June 23, 2012

Am I an awful teacher or a great one?

The new trend in public education is to measure teacher accountability, based on standardized test results. Using this year's results, the state of Ohio must deem me an awful teacher. Wait a minute, Ohio must think I'm a great teacher. Hmm., which am I?

The list of problems with this ill-conceived system is far too long to place in one blog  post, so I'll discuss the one issue that would top the list that makes teacher accountability based on a test impossible.

I call this issue, uncontrollable factors.

For example, one of my students who failed the reading test -- solely my fault, according to the state of Ohio -- had many personal problems that severely minimized her interest in language arts and other subjects. She missed 25 days of school. She was suspended from school four times. She received 14 grades of D or F on her report card throughout the year. Her parents never responded to any of my innumerable calls during the second half of the year.

While my average student read 28 books during the school year, she read two.What could possibly motivate this child to put in her best effort on a two and a half hour reading test?

Conversely, I have many students who scored close to perfect on the reading test. They are avid readers, scholar-athletes, student government leaders and have marvelous parents who encourage a love of  learning both in and out of school. According to the state of Ohio, I am solely responsible for their fine efforts on the achievement test.

I have little, if any, control over the out-of-class lives of either the poor students or the excellent ones.

So, am I an awful teacher or am I a great one?