Merit Pay Did Not Raise Test Scores-Hmmm.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Read this article yesterday-talks about merit pay not encouraging teachers to raise test scores. In my opinion-duh.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/DN-meritpay_04tex.ART.State.Edition2.4b96aa0.html

    We actually participated in this-and I can't say it made me teach any better knowing that if my student's made the gains expected I would get a small bonus. I think the good teachers are already doing everything they can and the not-so-good teachers often somehow pull out high test scores anyway-even if it's just because all they do is teach the test. I really don't like how the article even says teachers were expected to "push" for higher test scores and they chose schools who were already doing well to participate.

    Anyway, thought it was interesting.
     
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  3. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I think "Duh" too. Hope some politicians pay attention to this.
     
  4. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    A simple way to raise student achievement.

    # of HS seniors who go to four year colleges goes up = school board can run for re-election.

    # of HS seniors who go to four year colleges goes down = school board cannot run for re-election.

    Let's place accountability on those who REALLY have their hands on the controls.
     
  5. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    BTW, at my school, we stopped teaching science and social studies in grades K-3 because those grades don't get tested in those subjects.
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I am shaking my head in disbelief. :dizzy:
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Too many school have adopted that appproach, Sarge, which I find very sad...and stupid, of course.
     
  8. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Um...that's not good.:confused::dizzy::confused:
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Talk about teaching to the test! If there were an emoticon for nausea, I'd throw that in. The closest I can find is :banghead:.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Ceasing to teach science and social studies in K-3 because they don't get tested is wildly counterproductive. When are kids supposed to get the vocabulary and background knowledge they'll need to have already when those subjects do start getting tested? And what will they do in the meantime if a passage on the test happens (as it will) to involve a topic having to do with science or social studies?
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    In addition, the way to reach many of our lower or reluctant students is through science and social studies topics. I have had many students who refused to pick up a book in English, but would devour books about Ancient Egypt during Social Studies periods.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Absolutely, MrsC.
     
  13. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I completely agree with that statement as well. However, our administration pretty much only sees things in terms of numbers and data. When reading scores are low, sacrifice what's not being tested to spend more time teaching reading. The 1st time our Science TAKS was ever given (I think about 8 years ago) schools across the board failed miserably. I was working at a pretty prestigious school at the time and they had only 48% of kids pass-no one was actually teaching science. We have a Science Lab for 45 minutes once a week and most teachers at our school think that's enough.

    It's the same with schools taking away the arts or recess and having hours of "Math Camp" every day for the weeks before the test. Our 2nd-5th Grade teachers were told not to use novel studies a few years back, so the kids' reading instruction comes from passages all day every day and use their strategies ad nauseum for comprehension. Kids just cannot learn vocabulary that way and I would hate reading too.
     
  14. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Ughrrrr, I can't stand it! Think of the kind of grown-ups we are growing. Not Good.
     
  15. Ross

    Ross Comrade

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    Without math and science, what kind of jobs will these kids have available one day? What will the manufacturing industry be like?

    What do the good people of California have to say about their children being denied this education?
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Depends on who you ask, Ross. I have a number of theories about what's at play here; taken together, they'd scorch the ears of all parties.
     
  17. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    My principal in San Fran was quoted in the Chronicle as saying there is not enough time in the day for science. Article is here.

    Of course, I was the middle school science teacher who he sent all his not-schooled-in-science elementary students to (he was a k-8 principal). What a treat that was.
     
  18. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    My district does the same thing.
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Clearly, Jem, your principal never "got" science, nor scientific thinking, nor even logical thinking - I'm guessing this is someone who either never mastered the subject matter or who saw having to master the subject matter as a waste of time. How pathetic. But how typical.
     
  20. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Glad to hear that my district is not the only one who does this... I am just sick over this!:mad:
     
  21. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    To all those complaining about sci/soc studies being cut--would you rather have a student in 4 th grade who can read or who can accurately identify the parts of a plant. It would be ideal if there was time for both, but on a lot of days there is not. We do use nonfiction texts with sci/soc content but the focus is usually on building literacy rather than the content.
     
  22. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I really like the way our province has handled this. For K-2, they took one unit from each of the curricula of Health, Science, Social Studies, and Personal Developmen & Career Development and combined it into "You and Your World". This subject for K-2 is to be combined with Literacy (and Math where applicable)... in other words, you are covering Literacy outcomes AND You and Your World outcomes. Yes, Social Studies and Science are important (Social Studies is perhaps my favourite subject to teach) but ultimately, kids need to be able to read... so if you can combine the two, why not?
     
  23. HMM

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    When I was in elementary school we covered science,social studies, art, music, math,... and we still managed to learn how to read.
     
  24. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Agreed. Besides, this gives a fantastic opportunity for Reading Across the Curriculum. Kids who hate reading fiction might enjoy reading about science or social studies.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Insisting that it's an either/or issue - that learning to read requires that content be shorted - is short-sighted. I repeat: It's well known that oral vocabulary is a good predictor of reading skill, but how on earth are children going to acquire the vocabulary they will need for reading to learn if they aren't exposed to it in grades K-2?
     
  26. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Science/Social Studies is more than just parts of a plant. It's understanding how things in the world work, where you are, traditions. Imagine our kids being able to compete in a global economy and not know these things.

    Margaret Spellings completely lost my respect when she said similarly "would you rather them be able to read or play the clarinet" in response to a question about losing arts in schools. The fact of the matter is you can spend a whole day every day trying to teach kids to read but without, as TG said the vocabulary, they will never be successful and they will ultimately hate reading. It is also in our standards, just because it's not tested, doesn't mean you shouldn't teach it.
     
  27. taryn_liz

    taryn_liz Rookie

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    In my school, I was told that as a first-year teacher, I should only teach reading/language arts and math. They reading curriculum has built in science and social studies parts, but I have no set science or social studies times. I have Science curriculum I could use, but the school provides no Social Studies curriculum.
     
  28. forkids

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    This happened in our school system too. Sad and dumb.
     
  29. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    And, dare I say, boring.
     
  30. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    I completely agree. Dare I say-Science and Social Studies CANNOT effectively be taught in a literacy program. My district has tried this unsuccesfully for three years now. They still are not "smelling the coffee".
    I agree with Mrs.C. Curriculum based only on literacy and math is BORING. Boring to teach, boring to learn.
     
  31. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    As far as merit-based pay goes, it needs to be more than just test scores. I worked at a school where our raises were based on merit during the previous school year. Yes, test scores were a part of pay raise, but not the whole thing AND it was based on student growth NOT pass/fail scores. For me, I felt I was rewarded for my hard work. I loved the merit pay. Now it makes me upset that I work in a system where my raise will be the same as the next person, even if I am working harder than them.

    The discussion about science/social studies -- disgusting and such an injustice for the kids. I taught 5th grade SS in Ohio, the first year they are tested. I tried to teach 3 years of social studies in a single year, in order to prepare the kids for the test. Granted, we were departmentalized, and I had the kids for an hour a day for social studies alone! My doctoral research is on using literacy skills in a SS classroom in order to reinfornce reading/writing skills and to help foster higher order thinking in SS class. If done properly, it can really benefit SS instruction. That being said, there needs to be time for SS and Science in the school day.
     
  32. deedee

    deedee Connoisseur

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    Originally Posted by Sarge
    BTW, at my school, we stopped teaching science and social studies in grades K-3 because those grades don't get tested in those subjects.

    As a social studies teacher that horrifies me! I agree with what everyone has posted about the importance of these subjects! The students have enough trouble grasping major historical information but if they are not introduced to the fundamentals at an early age (just as in math or reading) it is harder for the student to be at grade level! :mad:
     
  33. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Well, you know I agree with that. We test in Kinder but not until January - so there's an after score, but no before. Early childhood teachers typically are left out of such programs. This one was a grant that we had to write in ourselves what the measures would be-and yes, it was based on progress. However, the percentage of progress was pretty unreasonable, I want to say it was 90%. I also think other factors should be taken into consideration when calculating merit pay-I don't think it will ever happen though because that would mean much more paperwork and time spent with observations, etc.

    I agree with you Knitter, how can reading about a Science experiment be effective? I love teaching Science to my kids-you can blow up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda and you would have thought I made the Statue of Liberty disappear by the gasps in the room. It's exciting for them all right!
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I believe that science and social studies could (and should) be incorporated into literacy instruction... but I also believe that that only works if the science and social studies materials are authentic.
     
  35. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Incorporated, yes. It is great reinforcement. But to forgo teaching Science and Social Studies to simply read and write about it is not enough. We are using authentic materials, and our scores have gone down consistently in the past three years.
     
  36. TeacherGroupie

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    Yup, knitter. The reinforcement cuts both ways - but only if the instruction reinforces the connections.
     

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