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Monday, August 23, 2010

being left behind

     No Child left behind, Ha, what a joke.  More like every child in Tennessee left behind.  It has been rumored for years that the south has some of the lowest test scores in the nation.  That really doesn't mean much to most of us because we all turned out ok.  But now all of a sudden in 2009 the state decided that Tennessee should start adhering to and testing by the national standards.  They did not slowly trickle this initiative up starting in elementary schools, moving to middle schools and fully implementing in high school after a few years, they decided to throw it at us.  What this did, is basically make every child miss one year or so of school.  What was taught in the eighth grade is now taught in sixth and eighth graders were all of a sudden in pre algebra.  This hurt all children but for the children in inner city schools who were already 'left behind' it hurt them and their teachers the most.
     With this change of standards and testing, no one told the teachers what to prepare for, what to teach or even how many questions would be on the test.  We were all driving blind.  Now the people in high places are pointing fingers like we are horrible teachers, schools are in danger of being shut down, principals are being removed and teachers being fired.  Yes teachers are now measured by how much their students grow in a years time.  Well, obviously with these new standards and the new test, it looks like the students have not only not grown but regressed.  It is not because they have bad teachers the students are not getting dumber there are simply more idiots in places of power!!  DUH  I say you make the test harder the standards more rigorous and leave everyone in the dark about what to expect, what do you think is going to happen??  They set us up for failure!!!!
      I just left a faculty meeting where my principal got chewed out by higher powers because we had very low scores on last years formative assessment.  Well they look low, but if you compare them to the previous years scores our students are growing, they are learning they are leaving middle school knowing how to do math and being able to read and comprehend.  Even with the new standards and more rigorous curriculum they made gains until the new cut scores, the national scores, were put out.  Now every student in our district is below proficient, but was it their fault??  Was it the teachers fault, in some cases maybe,  or were we all dealt a hand of injustice by someone trying to make a bigger paycheck.
     Our school is an inner city school, people are getting killed robbed and sent to jail all around us.  The school is the safe haven.  Should we the teachers be discarded because the elementary teachers gave up on our students??  My worry is that even after working out asses off for three years in a row and staying off "the list"  We have now fallen right back onto it.  If They deem me as an unfit teacher and fire me will I be able to find another job?  Remember this is inner city children we are dealing with.  Not students who have mothers to remind them to grab their backpack or remember to do their homework.  making any progress is good progress. The score in Math before I taught there was 53%  my first year as a teacher it went up to 76%  the next 80%.
    I am confident that in a different setting I could have much higher scores.  But i love the children I serve, the children who need me, the children who have taught me soo much.  Would I like to teach in a school where the demands are not so high??  Sure I have thought about it, who wouldn't but in the end those children have parents at home that love them and will make sure they get what they need.  It takes a special teacher to teach in the inner city, teachers who care, who do not judge, and are willing to play multiple roles; mom, teacher, and sometimes friend.  Will anyone look at my background and take into consideration I chose this challenge, if my school is shut down or i am fired?  Or will my four years of college and my four years of blood, sweat and tears be thrown to wayside and leave me searching for another calling in life??

1 comment:

  1. I agree with much of what you've said here. In all honesty, I think that the tests in general say very little about what students are learning and how likely they will be to succeed in schools. For years there have been people standing in opposition to exams like the SATs and the ACTs being used as indicators to show whether or not students are "college-ready." I remember that my senior year of high school I was surprised to find that many of the colleges to which I applied claimed to be more focused on what students actually did in school rather than their test scores. Yet now, only 5 years later, standardized testing has become the most prominent focus in schools. But what do they say? Not a whole lot. For instance, the language arts/English standards require students to be able to identify simile, metaphor, personification, and so forth. While it certainly is important to know these things, being able to identify them really means nothing. The reason that we learned things like this before state assessments came around was to help us with comprehension. So what if you can look at a simile and know that it is a simile because it has the word "like" or "as?" What really matters is that you can say, "Oh, well this author is comparing these two things in this manner, and therefore he intends to say this." But that is NOT what we are teaching our students, and instead of them gaining a deeper understanding of how to comprehend a text, they simply learn how to spit out things that they memorized.

    It's just not right.