What was the point of this?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by iteachbx, Sep 3, 2013.

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  1. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    So today at our staff meeting first day back, my principal discussed last year's test scores. Overall NY had like a 30% passing rate in ELA and my school wasn't even close to that, so obviously not a great start, but luckily my principal was positive and emphasized that this was a baseline and we're looking forward now on how we're going to improve it.

    Anyway, a lot of the focus this year seems like it's going to be on looking very carefully at targeting specific students. Students who might have previously been considered 2 or 3s and were now 1s or 2s. Basically "pushable students." It made me start thinking about the non-pushable students. The students (and I get a lot of them) who would have been a 1 on either the old test or the new test. The ones who come into 3rd or 4th grade reading on a kindergarten level.

    Wasn't the whole point of this push for high stakes testing that "no child is left behind" and now when the pressure is really on it seems like people are just going to end up saying, okay let me really, really focus on the ones who I know have a chance at passing. Why pull the small group of kindergarten level readers when I can spend extra time with the 2nd grade level readers who might actually pass the test?

    Obviously I don't agree with that idea and I don't think it's what my principal meant at all, I'm just saying I could see it happening- it's like these tests are going to end up doing exactly what they thought they set out to "fix" that the students who are struggling the most are going to be forgotten/ignored so that teachers can focus on getting as many other kids as possible to pass.
     
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  3. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Yes, yes, yes. I see this as a trend. I hated it, but at my old school we used to (for some reason, I never figured out why) call the kids who were thisclose to a 3 "bubble students." We spent a lot of time on these "bubble students." It's so sad when you feel so pressured to get these kids to pass :(
     
  4. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    Our schools evaluations are based on how many students passed, but also and more importantly gains on individual students.
    For example, I had a girl last year make an 800% jump on her DIBELS from start to end. She started out barely being able to sound out words to being at about 30 wpm. Obviously it wasn't satisfactory and she didn't pass any of the high-stakes testing.
    So yeah, she failed, but an 800% jump is quite the gains to make in one year. The way my state has this set up, it motivates teachers to focus on low students almost more, because they are the ones who can make the giant jumps.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I understand. We also have a list of "bubble students" and they are given a lot of attention. The struggling kids are basically seen as unworthy of the effort.
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I also understand what you are saying-but I think a lot of schools focus too much just on the lows. We are required to do a whole 30 mins per day extra time in reading with them, they get the tutorials, the summer school. I think there are a lot of bubble kids and even high kids who lose ground through their academic career and the statistics bear that out.

    When I did tutorials last year, I did it with the kids you are talking about and it was just the push they needed.
     
  7. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I know our individual evaluations will be based on growth but I'm not sure exactly how this will work. But for the overall school I got the vibe the principal was looking at improving the % of kids who passed, not looking at the growth, which then would highlight what we call the "pushable students." Looking at growth makes it easier to worry about all students at all levels.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We had to have a serious conversation last week when schedules came out and my B average child was placed into AIS. It's kind of hard to explain how you can have a B average and still be in need of Academic Intervention. I"m not certain that I made the school district look like they have lots of credibility, but at least my child no longer feels "dumber than dirt."

    Kids tend not to get all the political nonsense behind the testing-- all they know is how those scores make them feel, and it isn't good.
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    What exactly is the purpose of academic intervention and how does it work?
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It means that instead of any electives (like, say chorus or Home and Careers) you get a double period of math and/ or English.

    But, again, something like 70% of NY should be in AIS, having failed the test. My kids' friends are either in Honors or AIS-- either they're "smart" or "stupid" with no middle ground.

    If only the top 30% DON'T need extra help, then something is wrong. And if a B average needs extra help, then something is wrong.

    I'm going to give some thought to opting out of the testing this year. If my kids land in AIS anyway, so be it. At least their egos won't be trampled on in the meantime.

    Educators can argue all they want about the value of high stakes testing. But at the end of the day, at least in NY, this time around it's telling bright kids that they're stupid.

    Either that, or the grades they've been receiving since Kindergarten have been inflated.

    But either way, it's certainly not helping my kids. When "the system" tells you you're stupid, the reaction of lots of adolescents is along the lines of "OK, then. Why even bother???"
     
  11. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    This is why "value-added" evaluations are so important.

    We talked about this specific example in my English 10 class as we read the chapter in Freakonomics about teachers cheating on standardized tests.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It's hard to see your 13 year old become a cynic.
     
  13. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Aliceacc, if I had children I think I would opt them out of testing. It was heartbreaking to see my 7th graders have panic attacks during the test and literally could not take the test they were that upset. No chid should go through that. And a b average is a good average. Your daughter is lucky to have you as an encouraging mom
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I want to call guidance tomorrow and see if there's some way they can squeeze Chorus in. Last year she was All district; this year she's not allowed to take the class.
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Ouch! I hate to see any student miss those electives. :(
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    :( :( :(
     
  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    We have the same push in our district, moving those "bubble" kids in our classes. HOWEVER, the low kids are not neglected in our district at all, if they are in 4th grade reading at a kindergarten level, they are on an IEP, or pulled out for special help. They are certainly not overlooked in favor of bubble kids.

    When we focus on "bubble" kids(done in class, and tutoring), its not neglecting the low, it is neglecting the medium and high.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It's been explained that there are more points benefits to move a proficient to a distinguished opposed to a novice to an apprentice. That's why the lower kids are not given fair treatment.
     
  19. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Alice!! That girl needs to have chorus!! Agh! It just makes me crazy that schools think that taking kids away from things like chorus (and consequently opportunities like district festivals) is giving them a good education. One size does not fit all and that will kill kids' spirit. If they had taken me out of band when I was in middle school because I didn't do well - and, I test well, but I was not doing well academically in middle school, but band was my favorite class. I felt like I was creating something, part of a team, not being looked down on by the teacher. If they had taken me out of music I would have felt completely depressed and alienated. I would have had zero motivation to try to please them. I thank my lucky stars that did not happen to me! I realize that it might not be so dramatic for other students but don't take away things that help kids be well rounded and sensitive and expressive...

    Oof! Ok off my soapbox...
     
  20. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So quick question for 4th grade teachers. If you get a 4th grader who is reading at a kinder level, they are ignored in favor of bubble kids? You don't refer them to sped? No learning plan for them? You just shift focus to bubble kids and leave them behind(as in less services)?
     
  21. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    You really think any teacher would admit this?
     
  22. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Ignored? No. Of course students can be referred for special education (after at least nine weeks of RTIing, if you will). But those bubble kids are assigned mentored, their data is charted, they're discussed at team meetings, etc.
     
  23. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    That's exactly my point. This should be done for ANY student entering 4th grade at kinder level. RTIing should include having their data monitored and discussed. They should be in sped...all of those services you mention.

    My point is, where I work, it is not the low kids who are effected by this "bubble" mentality, it is the students slightly above the bubble. The students in California who are proficient that don't get the focus, the high kids as well.
     
  24. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    LOL, my bad. I just had this conversation with my students today with regards to "working hard".
     
  25. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I don't think anyone is saying otherwise... They're technically taken care of, but it's out of obligation and not with "heart". (Sometimes, I should add.)

    Yes, I see this as well. Basically the FOCUS is on the bubble students. The lower students will be serviced yet not with the same "enthusiasm" and the high kids are still servied a big, but generally expected to maintain their high testing performance.
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It's all administrative-directed here.
     
  27. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Here is the problem.
     
  28. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    What is your thoughts on this?

    I actually see the above quote being how many teachers(could) look at the "bubble" kid issue. Many many teachers are "over" standardized testing, so I actually see them as more likely to approach the "bubble" issue with "They're technically taken care of, but it's out of obligation and not with "heart"." While more authentically giving their attention to the lower kids who they think are being "less" focused on due to testing.
     
  29. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    But now the pressure is coming from administrators to put the extra emphasis on the bubble kids. That's the data they're going to want to look at, those are the kids they're going to want to talk about, look at their work, etc. etc. They could pressure teachers to focus the majority of their attention on those students knowing that's their best bet at increasing their overall % of students passing the test.
     
  30. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Agreed.

    But that does not mean the teachers "heart" will be in it. The teachers heart will more likely be in what THEY see as the most "important", and if many teachers believe the low students are getting short changed, their heart may be with them, regardless of the admins pressure.

    Also, in California, admin can "pretend" to put pressure on the bubble kids for the best point gain, but it still comes no where close to minimizing SES, Sped, Hispanic, African American achievement. AYP has more impact than % passing.
     
  31. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Well, this is what the goal has been all along by many of the reformers, to dumb down the education of the children who are not in the upper class. To separate the lines between the classes more stringently. Rhee, Gates, Broad all can pat themselves on the back at their success.
     
  32. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    In my former district, those 'bubble' kids or at risk got an extra tutorial period each day that would help them to focus on areas they were weak in and work towards a better understanding so they could pass the state test. Many of these students were just a few points away from passing. My SPED students however did not get this extra period during the day so really the only instruction they were receiving was in their core class with no extra instruction given. I think the mentality of a lot of administrators is that there is a chance that the bubble kids can pass so we need to focus on them, whereas the SPED kids will never pass so we'll just coast them along.
     
  33. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    SPED students already have a wealth of resources at their disposal at my school; they have a resource period with a SPED teacher instead of study hall, they're put into inclusion classes with smaller class sizes and a co-teaching situation, etc.

    Many teachers see the resources going towards SPED and naturally resent it, as it's taking away resources from the "bubble kids," and higher achieving students.
     
  34. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    My students have inclusion classes where they have a co-teacher or an aide, but that's it. Late in the year, the SPED students who failed any of our state tests were pulled out of an elective, but that wasn't for the whole year like the RtI students got. I'm glad your school works differently.
     
  35. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Same in the district I work at. SPED students have all kinds of accommodations, extra help, small groups, even a different state test.
     
  36. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    It would be so nice to have some extra resources for our special Ed students. Actually, it would just be nice to have some help! :(
     
  37. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I'm going to go back to the OP. it's the opposite in FL. It isn't how many kids pass; it's whether or not they show learning gains. So the kids that we have to move each year need to show gains. Level 1s and 2s and within those, a specific subset (usually black male ED).

    What ends up happening? The kids on the fringe get left behind. The higher-level kids get left behind (because even though we have Advanced and Standard, they're never quite correct. I have below-level readers in advanced classes.)

    We have two elective blocks at my school to accommodate students who need intensive math and intensive reading. So they lose out on both opportunities for a fun elective.
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Yay!! Her guidance counselor got her into Chorus every other day!
     
  39. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    There are too many posts to quote, but I agree with a lot that is being said here. In my state, evaluations are based on how many kids pass. If a kid raised their score by 100 points but still didn't pass, that doesn't count for anything. Likewise, basically any data that's not the state test doesn't "count" as far as accountability and evaluations go.

    Last year I think my school was hugely unethical with their treatment of the "low" and "bubble" kids, and it was certainly admin-directed. We had two title 1 teachers and they only serviced the highest bubble kids. They based this on MAPs. The grade level target score on most of our 3rd grade tests was around 200. They would choose the 3-4 kids from each class that scored in the 190-199 range (yes, I literally had a student in interventions all year because she missed the MAPs target by ONE point).

    We tried to do some RtI, but my admin wasn't having it. If the kid was severely low and had been for a couple of years we sometimes got sped to agree to test them. I had the "low" class and I would say that at least 50% of them were more than 1 year behind and a good 25% was 2-3 years behind. Two children in my class were actually identified for sped and got interventions through that. We were told to meet with our "bubble" reading groups every day, and closer to the state testing we had to meet with them twice a day. We also had after school tutoring that we could only pick 4 kids for from each class. You guessed it, that was for bubble kids too. One of my sped parents was extremely involved and always seeking out extra tutoring or opportunities for her son- I HATED having to admit to her that he didn't qualify for tutoring or summer school. Same with summer school- only kids that had missed passing the state test by a few points were invited. My team finally figured out a way to at least do some reading intervention for the lowest kids by having me teach an intervention class while my on level students went out to the other classes. My admin let us do this ONLY because another teammate agreed to do a "test prep" class for those bubble kids while I was doing the interventions.

    Yes, I think it's horribly wrong, but I understand why admin feel that they have to do this. My school was on year four of a turnaround plan- if they don't improve this year, they'll be taken over by the state. I will say that every one of my "bubble" kids passed all three tests last year. The testing mania has given them better education than ever- but in order to accomplish that the low kids are being completely neglected.

    ETA: As far as giving interventions to BOTH low and bubble kids, we just didn't have the resources. We would have needed about 10 titl1 1/intervention teachers to even start to think about doing extra intervention for every kid that was below grade level. I suspect that most low income schools are in a similar spot.
     
  40. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So your sped kid get nothing for being identified a sped?
     
  41. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    That's awesome Alice!!!
     
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