THIS ‘n’ THAT On Education

State Superintendent of School Woods:”In our pursuit of accountability, we cannot allow ourselves to dehumanize our students and teachers. The handprints on the walls of Trion City Schools serve as a constant reminder that students are individuals with individual hopes and dreams – and individual needs and challenges. Only working together can we achieve our goal of teaching each child based on their individual needs”

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Beautifully stated by State Superintendent of Schools Woods.

Yes, “in our pursuit of accountability, we cannot allow ourselves to dehumanize our students and teachers.”  I will go further to state that, if we ever do that to students and teachers, we will have crushed the very raison d’etre of education, itself.

I must repost my post from the last thread here:

“Profit-making has NO place in public education.  Whenever profit is the main focus, then there will be too much priority on competition, not cooperation.  Whenever profit is the main focus, and competition is the outcome, then cut-throat tactics surface. Cut-throat tactics have NO place in the public education of children.”

http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/13/is-georgias-school-superintendent-now-a-goodwill-ambassador-rather-than-policy-leader/

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 Teacher, Mrs. Fouraker: “I believe in cultural literacy, the fact there are certain things every citizen of the United States should at least be exposed to, in order to truly understand our culture and succeed in our society.”

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I totally agree with Mrs. Fouraker’s statement, above. Not enough value is placed on cultural literacy in education in today’s world, but society will swing back to understanding that literacy is probably more important than understanding science and math for human beings to create a peaceful, educated world.

I agree with Mrs. Fouraker’s thoughts expressed in her letter to legislators.  I was a high school English teacher before I earned a M.Ed. as a Reading Specialist. As a Reading Specialist, I learned how to be a reading diagnostician to insure better the individual success of every student than I had understood as an English teacher.  Reading skills affect every curriculum area, including mathematics.  I agree with those who praised the Iowa Test of Basic Skills because that test gave a grade-level reading score for every student regardless of the actual grade level that student was assigned.  One diagnostic test, such as the ITBS, should be enough testing in schools (for the year) to chart the academic growth of every student from year to year in basic reading and math skills. However, educators must be trained in how to utilize those test results to know how to instruct with precision to each student’s ability to comprehend what they are reading in every course. Reading-in-the content-area should be a part of every teacher’s curriculum course requirement.

Next,  more on the political aspect of WHY so much testing has been initiated in the United States in education in the past dozen years.

MaryElizabethSings:

Those who have political savvy understand that the libertarian Republicans of the past 40 years who have wanted to privatize most “government” public service agencies and institutions (by cutting government, including cutting government employees, to the bare minimum), have followed the goals of the powerful and wealthy political ideologues of power in America.

About 12 to 15 years ago, these powerful conservative ideologues targeted public “government” education as THE public institution next to dismantle and make private (for profit, in large part, using education tax dollars).  The game plan was to “expose” the “failure” of the public schools by testing every student often as a part of No Child Left Behind (President George W. Bush’s creation).  The goal set for public education by these conservative politicians was to have 100% of students on grade level in 10 years.  Those ten years have come and gone and that unrealistic education goal has not been achieved (as I knew it would not be when it was set by politicians, instead of educators, who know little about the individual academic development of children).

The cynical political idea was to use those poor test scores to disparage public “government” education and public school teachers.  Well, they have achieved that goal, but they have only destroyed not built education because they do not understand that the educating of young minds should not be following a business model of statistics and test scores for the purpose of dismissing teachers and changing the very nature of the educational “leading out” process. Maybe many of these politicians have meant well, but they have not had any sophisticated instructional knowledge and they have been wreaking havoc on our public schools in trying to turn them into a business model for profit.

True story:  Last evening, I noticed that a link (as a comment) had been placed on my blog’s entry about how to achieve instructional delivery for students who are functioning on different grade levels in the same grade.  I decided to preview the link before I decided whether to authorize its publication on my blog.  It started out very well done with visually showing teachers how to set up differing groups in their classes.  Then, it gave curriculum objectives and lessons for teaching those objectives through activities.  The video was produced in state-of-the-art visual and vocal expertise.  However, I was wondering how this program aligned itself with vetted state Boards of Education curriculum requirement, so I dug deeper. That private educational production company had held an outdoor outing to promote its “educational” product, just as business does in marketing.  One of the sentences from a person of authority said to the owners of this business, I hope the outing will make you a good PROFIT.  I trashed the link so that readers to my blog would not be exposed to such blatant profiteering at the expense of public education.

http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/10/a-teachers-plea-to-georgia-lawmakers-lessen-testing-so-we-can-return-to-teaching/

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From: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/10/a-teachers-plea-to-georgia-lawmakers-lessen-testing-so-we-can-return-to-teaching/

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MaryElizabethSings

MaryElizabethSings 

@ScienceTeacher671

My best way to answer that is to restate what Jerry Eads wrote to Maureen about the tests, themselves, a day ago on this thread (Jerry is an expert in test making):

“The misunderstanding is that we think these tests actually measure anything important enough to doom otherwise good students with graduation denial with absolutely (not almost) no data supporting the tests’ viability. So, we’re not asking too much or too little of kids with them, we’re asking the wrong things. Whether or not students are being prepared adequately to be productive citizens is always an important discussion. The answer, however, is not a few incredibly poorly made fifty minute minimum competency tests. Even if someone cares nothing of other human lives, one could be concerned about the enormous cost to society for the (again) arbitrary and capricious denial of a high school diploma.”

Moreover, as a certified Reading Specialist and teacher, I know how students passed enough courses to receive a high school diploma, yet failed to pass one of the sections of the GHSGT.  Here is how I explained that to ‘Living-in-an-outdated-ed” a day ago:

“Students may pass courses because they understand enough of the content, listen in class, and do their homework, but some of their literacy levels may be low enough that they to not understand test-written questions on standardized tests because their backgrounds, and their parents and grandparents backgrounds, have not been literate backgrounds (This has nothing to do with their innate intelligence, btw.)”

MaryElizabethSings

MaryElizabethSings

@ScienceTeacher671

My best way to answer that is to restate what Jerry Eads wrote to Maureen about the tests, themselves, a day ago on this thread (Jerry is an expert in test making):

“The misunderstanding is that we think these tests actually measure anything important enough to doom otherwise good students with graduation denial with absolutely (not almost) no data supporting the tests’ viability. So, we’re not asking too much or too little of kids with them, we’re asking the wrong things. Whether or not students are being prepared adequately to be productive citizens is always an important discussion. The answer, however, is not a few incredibly poorly made fifty minute minimum competency tests. Even if someone cares nothing of other human lives, one could be concerned about the enormous cost to society for the (again) arbitrary and capricious denial of a high school diploma.”

Moreover, as a certified Reading Specialist and teacher, I know how students passed enough courses to receive a high school diploma, yet failed to pass one of the sections of the GHSGT.  Here is how I explained that to ‘Living-in-an-outdated-ed” a day ago:

“Students may pass courses because they understand enough of the content, listen in class, and do their homework, but some of their literacy levels may be low enough that they to not understand test-written questions on standardized tests because their backgrounds, and their parents and grandparents backgrounds, have not been literate backgrounds (This has nothing to do with their innate intelligence, btw.)”

Finally, the absurdity lies with the fact that the students are given 5 chances to pass the test and can be given a “variance” if their score was within “a certain percentage,” after the 5th attempt, yet they cannot be given that “variance” after 3 attempts or even 4 attempts – even when they passed courses in that same curriculum area.  Who is playing God in the State DOE to assign that number of retakes to the arbitrary (?) number of 5?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@ScienceTeacher671

My plea was to have citizens realize that generational poverty – in which literacy has not been a priority in families in Georgia for generations but that survival has been their priority because of poverty – has impeded the reading comprehension skills of many students because of the formalized structure of the English language placed within standardized test items.  Nevertheless, many of those same students who failed those GHSGT could tell you the answers to many of those same curriculum test questions (math included) if the questions were phrased in colloquial English or asked through verbal, not written, language.

ScienceTeacher671  

@MaryElizabethSings

 Sounds sort of like “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

MaryElizabethSings

MaryElizabethSings  

@ScienceTeacher671

To the contrary, I always had the highest expectations of every student I ever taught and every student I monitored in a school.  I simply wanted the wisdom to know what was impeding each student’s full development to his own potential so that I could address it, or show teachers how to address the problem(s), with competency, care and instructional precision.

 

MaryElizabethSings  

@redweather

Because I loved teaching college level vocabulary and the ideas contained in comprehension passages found on practice SATs, rarely were my students bored or inattentive and I didn’t have discipline problems.  Many might have thought that subject matter might bore some students, but I will give testimony to the fact that if a teacher loves her subject matter, has an enthusiastic desire to communicate that knowledge to her students and watch them grow into their own understandings of that content (as well as loves her students), students are rarely bored or inattentive.  That has been my experience.

However, as many know, during the first few weeks of each quarter, I made certain that every student I taught was functioning high enough in verbal skills to at least pass the Advanced Reading course.  If not, through having analyzed the standardized reading test scores of those students who were failing my weekly vocabulary tests, I could assess who was presently misplaced in Advanced Reading. Then, I spoke with the students, the parents, and the counselors, and had those misplaced students rescheduled for our Personalized Reading course, taught by another Reading Specialist until those students could master the curriculum in Advanced Reading.  Many, later, did qualify for Advanced Reading after they had progressed in their verbal skills.  I do not recall any student or parent rejecting my suggestion for a movement to Personalized Reading because I shared the data and my reasoning with students, their parents, and the counselors before moves were made.  So, having all of my students well placed was another reason that my students were rarely bored or inattentive to the curriculum I taught them.  In fact, truthfully, they were hungry to learn the content.  That’s what having every student well placed according to his or her correct instructional level will do.

http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/05/did-states-high-school-graduation-test-hurt-students-was-it-a-bad-test/

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