Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Jackstreet, Jul 6, 2011.
Jul 6, 2011
Yes, situations are different, but teaching to the test came over time when the realization set in that progress wasn't being made by the effective teachers. Kids weren't getting any closer to passing by what was being done in the classroom utilizing he methods the teachers chose to use. So, if they didn't know how to change what they were doing to help students learn more than they were before, they started teaching to the test.
Now how would you be able to teach more effectively? Not teach information you deem not pertinent thus fudging the state standards? Teach something you believe rather than what the state standards say is to be taught? Please explain how you can more effectively teach and have the students learn all of the state standards.
Or is your real problem the fact that there are state standards and you don't agree with them all? I believe ours can be vague and left open to huge interpetations. I also believe it is very wide and not very deep, but that has NOTHING to do with the state assessments and everything to do with decisions about what should be taught. I see a BIG difference there. Different battle to be fought for the good of the students.
I don't have a problem with the standards. Due to the tests, admin. makes us do certain programs and teach certain ways. Without the tests I would be free to teach the same material the way that I want to, the way that I feel I personally would be most effective.
So, the test scores of the students dropped significantly when the principal made you start using a program and teaching in a certain way (that you have yet to explain)?
Actually I think they've been around for a long time-more to show parents where their students fall on the national curve. They are just used for different purposes in education now.
Sometimes the tests the opt to use are fallible. Sometimes a teacher has a class of students who begin the year way below grade level.
The first year we instituted merit pay the Teacher of the Year for our entire district did not qualify. She was an incredible teacher-but did not achieve the growth required in her test scores.
This whole thing seems like a catch-22. The students do poorly on the test and they are penalized. They "show growth" and it is questioned and analyzed, found to be untrue and they still get penalized. Schools have been cheating on standardized tests for years; way before NCLB. I'm shocked that this is news to so many teachers here, but I guess that shows the differences in regions and experiences. The assumption that lazy and ineffective teachers are the ones doing the cheating is a bit ridiculous, considering the fact that every instance of cheating that I've known or heard of was mandated by an administrator. What this looks like is teachers staying after school when it is time to "pack up" the tests, but instead, they are erasing answers and bubbling in new ones. Why? Because that is what the administrator said needed to be done, and there usually was some sort of threat held over their heads. This is done in public and charter schools. Ironically, people don't make a fuss over charter schools falsifying tests scores and lying about student gains.
I personally feel like the fact that this made national news is simply an attack on the public school system. All of a sudden, many, many Americans now hate teachers. Just a few minutes ago, I was taking out the trash and overheard a neighbor complaining about his children's teacher. This anti-teacher sentiment is really sinking into peoples psyche subconsciously. Teachers now have to prove that they aren't the bad teachers ingrained in people's minds or portrayed on television...there's a new movie out now named "Bad Teacher." Think this is all a coincidence? I'd love to see how things unfold in the next decade or so with public education; at least I can say I saw the train-wreck before they hit the brakes.
Standardized testing has been around since before World War II, yes. Among its uses historically has been to open the door to places like Harvard for students whose parents might never even have gone to college.
The regulations on what we can and can't do (coming from admin.) has gotten more stringent in the past couple of years. In those years my students test scores have gone down. I am not saying that is the only factor, I also know that the level of my stuents academically was lower in recent years. There are many factors at play. But I am saying without those new regulations/programs/expectations, that I believe I would be more effective.
It's not necessarily about teaching the standards but teaching them the way they will be tested. We start in 1st Grade now using reading passages and teaching kids written strategies for finding the answers to comprehension questions-instead of teaching them to read the passage and understand it-they are highlighting and making notations of what paragraph the answer was in. Upper elementary grades have to use these passages for reading instruction instead of novels, etc. In my opinion, you can't effectively create great readers that way-possibly readers who do well on tests.
Standardized tests in high school that have bearing on students beyond on high school is a completely different ball game. In that case students must put the pressure on themselves if they want to go on to higher education. If they don't, then its fine if they don't do as well at that point. Completely different situation.
Kinder, teaching that way isn't even going to create readers who do well on tests as a whole - all it accomplishes is a potential spike on a particular version of a particular test.
I agree. But we are being required to teach that way because that is the version of the tests our kids take-testing is dictating our curriculum. That one score on one test is going to be the bulk of the school's and now teacher's evaluation.
Completely different? No similarities?
I'm confused. IN my state the state tests reflects the state standards that are voted in. The state test doesn't drive standards. All NCLB requires is that a certain percentage of students and groups pass tests that test THE STATE STANDARDS. It is those state standards that drive the curriculum. Now, you may need to know how the state test presents a concept or idea so that you can use similar wording so the students have exposure to it, but to say the test drive the curriculum in MY state is incorrect. It is the standards that do so.
If the state chose to change the standards, the test would have to be re-written to reflect the new standards. The curriculum would have to address the required elements of the new state standards.
In fact I think you're being required to teach that way because people who ought to know better can't or won't distinguish between making a range of strategies available (which is a very good thing) and making specific strategies absolutely mandatory (which is not).
(Yes, I'm picking a bone. I hope it's clear that it's not with you, Kinder, nor with teachers in general.)
But it is easier to write multiple choice questions for some standards than for others. Consequently, some standards are not emphasized on the test, so they get cut from the curriculum to focus on the ones that "count." The tests also use reading passages instead of books (obviously), so reading passages get taught instead of books. Finally, the tests are typically multiple choice, so that becomes the default method of assessment in the classroom, to get the students accustomed to taking the test. The tests very much do drive the curriculum at many schools.
I personally don't even see the debate. I have dedicated the last 9 years of my career in under-achieving schools and I KNOW its possible for ANY child to succeed. Its also incredibly hard at times to face the injustice of the whole situation, but there's no excuse to cheating--NONE.
Here's the biggest beef I have; Frankly, my blood is boiling: When Atlanta's scores improved drastically, educators looked to Atlanta schools' instructional practices to implement solutions in their own schools. These crooked jerkwads led thousands of honest educators astray; They harmed Atlanta's kids and they harmed kids across America.
There are so many other issues to speak of, but to me, that's the biggest one.
Thank you for clarifying.
I know multiple-choice classroom tests came along prior to the state tests as a way to grade faster in our schools. Now scantrons are all the rage because they are really fast to use. I do believe this may not have been the case in other schools.
About passages and methods of highlighting the anwers, these skills are taught in our schools, but not to the exclusion of other ways of teaching reading comprehension. I'm not against them as a tool, but I am totally against them as a crutch.
I remember reading passages when I went to school. We did more passage reading than novel or book reading in elementary school. That combined with text book reading at about 4th grade. We had to independently read books, but for the purpose of instruction it was primarily passages and textbooks. Teacher did read aloud. In HS we started heavy into novels. But in MS we read what was in our English text which was often short stories or exerpts to other stories.
I don't see the problem with passages. I see them as a very important tool to learning to read. It keeps the content short so that the lesson is concise and most have time to read or re-read the passage. Those that can read it and comprehend quickly and accurately might have to practice the aids for when they get passages or books that are complex, but those that still struggle need to learn on small portions of materials in order to have time to re-read or try to break down the language to determine meaning. A key skill in academic reading when the text starts to become more complex than your current skill.
But then again this comes down to a fundamental difference in how one believes reading should be taught.
Excellent point, paperheart!
I'm reading everyone else's posts and there is a debate going on about standardized testing. After almost a decade, I still don't have a solid opinion. I could speak to the negative side easily, but we probably all know those points already. Not to mention others have discussed some in this thread.
For me, though, standardized testing has one redeaming quality. Having worked in struggling schools with really (I mean REALLY) stubborn, backwards, harmful leadership, standardized test accountability was the ONLY catalyst that brought about any postive change. I also worked at an exemplary school, yet I also saw an understated need for a catalyst there too. I'm not sure EVERY student's achievement would have been focussed on so severely if there wasn't a saught after label of achievement to fight for.
I agree with everyone. On the note of bonuses--I don't think student achievement should determine bonuses for teachers. I only teach one course that takes standardized tests - AP Language. Now, these kids have a 100% rate on the state, and 95% are at advanced proficiency,and I do virtually nothing to prepare them for it. I give them one practice test, look at the results, and then teach/discuss/go over what they didn't understand or got wrong. I also teach them test taking strategies. I spend all my time on the AP test. Now, if I'm given a bonus for their performance on the state test-great for me, I'll get it every year, and it will seem I am a fantastic teacher. Meanwhile, my colleague down the hall who has all low functioning children and teaches and teaches and drills, but still has low passing rates, will not get that bonus--but does that mean she is not a good teacher. Now, if they judge me based on AP scores-then I may or may not get a bonus. My kids are at national average, but my honors program is very weak, so my kids are way below where they need to be to be in my class. Also, all my other classes do not have tests associated with them-so how am i judged?
Cheating is completely unacceptable, but many schools turn a blind eye to it, as do parents, so what's to be expected.
But you can't teach vocabulary as effectively with passages-things like character/plot elements, the pure joy of reading. If that's all kids are reading to prepare them for the test, that's not going to be effective in the long run. I know when I read fun, I don't highlight the important parts-kids are not being given realistic skills for life, simply for a test. We actually are required to test in a multiple choice format for our weekly tests in Kinder now, because that's the format their test takes. It really has changed teaching methods.
We had the same scandal here in Houston years ago and one of our city leaders became the Secretary of Education because of our wonderful turn-around in data (for us I believe it was dropout info that was being fudged). It's sad that it's happening in Atlanta-but unfortunately it doesn't surprise me.
Standardized tests = fundamentally corrupt??
Even if you don't believe standardized tests are wise educational policy, does their use render the system fundamentally corrupt? And is it any more unfair than potentially biased or arbitrary evaluations by administrators?
If you don't like the standardized system of testing, work to change the system.
I'm very disgusted by the cheating. I think those people totally lost sight of the students. I agree that inflated scores will be detrimental to the affected students in the future. Additionally, these kids will now take the tests next year and always wonder if they were good at testing or if they had gotten a boost from the teachers.
Further, the culture of cheating for the good of the school is twisted on so many levels, I don't feel there is enough space to dedicate to the discussion. I feel sorry for those kids. I feel sorry for those who did the right thing in their classrooms and are now lumped with the cheaters.
I don't care what you think about the system. If you don't like it, get a different job or work within the system to get it changed.
That is a very fine opinion, but I do not see it as detrimental to those kids. The students that I work with most often don't know how they did on the previous tests. The results don't show up for months later, they usually don't recieve them until after the next school year has started and by then, kids this age have moved on. They don't worry about how well they did at that point. While I don't think cheating is a good thing, I also don't see it as very harmful. I think it has the potential to prevent more harm than it can do.
As for working with the system to get it changed, that is often unrealistic. It takes significant amounts of time and usually resources as well, to make those types of changes the "legitimate" way. Even then, it is always done the right way. Changes are often made for political gain, not for what is best for those involved. It is sad, but sometimes; the ends can justify the means.
No, I wouldn't cheat, and yes, I have reported it. Nothing was done.
The pressure some of these teachers in Atlanta were under was enormous. Harrassment, intimidation, threatening statements, and embarrassment were typical at some schools. Many who did report violations lost their jobs. Some knew it was happening and kept their mouths shut. Some were asked to cheat and outright refused.
I can't pass judgment on them. I wasn't in their shoes. But at my school, I can say what I need to say and not feel that my job is at stake.
Read the reports, especially the narratives. They are fascinating.
Jul 7, 2011
How well do the test scores in elementary grades reflect actual skill and knowledge? (Someone else brought this up) If an experienced, neutral teacher asked the questions in a friendly setting, would some children score a lot better? And do the questions accurately reflect what the student is supposed to be learning? I'm sure the test manufacturer says the test are excellent, but... If you have to teach to the test, it would indicate that the material on the test does not match the general subject area. Of course the test is only a sampling, but it does not seem to be a very accurate sampling.
Teaching only "reading passages" does not sound like really teaching reading.
You missed the part about not exclusively.... passages as a tool.
Interesting, though. If you want kids to have realistic skills for life, why are we teaching so much fiction? Why aren't we teaching more informational reading since so much of what people do or need to gain more knowledge is informational reading. We focus on novels and the joy of reading then we slap informational reading down in front of them later and they are clueless about what to do with it. Guess what I did with ALL of my college textbooks and would have done in HS. Highlight the important information or the key points that would most likely come up on tests. Yes I did. I had excellent comprehension, but it aided me later or aided me if I was distracted. Or better yet, thought I knew the answer but was missing one tiny bit that would give different insight.
So, if we really want to give kids the skills they need for life, why aren't we focusing on the types of reading the kids need for life? Fiction novels are primarily for fun but yet we spend so much time devoted to them. Plot, character development, etc How about how to fix, why does wood float, how do trees grow, how to build, what to do when, stories of the revolutionary war, etc
Why don't we focus on it being interesting and engaging to learn about things and processes and history....
Sorry, this has nothing to do with cheating except we are cheating kids out of becoming engaged in life by only choosing fiction.
Actually most of our leveled readers and basal passages from our reading adoption are non-fiction. The passages the kids are reading to practice strategies are also all non-fiction-on the elementary level anyway.
I am so happy to hear that because in our district the kids read fiction constantly. No basals in our schools. And no passage reading either (like I said, it was when I was growing up we did this).
Non-fiction gives tons of background knowledge for kids to use later on.
How wide spread do you believe this sort of cheating is?
I'm assuming you are responding to my choice of the word "corrupt" in the poll. I suspect you maybe be uncomfortable with the most common meaning of the word --- definition #1 below. I'm using the term as defined in #3
cor·rupt /kəˈrʌpt/ Show Spelled
[kuh-ruhpt] Show IPA
1. guilty of dishonest practices, as bribery; lacking integrity; crooked: a corrupt judge.
2. debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil: a corrupt society.
3. made inferior by errors or alterations.
If I misunderstood your reference, please ignore this comment.
I'm glad to see there is one other person out there willing to vote yes.
I know there is a lot of bitterness about the educational system in the US. Many teachers are even leaving the profession because of it, and I get the unhappiness. But, I still cannot, for the life of me, condone being dishonest and cheating. What about living a life of honesty, integrity, and just trying to be an overall good person? What about all those things? My Dad taught me, never in words but through his actions, about being a hard worker, and being an honest person. I believe in those things. I don't see how cheating and lying is ever going to solve the problems in education. What good can possibly come out of lying and cheating?
Based on the reports of how widespread this sort of thing is, it's curious that more have not voted yes. The poll was set up to allow anonymous voting to make it safe for people to be candid.
So clearly there's a disconnect. Are rumors of this sort of cheating greatly exaggerated and now being exacerbated by media coverage?
Is the practice more widespread than we can ever imagine, but simply politically incorrect to acknowledge or even discuss?
Did I simply ask the wrong question?
Though I voted yes, I have never participated in it or witnessed it myself.
As for lying and cheating itself; I do not think they are good things and I don't think they will solve anything. To me, I can see the rationalization because I feel it has the potential to even the playing field (so to speak). It might not be the right way to get what is needed done, but it still gets done.
I have heard the arguments about how fair that is for those doing it right and it makes the numbers look wrong in comparison and doesn't do anything positive for those students.
I don't take the tests seriously myself. After they are done I am not concerned with scores, I don't look at them for comparisons sake, I could care less what my new students scored previously. Those tests and the scores mean nothing to me, so for me, lying and cheating on something that doesn't/shouldn't matter; its mute. Its like a tree falling in the forest when nobody is there; doesn't really matter if it makes a sound or not.
There's a saying that says your true character is what you do when no one is looking. We should be doing the right thing, simply because it is the right thing, no matter who is there, no matter how big or small the chances of getting caught are.
I agree with that. But this situation is a choice of two evils to me.
1. Lie and cheat
2. Let the state win
I don't think either of those are a good choice.
But at least with the second option, you can have a clear conscious.
callmebob, 'lye'? Really?
I find it absurd that this poll even appears on a teaching site.
Separate names with a comma.