the minimum-that will remain to be seen?

    I agree there will be people who resort to cheating in order to keep their jobs-but I don't think that will be the norm. Our test scores effect our overall school rating, it effects funding-we get merit pay if our school improves overall (everyone on the staff)-if people year after year are not showing any growth with their kids (comparing the same student one year to the next, not class to class), how long should we keep them on?
     
  29. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    I have seen blatant cheating firsthand, it disgusts me. I've seen friends "take care of" other friends, as in they cover up the cheating. I would guess that at least 10% of the writing assessments (at least in the state I am thinking of) have been written w/ the help of a teacher. I saw this as a volunteer, and I never signed a privacy waiver.

    Even as a HS student I saw my school admin. cheat on the state writing tests, it was so outrageous they got caught. (They took the special needs class on a field trip one year. They were all marked absent, due to illness. The state caught onto that pretty quick.:rolleyes:)

    This creates a nasty cycle. It causes the ethical schools/teachers to look worse, as the state averages are falsely raised.
     
  30. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Cheating is only one of the many problems that result from this approach to accountability.

    Another problem is that of education becoming a realm where only testable things are taught. If you speak to students, if you look to your own experience as a student, the most effective and influential teachers were those who gave something of themselves in one form or another. If I inspire a student to study more carefully, that may or may not reflect itself on a standardized test. If I inspire a student to read outside of school subjects, again it may not show up. If I put in extra hours to help my class have a fun, science experiment, they may learn the intended outcome, but it may not show up on the test. If this persists, teaching to the test will continue.

    Just read a book that reminds us that we need to teach kids to go beyond assembling facts and to learn to think critically. That will go by the wayside should the current climate persist.

    Like EB, I weary of the nonsense. Educators should educate. Legislators should legislate.

    Whether you teach reading by sight, by phonics, by whole language, by modeling or whatever, the bottom line is that kids need to be able to read and comprehend. If you read the site here, you see that students doing homework is a problem. When you were a kid, was homework optional? My parents listened to me read all the time. My grandparents did the same. When people came to visit, my parents had us read books to them. (OK, not as bad as the proverbial home movies, but almost :lol:) My point is that like it or not, part of education takes place in the home. So, if a kid doesn't score well, do we then fire the parents as well? I submit that a P should be able to determine from observation, from evaluations and from the grades of the children balanced with the scores the effectiveness of the PROGRAM rather than the effectiveness of the teacher.


    Sorry to ramble, but this topic just burns me up.
     
  31. chicagoturtle

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    Yes and I noticed Donors Choose, who I otherwise love has been promoting a movie called "Waiting For Superman" and she is featured in the preview.

    I think DC and many areas of Chicago probably have many similarities. Our former CEO is also now with Obama in Chicago, so I think we've had a preview here of what's to come. I worked in some impoverished schools for 4 years and taught a grade without testing, but part of the reason I left for a magnet school was because I was worried about being "turned around" and not able to find a job again.
     
  32. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I think Michelle Rhee is a visionary but has taken on too much too fast. Then again big changes need to happen in DC. She's also fired a bunch of principals so it's not like she's out to get teachers. Read her biography. It's very interesting. I won't say I fully agree with all her decisions, but she sure doesn't shy away from making hard decisions.
    And to be accurate, these teachers weren't just fired based on test scores. They were also based on a rubric with multiple observations from the principal and expert educators.
    On the flip side I wonder what type of professional development and support the district offers. I know they have a large professional development department but don't know how it is rolled out to teachers.
     
  33. missalli

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    I primarily teach low-performing kids -- EL, SpecEd and those who just haven't caught on. God only knows what would happen to me if the district decided to start using the kids' STAR test to determine my pay or my position or whatnot.

    The problem is that everyone's looking for a quick fix. If there's a problem, it's just a matter of implementing the right program or spending $X on a new fad or hiring the right consultant. Politicians want to use test scores to determine the fate of teachers, students and schools because test scores are quantifiable, something they're able to wrap their minds around even if they haven't been in a classroom in decades.
     
  34. krysmorgsu

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    I read an additional article about it in the Washington Post. Kat53 is right - the teachers were fired based on test scores and 5 observations with a new rubric. Interestingly enough, the article also mentioned that the union had recently agreed to a contract with a 21% pay increase and bonuses, that also removed the securities of tenure. Makes me think...duh, didn't you guys think something would be coming down the pike? No offense, but by getting rid of job security through tenure, the union basically opened the door to this. I'm not saying tenure is right or wrong, but that part certainly got my attention.

    In any event, the new rubric for observations never went through a trial period or anything. Personally, I think the district jumped the gun. Yes, we need to remove ineffective teachers. However, test scores are much more than a teacher's effectiveness. If the rubric had never been tried before, and was as complex as some of the interviewed teachers suggested, then is it really fair to fire all these teachers? I personally think that before such grand steps were taken, the rubric should have been tried out, and the teachers should have been trained. What's more, I feel that, since the system is so new, they should have really given more teachers a chance. 700 some were "at risk" - in otherwords, shape up or find a new job after next year. Since this system was never tried before, shouldn't they have given all the teachers that chance? Furthermore, I sincerely hope that the ones who are on probation next year are given aid in their effort to improve: workshops and additional training, mentoring, etc. I hope they give those poor people support, rather than simply just telling them, improve or be fired.
     
  35. FourSquare

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    THANK YOU. Geez.

    THE EVALUATIONS WEREN'T BASED 100% ON TEST SCORES.

    Stop blindly buying into what the media's trying to sell you. Of course they're only reporting on testing. That sells newspapers! Reporting on THE OTHER FIFTY PERCENT of the evaluation would be really boring and practical.

    Edit: The IMPACT system has been available on the web for quite some time. If I can find the rubrics and understand them as someone who's never been an educator anywhere, let alone in D.C., I have a hard time believing teachers didn't understand what was expected of them. Rhee's been talking about this system for YEARS. I would have been brushing up my act as soon as she got hired.
     
  36. Joyful!

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    OK, I can retract my objection to this particular story. You are correct. I did not read any of the articles myself, so I bought into what was said here. However, the evaluations are still STRONGLY based in the testing. I still have a problem with the amount of weight testing is given. It is my opinion, so everyone is entitled to differ with me. I see grave danger ahead for schools, as well as a shift in the philosophy of education in this country if we do not reduce our dependence upon test scores as evaluative standards.
     
  37. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I hear you on the testing, I'm just frustrated as well because I feel like complaining about testing will get us nowhere, and we certainly don't help ourselves as teachers by being misinformed. Michelle Rhee didn't invent high-stakes testing. If anything, she's created a framework that looks at the aspects of teaching that don't encompass testing.

    WE MUST HAVE A COMMON LANGUAGE FOR "GOOD TEACHING." If we don't, people will continue to judge what you do ONLY on "data."

    http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/In+the+Clas...sessment)/IMPACT+Guidebooks/IMPACT+Guidebooks

    Read the "Teaching" rubric. It covers things like....

    *Are you writing actual lesson plans, or winging it every day?
    *Are your lesson plans culturally relevant to your students?
    *Are you checking for understanding during lessons?
    *Are you setting reasonable goals for your class?
    *Are you differentiating for multiple learning styles?
    *Are students engaged, raising their hands, etc.?
    *Can students tell anyone who walks in the room what they're learning about?

    This is just what I gathered from a brief skim and I don't feel like the expectations are unreasonable. Generally (not always) if these things are happening, YOUR SCORES WILL GO UP ANYWAY.

    There are exceptions to this, and those exceptions are noted in the evaluation, particularly for Special Education teachers.
     
  38. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    With our new system the teacher's required prof. dev. is based on the weaknesses identified in their evaluation. If you are scoring low in classroom management, then that's what you have to attend. All the pd offered by the district is also going to be free to schools so P's are no longer able to say they can't afford it with their budgets.

    I really don't think anyone just wants to fire teachers-it's in their best interests to train them as opposed to going through the whole process of hiring new ones. However, I'm just not so sure it's fair to put those kids through another year with that teacher-would you want your child with someone on a growth plan? I actually think it's more fair to fire someone because of low performance than just because they misappropriated the school budget-which many across the country are dealing with right now. Get someone in there who will actually teach!

    I love Michelle Rhee. I remember reading an article about her and how she comes into schools daily and talks to the kids about what they are learning. I would probably have a panic attack if she walked into my room, but I don't envy her job at all. I truly think she wants to change things and isn't afraid of the confrontations it's going to take to do that.
     
  39. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    And there are well over 700 other teachers in danger right? If they have 4000 teachers then that's a little under 25% of all teachers there in danger of being fired.
    And other teachers support this (without details from each teacher, student, or parent, etc) wow.
     
  40. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    50% is far too much weight to place on test scores, especially in a low SES area. I think 30% would be reasonable, IF AND ONLY if the measurement was not passing/not passing, but growth.

    Some other issues I have, after reading the links that were posted here, and several other articles on the subject:

    1) While there was to be multiple formal evaluations, those evaluations either did not happen, or were rushed and at the last minute.

    2) 5% of the teacher's scores are based on the entire school's performance. One of the articles compared this to telling your students that 5% of their grades depended on the performance of the whole class. That doesn't make any sense, and neither does judging an individual teacher on the performance of the whole school.

    3) There was no pilot program before implementing it school wide. There should have been at least a year of figuring out who would be effected by this program, and then follow up study regarding whether or not these teachers really were ineffective, or simply doing the best job they can with under-prepared, unmotivated students.

    This is a very sensitive subject for me. As you see, by most "guidelines" I am a bad teacher. I taught the poorest of the poor. I taught recent immigrants who were not even literate in their own languages. I taught students who'd never stepped foot inside a classroom until they moved to the US. My students had parents who cared, but did not have the resources to help their children. I had students who's parents cared more about their next high than their kids. Some of my students went home and cared for younger siblings and were so exhausted by the time those siblings were put to bed, that they couldn't adequately focus on their own work.

    Yet, every year, while many of my students failed the state test, they all showed improvement from the year before. For example: One year, I was ecstatic that my 7th graders were performing on a 6th grade level. I really wanted to give them a party! Sure, they were a year behind, but those same students, while in 6th grade, on the same evaluation, performed on an average mid-4th grade level. They improved 2 whole grade levels in a single year. Yet, I am a bad teacher.
     
  41. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jul 25, 2010

    While I haven't read all of the rubrics- I agree with you on all of these accounts. Unless you've taught in an environment like the inner city, I think it would be more difficult to understand. I applaud you for having 2 years of growth in your students.

    I also worry measures like these are going to bring testing down further and further. Kindergarten already has DIBIELS- I'm just waiting for the day they come in and tell me that my non-verbal three year olds (I teach pre-k SPED) will be taking a standardized test upon their exit and my job will depend on it. For some of my kids getting them POTTY TRAINED is a two year goal- but you can't really measure that on a test!
     
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