Here's How to Get Great Teachers to Poor Schools

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Tyler B., Nov 20, 2014.

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  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    The Minneapolis superintendent of schools posted all their teachers VAM scores in the newspaper so the "bad" teachers could be shamed into doing their jobs.

    A big surprise, the "worst" teachers were nearly all in the low income schools.

    If I were a teacher looking for work, I'd stay away from a district that showed such behavior. I imagine this will be true of the most qualified candidates looking for work. Also, in view of the public shaming, who would take a job in a high-poverty school?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

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    Yeah, until this VAM garbage is through forever, I wouldn't consider working in a low-income school. It's frustrating that something statisticians more or less universally consider junk science is being used for evaluative purposes.
     
  4. Pashtun

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    Is there any "best" teachers in low income schools?

    And if so, what do you think of them?
     
  5. gr3teacher

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    There are plenty of wonderful teachers in low-income schools, but you generally won't see that if you only look at test scores to determine good/bad teachers.
     
  6. Pashtun

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    My question is, are there any "best" teachers according to their evalutation system that teach in low income schools? and if so, what are your thoughts on that?

    By wonderful and best, I am refferring to effective at their craft.
     
  7. Go Blue!

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    I'm sure there are, but some teachers who are GREAT at their craft are being negatively evaluated due to poor test scores. I guess the question is: can you be considered a great/effective teacher if the test scores say otherwise?

    At my school, the person that teaches the advanced, upper-level math courses is a great teacher - everyone at my school would agree. His test scores also "prove" this, but he only teaches our smarter/better behaved/more motivated students. Admin allows him to "voice his opinion" on what he wants to teach each year and he never has to teach Algebra, Geometry or Stats/Trig.

    Now, one of our HS English teachers is also highly regarded as a great teacher, maybe even better than the first because she has really good relationships with the kids and they respect her much more. She teaches her butt off and this has been recognized by Admin and other PTB, but her test scores are not very good with many of her students not passing the English HSA on their first try - which is a district-wide problem.

    I believe that she is highly effective at her craft despite what the test scores show and I'm 100% positive that if she was teaching somewhere else; she would have MUCH better scores. But, according to her kids' test scores, she - like many HS English teachers in my district - is a below-average teacher.

    Also, we've talked about this and it is very discouraging for her because she's working her tail off, but her pass rates are never great. At times, it makes her want to leave the district for greener pastures.
     
  8. Pashtun

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    My point is GO Blue, is that we blow off the "best" teacher in low income schools. If they exist, why do we seem to blow them off and go straight to the long commentary you just wrote?

    I would really like to know if "best" teachers exist in the low income schools that this article was talking about.
     
  9. gr3teacher

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    Here's my thoughts on this question... if a teacher with access to a huge, expansive book room has 90% of their kiddos make a full year's reading growth, while another teacher with access to no books whatsoever other than non-engaging anthologies has 90% of their kids make 80% of a year's growth, which one is the better teacher?

    Or alternately, if 100% of my kiddos are well-fed, well-clothed, and have active, engaged parents, and 100% of them make a full year's growth, while most of your kids get two meals a day, tops, rely on handouts for clothes, and have parents mostly absent due to trying to make ends meet, and all of your kids make half a year's growth... which of us is a better teacher?

    You can't compare apples to oranges, but that's exactly what this system is doing. And it's judging them harshly, and publishing their name for all to see in the process.
     
  10. Go Blue!

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    I don't blow them off; I work with them every day and acknowledge their efforts because, to me, effective teaching is more than test scores.

    My point is that if best is going to be defined only by test scores, then we have to look beyond these scores to see what the "best" teachers are teaching and if they are on the same "playing field" as the "worst." If not, it is not a fair comparison and should not be used to shame the "bad" teachers.
     
  11. Pashtun

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    So, am I understanding you correctly.

    You do not believe that you can look at teachers in low income schools becasue there is too much variability? Or are you refferring still to all income levels?

    What about looking at teacher ratings at the same or similar low income schools? Would you be able to do this?
     
  12. Pashtun

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    Thank you GO BLue, that is what I am getting at. But do you ntice how we are dodging that very question? I am asking about teachers getting "best" ratings under very similar "playing fields". I just notice how many teachers go instinctively to low income versus high income, but don't really know(myself) or do not want to talk about ratings on the same "playing field".

    I believe most teachers go into defensive mode if a teacher in a low income school gets a "best" rating and really doesn't want to believe they are doing something more effective that it MUST be an unlevel playing field.
     
  13. gr3teacher

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    Using test scores for judging teachers is junk science, and is subject to huge variance from year to year. I'm already mentally preparing myself to be a "bad teacher" this year because of my EOY test scores. But ignoring that, if somebody is going to do so despite the evidence showing unreliability, then yes, teachers should be compared to teachers in similar situations.
     
  14. Pashtun

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    So, if you look at teachers in similar situations, and certain teachers being rated "best", what are your thoughts regarding this? What if certain teachers in similar situations are being rated"best" year to year compared to most others who are not. What are your thoughts on this?

    Are you saying it is invalid? If I understand you correctly, I think you are saying that this data can simply never be accurate. You would never see certain teachers rated "best" and others in similar situations rated "worst" and it would have any validity. Is this correct?
     
  15. gr3teacher

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    If you took data for a long period of time from two teachers in similar situations, you'd eventually be able to make valid comparisons between teachers... assuming you also continued to track the progress of students after leaving the class. In any type of short-term basis though... no, I don't believe there is any way to fairly judge teachers based on test scores.
     
  16. Pashtun

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    Ok, so if teachers from similar situations over longer peroids of time are showing rated "best", what are your thoughts on this?
     
  17. gr3teacher

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    Then they're the best. What exactly are you trying to get at here? That's not what's happening in this situation.
     
  18. Pashtun

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    That many don't WANT this situation. That it took 15 posts to say this, that the entire slant of this topic is that it is not, cannot, will not happen.

    That if teachers are, can, will, have, done it, we should be looking more closely at them and what they are doing, than 3 pages of "playing field" conversations.

    So much energy goes into debunking anyone that does do it or propping up those who don't, and so little goes into those who do do it, "what the f are they doing, I want into that persons inner circle of thinking."
     
  19. gr3teacher

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    I want teachers to be compared fairly. Using test scores in the way they are being used is not fair. No method of teacher comparisons I've seen uses... say... eight years worth of classes, plus six classes worth of data from two years in the future (six years of data from my third graders as fifth graders, as an example). It's all based on one year, or two years, and no distinction is made here for the teachers that get great results because they are awesome teachers, and the teachers that get great results because they have mastered the art of teaching to the test.

    It's also discounting the good things done by PE teachers, music teachers, art teachers, band teachers... etc. Just as an example here... the JANITORS in Washington DC, until recently, were evaluated largely on the basis of the reading scores of the school. I mean... really?
     
  20. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    In regard to the OP, that IS really sad. I started my teaching career mid-year in one of the lowest-income school districts in a major city, and if my district published a list like that, I'm sure my name would've been on it. We received very little sympathy for our lack of resources, lack of parent support, and behavior problems. There were some VERY good teachers whose brains I would love to pick, but for all of their success, there was a lot of staff turnover purely from the emotional stress that comes with poverty. Most people who want to become teachers don't envision themselves breaking up fights, dealing with kids' emotional trauma from being exposed to crime or dysfunctional home lives, paying for the majority of their students' school supplies because the poverty level forbids you from asking parents... the list goes on.

    A "best teachers" list would be amazing. I think everyone would support that. I also don't think people are saying it's impossible to teach well in a low-income district... but it's made much more difficult with a list meant to shame "bad" teachers. :\
     
  21. Pashtun

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    My point made.
     
  22. gr3teacher

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    ...? Your point is made because I'm ****** over a list being made like this, rather than a potentially fair list?
     
  23. Pashtun

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    My POV on this is that most/many teachers would not want a "best" teacher list based on ratings. That most would spend most of their energy debunking it and so few asking what are they doing better than me.

    I am not talking about "teaching well" I am talking about "teaching well" according to the rating system.
     
  24. Pashtun

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    Because fair list doesn't, won't, hasn't ever existed.
     
  25. gr3teacher

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    Based off only a year or two of test data... well, no. No it won't ever exist.
     
  26. vateacher757

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    According to the rating system adn where and type of kids you teach the probability of being rated as teaching well is slim.

    Your rating is based on test scores...you have students who christmas tree their test, leave most blank, don't care etc etc why should their test scores determine if I am a good teacher....it doesn't....it is not fair.

    I am sure in some places because of this teachers are passing kids regardless.....why should they allow something thye have no control over cause them to lose their job or not get a raise.

    That whole evaluation process is ridiculous!!!!!
     
  27. Pashtun

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    OK, so how do you know if a teacher is effective? How do you qualify someone as a great teacher?

    And yes, I have no doubt what so ever that there are teachers who lack character and pass kids regardless.
     
  28. Peregrin5

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    I'm sure you can make the "best" teacher list even if you work at a poor school if you give students the answers to the questions before hand and teach to the test. I know first hand that most of the teachers I know who have achieved "high scores" in low-income schools teach using just these methods and are lauded for it.
     
  29. Pashtun

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    So you know personally that teachers are cheating?
    You reported this correct?

    Yes, I do realize that many teachers believe the best way to get test scores is to teach to the test, this is poor teaching and is sad imo.
     
  30. Go Blue!

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    I've had this conversation about "teaching to the test" with my Admin last year. So, let me ask you...

    Lets say you teach HS World History (I have no idea what you teach, but I am assuming it is not HS) in a school where it is a semester course. You have 90 days to cover everything from 1066 AD to the post-WWII era. The district's HS History assessment is a 75 to 100 question multiple choice test with 3 ERCs. The test is not in any chronological or thematic order and it is truly a fact and retention test. It does not ask students to think critically or analyze outside of the ECRS. Also, teachers have no access to the test until the week they have to give it. Knowing your evaluation and ultimately your job could be on the line, what would you do/how would you teach this course?

    I use a daily PPT-notes-followed-by-review-questions system since I know that I can hit as much information as possible this way. I could spend more time doing projects, novel-studies, having the kids put on skits and all of the other "fun/engaging" things I did when I taught MS Social Studies and there was no district assessment. BUT, I also understand that I am here to teach the material that will be assessed by the district in January and in June and to get as many students to pass as possible. THAT is my job, clearly outlined by Admin and the district.

    You ALWAYS make it sound like teaching to the test is done solely due to choices made by bad/lazy teachers, but let's acknowledge that other circumstances MIGHT be forcing teachers to teach this way.

    Maybe your job security is so strong that you don't worry if your kids can name the Pope who put Galileo on trial during the CR because they are learning “bigger ideas” and how to analyze and think critically. Maybe you don't care if they pass the assessment because they are learning more valuable skills. Some teachers do not have this luxury.
     
  31. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I was told a story recently about two sets of students. One set was taught all of the standards for that year, but not in depth. The other set was taught some of the standards, a lot more in depth. After the year was complete, both sets of students were give then the same end of year assessment. Do you know who did better? Not the set that was exposed to all the standards. The students that were taught more in depth could think critically, even on topics that they were not taught, and come up with the right answer.

    I agree that 'bad' teachers are not necessarily those that have the lowest test scores, just like not all 'good' teachers have the highest. To base evaluations on a set of test scores that are given on one day out of the entire school year, to me, is ridiculous, especially if test scores are just looked at in terms of pass/fail and not based off progress from previous years.
     
  32. Pashtun

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    I would always teach for meaning and depth, I would never just cover material...period.
     
  33. CindyBlue

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    "I was told a story recently about two sets of students. One set was taught all of the standards for that year, but not in depth. The other set was taught some of the standards, a lot more in depth. After the year was complete, both sets of students were give then the same end of year assessment. Do you know who did better? Not the set that was exposed to all the standards. The students that were taught more in depth could think critically, even on topics that they were not taught, and come up with the right answer."

    This is a statement that really set me to thinking. I agree with it in theory, but in reality...
    What about, for example, a science (or math) class, where you need to know facts and procedures before you can use them to "think critically"? You can be a very competent critical thinker but if you don't know anything about moles or zygotes (or derivatives or integrals), then you can't think critically about them and use them to come up with the right answer. It's that kind of pressure I think that so many teachers are feeling when they "teach to the test." Since those standards are on the test, then you (the teacher) had better give kids the most information you can to give them the chance to do well on the test. The rest of the "in depth" activities go out the window because there's simply no time.
    I know that I'd rather give my kids lots more time to absorb the concepts, and play with those concepts, and use them to make connections, but there's no time. If my kids don't score well on zygotes because I used the time to explore moles, then all the administration sees is that my kids didn't score well on zygotes. They don't see how well they know moles, and how well they can relate moles to other areas, etc.
    I am getting more and more frustrated by the emphasis on tests. I understand the need for standards, but do there have to be so many? Can't we have less of them to learn, to give teachers and kids more time to explore with the ones we have? (I know, which standards are less important so we can/will leave off the list??? sigh...)
     
  34. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I agree with you Cindy. I didn't read the study so I don't know how they covered concepts in science and math that had facts/procedures of prior knowledge that needed to be learned. I do know that in the state of Texas, they have moved the math standards down so that now every math teacher has to cram in more standards to make sure that the students get everything they need.
     
  35. Peregrin5

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    It's not my responsibility to report teachers for teaching to the test. At that school, it wasn't against the rules. Also it was my Master teacher so yes I knew it happened personally.
     
  36. Pashtun

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    I was referring to the part where you said the teachers gave the students the answers to the test.
     
  37. missrebecca

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    I think this was a reference to teaching to the test. As in, the teacher knew what was on the test and talked about it beforehand, but didn't necessarily tell the kids to bubble in A, B, C...

    At my old school, everyone was allowed to do that, and it was expected. This really goes back to the admin and school district, who need good test scores to receive funding.
     
  38. vateacher757

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    Very, very well said.....this same scenario plays out here in VA as well....currently I am an assistant in classes and they happen to be History or Govt classes...2 are semester courses and it is taught bam, bam, bam....the goal is to get them the information that you "think" will be on the test and that they can pass it.

    The pace of the class is extremely fast giving not much time for actual discussion.

    Here in VA Govt is a required course to graduate but there is no state exam with it so what I am seeing is that the goal is to get every senior in your class to pass the course by any means necessary.

    Now I love history and I will be adding that endorsement to my license and I tell myself I will NOT be that type of teacher.
     
  39. Pashtun

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    Yeah I guess.

    This is just a different philosophy I guess, I simply do not beleive that teaching to the test is more effective than authentic learning with critical thinking....etc.
     
  40. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    We had this conversation before, and we agreed that teaching to the test isn't more effective in the long run. But it is effective for now, for that day the test is given, for the year that the teacher is required to get results, which is why people resort to it.
     
  41. Pashtun

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    No we did not. I have alsways said I believe teaching for depth and understanding trumps teaching to the test.

    We agreed that if the same student had teachers each year that taught for depth and understanding they would FAR out score having teachers that only taught to the test.
     
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