Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Tyler B., Nov 20, 2014.
Nov 21, 2014
"we agreed that teaching to the test isn't more effective in the long run"
I don't think any of us believe that teaching to the test is more effective than authentic learning with critical thinking BUT it is what many have to do to get the job done in the short amount of time they have and with the requirements from their districts and/or states.
Yes, and that if a student had several teachers in a row that taught for depth and understanding they would FAR outscore a student whose teachers only taught to the test.
Okay. I don't understand what you were disagreeing with.
That if we agree that if a student has teachers that teach for depth and understanding in say 1st and 2nd, that in 3rd those students would start to FAR outscore students whose teachers taught only to the test, our test scores and students would be better off.
And if my concern is keeping my job based on test scores, I'm going to test prep the kids to death, and let 4th grade teachers worry about their results in 4th grade. That's part of the reason why this high stakes environment is so toxic for children.
Me and Peregrin agreed that test prep did not outscore teaching for depth and understanding in a year, it was just far easier and less work.
I simply believe teaching for depth and understanding is more effective even in a given year, so I don't see that as effective Grade3. I agree many teachers may hae that attitude, but are not getting best test results as they could.
This is one of the critical reasons VAM and the current corporate reform movement is so destructive to education.
Let us all take a moment and mourn for the Minneapolis students and the teachers who work in their low income schools.
Again, if my only concern is a single test, then common sense dictates that I should do absolutely everything possible to teach towards that test. My reading should be the type of reading that will be on that test, the questions I ask should be the type that will be on the test, my expectations should be the type that will be on that test. My students should be so familiar with the format of the test, the questions on the test, and the type of expectations for the test that it is second nature.
Yeah, that's crappy teaching, and my kids wouldn't really learn much... but they'd do well on that test.
I think you're making the assumption that getting a good score on the test is the same as having a good mastery of the material. I do not see that as being accurate. I'd be a little surprised if the lowest reader in the grade test prepped his/her way into a perfect score or something like that, but if you tell me that a certain percentage of my kids must pass or I get fired, I'll go with the test prep. This is why the high-stakes environment is so toxic. It encourages this behavior. It actively discourages real teaching. Nobody does their best work under those types of conditions, and it's what leads to anxiety for kids. There is no educational benefit whatsoever to the high-stakes environment that currently exists. My kids spending about 30 full school days this year doing nothing but taking required school, district, and state tests will not benefit them. It will stress them out. Period.
Full article here > http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/12/...cal-association-issues-caution-on-use-of-vam/
Actually, this is quite far and nearly the opposite of what I think.
So then you're at least partially in agreement that using test scores to judge teachers in the way that Minneapolis and other places are using them is faulty?
My stance was never about this.
My stance was.
1. Are there teachers in low income schools that are making "best" teacher under this rating. I want to knowhow/what they do so differently tan the rest. That my first thought about these teachers, if they exist, is not they are cheating, unlevel playing field..etc it is that they may have something I could learn from them.
2. I absolutely believe that engaging in good literature, analyzing it, character development, themes, ethical choices..etc trumps mindless drill and kill, read one page, suface level test prep on state tests.
That using authentic, good literatura, good thinking skills, good academic vocabulary,lots of writing, can easily be bridged to any test format without mindless drill and kill.
I don't give a crap about learning from the teachers with the highest test scores. I want to learn from the teachers who consistently earn highest marks from a fellow educator in an evaluative situation. If there happens to be overlap between the two groups, then cool. I'd rather observe, for example, the classroom of Kim Cook (2012 teacher of the year at her school, ineffective rating due to the VAM coming from test scores of children she had NEVER MET), or Pascale Mauclair ("worst teacher in NYC" because she taught students who were new to the country, and got moved to a different classroom when they reached a certain proficiency level), than Lynne Buriel-McDill (6th best teacher in the state of Florida based on VAM based on the excellent reading scores of her students. Except... she's a high school math teacher).
Yeah, no thanks on the peer/admin evaluation. Talk about so many variables effecting that evaluation...I'll pass.
Edit: I will admit that this would be FAR easier and less stressful.
I meant an administrator more than a peer, but either way, I'd rather be judged by an educated adult rather than by a computer based on the work of 8 year olds.
What do all of these places have in common? They were battles where some of the bravest military forces were either defeated outright or had victory elude them.
While the battles were lost, nobody would ever dare to say that the soldiers and marines who fought in these battles were "incompetent" or "ineffective." Instead, we regard them as heroes and conferred upon them the respect that they rightfully deserve.
Inner city, high poverty, low performing schools are the Corregidors, Bastognes, and Khe Sanh's of education. The teachers who go to teach in those schools should be revered and supported. Instead they are blamed for failures that are far beyond their control.
My understanding is that the results are wildly inconsitant. So a "highly effective" teacher one year might rank as one of the least effective the following year. There are so many factors that affect student performance that are not under the teacher's control.
Nov 22, 2014
My original thought would be that you could equal the scores received by mastery teaching if you just taught to the test, and MAYBE in some cases outscore, but as you said, it would be much more difficult to get to that level. If you weren't moving at a good pace, you would probably likely score lower than those who were teaching to the test.
I was interested in this, and was trying to find research to back your claim that teaching to the test will always be worse than mastery learning. I couldn't find much empirical data yet, but I admit I only looked for about 5 minutes.
I did find this article: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/takach.356/mastery_learning_vs._teaching_to_the_test
where they mentioned that one school who taught using traditional curriculum methods outscored a school who taught using the mastery strategy. Whether or not that means one school taught to the test or not I do not know, and he makes it pretty clear in the article that he has no empirical data, and only speculation as to the disparity in the the scores.
Or in my case 5-year olds.
You do know that the formula that they use to calculate value added scores began with the formula they use for cattle breeding, right? It's a prediction of how the kid is going to turn out based on how they did in your class. There is more and more research coming out every day about how invalid that process is. When my scores are calculated (because technically they can't use value-added from K-2) no one can tell me what percentage of growth they are looking for or how it works. So even though I know what my scores were from last year, we still don't have our ratings from last year because those calculations have not been done yet-halfway into the new school year!
Very well-put Sarge.
Thanks Sarge, I teach at a high poverty school. We deal with a lot. Students in crisis daily, dealing with parents in crisis, behavior problems, and we carry on. In October we lost one of our best Math teachers. She quit. Teachers know that our test scores don't reflect who we are or what we are doing. We aren't giving up. Our Algebra 1 teacher will have great test scores because only the best of the best will take h class. Are we resentful? No, because the few gifted students we have are getting a chance to learn without all the disruptions. Today is Saturday and my Principal and two 8th grade teachers are working without pay to tutor students. Will their test scores show they are best teachers? No, they won't. All we can do is teach and we do.
New York's VAM score compares similar students. Each student has multiple identifiers such as poverty, ESL, special education, etc. Each student is compared to students with similar profiles meaning that a child in the class that had a 342 on last years math scores will be compared to all other students in the state that had that same math score and matching identifiers. So, they are not comparing a student who is ESL to one who is not ESL. The amount of progress is determined also taking into account attendance record. Then the progress of all of the student in the class that can be calculated (there are criteria that eliminate students who don't have enough data or who haven't been in the class long enough to count), and a percentage is calculated. That percentage is used to determine effectiveness.
The VAM took into account the arguments used (except no standardized test should ever be used). Only about 7% of the teachers are deemed ineffective because that requires the bulk of the class to not progress as much as other students in the state. In a school with high poverty and lots of kids way behind and failing state tests, it is possible for a teacher to be rated highly effective even only a very small percentage of the students pass the state test because it is comparison of progress.
Turns out. Teachers aren't satisfied with that either. Seems when the most vocal reasons for using tests scores was unfair were factored in to eliminate comparing unlike students, it still wasn't enough.
So if I go and list a bunch of battles where the severely outnumbered, undersupplied..etc won, we can call them the low income schools that overcame, and call this a thread right?
I am in no way putting down teachers at low income schools, I am trying to search out the underdog's that overcame.
Yeah, I doubt there is going to be much research, I admit, I should probably spend some time looking for it, but honestly, I son't need it. I see it happen in our school and district and it is probably more of a philosophy than a fact.
What I think bothers me, is all the people saying "oh, of course we want to teach for understanding, of course we love it, but we can't because of the test, test prep is better". If you really believe that one is more effective than the other...well....
I believe that if your sole focus is a score on a test, then test prep is the best way to meet that goal. Even if I'm wrong on that, there are uncountable numbers of administrators and teachers out there that DO believe so.
Therefore, I can safely say that forcing somebody to focus solely on a single test is harmful to our children, and should be discouraged, not doubled down.
Just like Admin giving you a way to enforce the rules by sending disruptive, combative, disrespectful etc etc students out of your room by writing a referral to only "penalize" you if you write more than someone else Can it be you really have an out of control room and it has nothing to do with your lack of classroom management skills???????
Teachers are damned if they do damned if they don't.
The reason they won't do it is because they can't count on their co-workers to either teach for understanding, step up and confront administration as a group, or doubt the ability of those they work with.
Reading threads like this makes me even more appreciative that I work in alternative ed. We are not driven, evaluated or stressed out by test scores. We can teach for understanding, critical thinking, etc. Yes, we have behavioral issues, but not more than at any urban, low income school.
What is great is that it is understood that we cannot be responsible for low test scores when we get students who have been out of school for longer periods, or are ditching classes, are sitting in ISS every day, and most importantly kids that we get during the school year (we get them continuously).
It is understood that we are not miracle workers when it comes to test scores.
So if any teachers out there are working at urban schools, low income schools, schools with extreme behavioral issues, but you still want to make a difference, get a job at an alternative ed. district and you will feel appreciated and no longer stressed out
I have to agree with this. My current school does not teach to the test -- we teach for depth and understanding. It is SUCH a relief, having come from the "teach to the test" environment. We still teach to standards and take standardized tests, but there is no high stakes pressure on teachers or students. Now, if only this weren't the "alternative," but the norm...
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