Low Achieving Students=Easy Testing Gains?!?!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Newb, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. Newb

    Newb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0

    Apr 23, 2015

    This is something I keep hearing from my principal and her son, who has the top test scores in our school and teaches honors classes. They say I should be grateful to have the lowest achieving kids in our school all day long because it should make my value added scores look awesome at the end of the year.

    Is this true? After I've spent 2 out of the last 3 years working with 9th graders who come in reading at about a 3rd or 4th grade reading level and are ranked in the bottom 3% on their state tests, I don't see how it could be. Mine just won't do any work (especially anything involving reading) and don't care about grades or school at all, so I'm not sure how I'm supposed to get them anywhere.

    Maybe I'm just incompetent. Have others had different experiences? What did you do to make them grow?

    I could potentially lose my job if these kids don't show great improvement.
     
  2.  
  3. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2013
    Messages:
    324
    Likes Received:
    92

    Apr 23, 2015

    Think of the bright side, there is no possible way for their scores to be lower. The only way is up.
    It depends on the laws in your state. If it's gauged just off of mastery, then yeah, you've got trouble, but if there's something in the laws that are looking at student gains, then you're golden.
    That's actually why I'm in the top 10% of teachers in my district of over 7,000 teachers, it's because my kids always come in low and from there, there's only one direction I can go.

    Top students don't always perform their best, and might fail a test, but a low student will more than likely show improvements.
     
  4. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2

    Apr 23, 2015

    To your first point, your students have the highest potential for improvement since they are scoring the lowest. Therefore, it is possible for them to improve significantly, whereas students that are already performing very well have little room for improvement. I believe this is where the value added scores come in.

    Regarding your students not doing any work or caring about school, try finding out what their interests are, and then try to integrate these interests in a lesson. Are there any TV shows, movies, or music that they like? If so, try starting out a lesson with a clip from one of these sources to grab their attention. They might not see the relevance or benefit of your class to their lives, so by connecting them to media they consume almost every day, they might show more interest.

    I don't know exactly what you're teaching and what your school environment is like, so this is partial speculation.
     
  5. Newb

    Newb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0

    Apr 23, 2015

    I teach 9th grade English. My kids came in reading on a 3rd or 4th level and have scored in the bottom 3% in the state, usually in multiple subjects.

    I'm in a very rural, isolated school with extreme poverty and a toxic culture. We have almost no technological resources and our library is a joke. Over half our kids don't have computers or internet at home, so cool tech stuff is a non-starter. The largest local "industries" are welfare/disability, drugs, prostitution, and minimum wage service industry jobs.

    I try my best to tie things into stuff I know they're into, but if it interests 4 of them then the other 14 don't care and will start misbehaving or talking over the lesson they don't personally care about. That's just how it goes.

    Our state has a value added system where the state projects that each students will grow a certain amount each year. Individual teachers are graded off whether kids meet or exceed those expectations, while the school is graded primarily on whether they pass the test itself, so keeping my job depends on both.

    I get that they have the highest *potential* room for improvement on paper, but do teachers see students this low actually showing huge gains on a consistent basis? Mine are so far behind their peers that they can't even read their textbooks and won't try in any class. I have to wonder that if they can grow so much, why haven't they done so in previous years?
     
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,320
    Likes Received:
    499

    Apr 23, 2015

    On the surface, this makes sense, your kids can achieve greater gains than someone already at the top. However in practice, it doesn't work out that way. The testing results show that "all the bad teachers are in the poor schools". Poor kids just don't test well for so many reasons out of control of the teacher.

    You are a hero in my book. It's really exhausting to work with children in such conditions. I did it for 10 years and switched to a very high income school. It really made me angry when our principal would tell us that our school scored "exceptional" again because of the staff. I never worked harder in my life than when I was at that low income school, and never had high scores. Suddenly I was a good teacher.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    Apr 23, 2015

    I think the Principal's son should volunteer to switch classes with you for a few years.

    People like him should step up and put his money where his mouth is.
     
  8. msgab

    msgab Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2015
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Apr 23, 2015

    Kids who have experienced failure in school for so long struggle to be engaged. As a special educator for 18 years, I feel your pain. These kids need something different. Find out what they DO like and meet them where they are at. The testing isn't going to matter to these students so it is irrelevant. Find their purpose and then give them an authentic reason to read so they can improve and will be more motivated. Daniel Pink's work on motivation comes to mind; autonomy, mastery, purpose.
     
  9. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,162
    Likes Received:
    1,763

    Apr 23, 2015

    :clap:

    My thoughts exactly.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    6,714
    Likes Received:
    1,685

    Apr 24, 2015

    Complete hijack of this thread...why is the Principal's son allowed to teach in the same school?
     
  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    3,224
    Likes Received:
    147

    Apr 24, 2015

    It's common here where districts are small. We have one building k-6 and one building 7-12. We've had a lot of relatives work together. Our entire 9-12 math department was a husband and wife team for many years.

    As to the main question, I've found while my low achieving students grew a lot, some still didn't hit their targets. It's hard to grow that much in one year.
     
  12. Newb

    Newb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2012
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0

    Apr 24, 2015

    He was hired to teach at this school a year before she was transferred in.

    He's actually a friend of mine, but even though he and our principal deny it, he does get tons of special treatment and backing on stuff that no other teacher would ever get.

    For example, he's the only teacher in our entire school who gets "Honors" classes and if a kid causes him any kind of trouble, that kid gets switched to another class by the end of the day.

    He's also the standard by which we are all measured as far as testing.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. hazaratbet,
  2. SaraFirst
Total: 372 (members: 2, guests: 341, robots: 29)
test