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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When is this horse going to die

From the blog, It's not all Flowers and Sausages:

When Is This Horse Going To Die?
...because, honestly? Aren't we all sick of beating it?

But before we get started here...Yes, I know I've been gone fo-eva, I know I should probably explain myself and I know I owe many of you an apology. All of this is coming, friends, but Mrs. Mimi has to deal with this pesky piece-of-shit fly first.

What is so major that it snapped me out of my funk? Got me to dust off the old soap box? Shine up the fabulous boots for a little butt kicking?

Using student standardized test scores to evaluate, judge, compensate and, yes, sometimes publicly humiliate teachers, that's what.

I mean, what the deuce, Powers That Be? Why won't you let this one go?

A Super Colleague sent me a link to a piece in the NY Times this morning. After reading just the first few opening sentences, I could feel my old blog finger twitching. (For those of you who are non-bloggers, that's similar to a trigger finger, but with a lot less ammo and a lot more snarky.)

Here's the link. Take a moment. Soak in the ridiculous. I'll still be here fuming when you finish.

Why do city officials insist on using standardized test scores for EVERYTHING?! Is it because reducing something SO COMPLEX such as teacher effectiveness to a bunch of numbers feels easier, faster, neater? More science-y and fitting with your power ties, expensive lunches and big charts with graphs?

I guess from where city officials are standing (hint: it's not in a school), abusing standardized test data is the new rage in excessive back patting.

Why shouldn't we use said data to evaluate their job performance and determine their pay? Oh, because they can't be held directly responsible for something that depends on such a wide variety of factors?


I feel like it goes without saying, but I will say it again because that is the way of my people. The score a student receives on a test is not just a measure of his teacher's ability to teach. It is also a reflection of his parents, his entire school, the neighborhood he lives in, if he ate a decent breakfast and if he speaks proficient English. It's complicated, can we just agree on that?

And then did you read the part about how really these scores might
say something about the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent but really tell us next to nothing about the remaining 80 percent of teachers. Do I even need to throw in the reality that many teachers don't even test a subject or grade level that is tested?!

May I take a moment to make it very clear that my last statement was in no way an invitation to create another battery of tests. I know, I got the Powers That Be all worked up for a second there. Perhaps they need a cold, number free shower or something.

Let's just boil it down to this.

Stop saying that you respect teachers, that you think we have a difficult job, that you think we are so important to the future and then simultaneously reduce our jobs to a series of numbers and scores that are largely irrelevant and, in many ways, out of our control. Stop pointing fingers, trying to publicly humiliate us and pin the blame for failing schools on us alone and then wonder why the best and brightest don't jump at the chance to have a career in teaching.

Just stop.

The horse is dead. Put down your stick and walk away.

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