Teaching, Testing, and Acountability: Poverty and Charters
Every now and then I'll embed a video in my blog. Here I have chosen six – informative and inspiring – from 2015, comprising about 2 hours of video. I've added emphasis with boldface and italics.
What would happen if state and federal legislators actually listened to educators? Notice how many of the legislators in this video talk about "accountability." The assumption is that before "reformist" type accountability (aka standardized tests used to rank students, teachers, and schools) we never knew how our children were doing in school.
So long as public education policy continues to be shaped by the interests of corporate profiteering and not the interests of our public school children we will resist these unjust testing laws.Jia Lee...the only woman at the hearings, from a female dominated profession...tries to teach legislators about the damage done by runaway testing.
Watch her testimony in the video below and read more about the hearings in...Teachers Rally Against Standardized Testing At No Child Left Behind Hearing.
The sad thing is that, despite the fact that NCLB has been replaced, annual, high-stakes testing is still with us.
Jia Lee, a New York special education teacher, said the tests "can only measure right or wrong," not complex questions. "I will refuse to administer a test that reduces my students to a single metric. … Teachers, students and parents find themselves in a position of whether or not to push back or leave."
Jia Lee - Senate Hearings Reauthorization of NCLB Jan 2015 from nLightn Media on Vimeo.
In February several hundred pro-public education supporters went to Indianapolis to "Rally for Ritz"...a rally in support of Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz. Superintendent Ritz was continually at odds with the appointed members of the pro-charter, pro-voucher, "reformist," school board.
Bloomington mom, and chair of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education--Monroe County and South Central Indiana, Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer's speech to the assembled crowd was memorable, calling for, and defining legislative accountability, not just school accountability. Click here for the complete text of the speech.
My child is not “college and career ready” because HE IS A CHILDLegislators and "reformers" are all for accountability...for others.
...Accountability is representing your constituents, not your donors
...Accountability is research driven education policy. Standards don't educate kids, teachers do.
Accountability is seeing to it that every child has a school that has enough nurses, social workers, guidance counselors, gym, art, and music teachers, librarians, small class sizes, electives, hands-on projects, science experiments, theater, and band. Every. Single. Indiana. Child.
...no six year old should be on the losing end for equal educational opportunity
John Oliver shows us just how inane and stupid our obsessive focus on standardized testing really is – test-pep rallies, school cheers – trying to convince children that high-stakes tests are "fun."
Yet, we all know that high-stakes tests are inappropriate for our most vulnerable students...and they make the pain of the also inappropriate test-prep-standards-based education even more painful.
Official instructions for test administrators specify what to do if a student vomits on his or her test booklet...and something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of kids will vomit. Tests are supposed to be assessments of skills...[NOTE: NSFW Some images and language might be offensive...just like Pearson's tests.]
JOHN MERROW vs. EVA MOSKOWITZ
Success Academy procedures hurt children. They are used by charter school chains to get rid of "undesirables" (aka, students who are difficult and/or expensive to educate or whose test scores don't measure up) despite what Moskowitz says in this report.
The fact that the two schools highlighted at the beginning of this report – one public, one charter – share the same building, is part of the problem. "Dual occupancy" – two or more schools sharing one building – is a problem. Public schools and their buildings belong to the community which built them. Taking part of a building away from a public school and turning over part of a building to a privately run charter school is like stealing the community's property for profit. We don't turn over control of certain parts of public parks for privately run athletic teams. We don't close of parts of public libraries and let for-profit book sellers "share the space." Neither should we do that with public schools.
Merrow said it all when he said...
In the end, how charter schools conduct their business is basically their own business.
What kind of future are we building for our nation?
Policy makers regularly talk about how important it is to have good schools, but there's no follow through on their part. They blame schools for low achievement, but don't accept their responsibility for the high levels of poverty in the nation, the main cause of low achievement.
Schools...the education of our citizens...is not a high priority for this nation, despite the rhetoric. Jefferson said, "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people." If that's true, then the nation is in jeopardy.
The late Carl Sagan had this to say more than 25 years ago...
...we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line.
What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society, as resentful for the injustice served up to them. This is stupid.
This is the latest and longest of the videos I posted this year. It's an important one because, despite ESSA, many teachers and schools around the nation are still judged by the test scores of their students, a practice which Dr. Berliner says is invalid. He also discusses the fact that outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wanted to carry the process one step further and evaluate schools of education by the test scores of their students' students.
We're using standardized achievement tests incorrectly. They are invalid as a measure of teacher competence, school quality, and teacher training program effectiveness. The discussion of whether or not to use this year's ISTEP tests to evaluate teachers and schools is irrelevant. We shouldn't be using any standardized student achievement test to evaluate teachers or schools.
Student achievement tests measure only student achievement.
David C Berliner's presentation is titled Teacher evaluation and standardised tests: A policy fiasco. You can read about the video presentation by Dr. Berliner at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education web site and watch the hour-long video below.
Teachers and teacher preparation programs are perfect targets to take legislators minds off of all the poverty and inequality that make some of America's education systems an international embarrassment. Blaming teacher education programs and the teachers they produce for disappointing standardized achievement test scores appears to me to be a diversion, of the type used by successful magicians. Blaming institutions and individual teachers directs our gaze away from the inequality and poverty that actually gives rise to those scores. In the same way a magician can divert attention of an entire audience when they make a person or a rabbit disappear.