Category Archives: Teacher Evaluation

HIGH STAKES TESTING: Education System Malpractice and Mental Abuse… Some Humans Have Lost Their Damn Minds

This Story Comes From Clayton County Georgia

Warning: After reading this story, the reflux to vomit may take over.

Report from a Clayton County Teacher

“Yesterday, before and after testing, a colleague who is a first year third grade teacher lost her damn mind. She assaulted a third grade student of hers and told him he was dumb, shouldn’t have been in the room testing because he was going to bring her scores down. She berated him and the class telling them they were going to cause her to lose her certification.

This young first year teacher said, “Unless they have $50,000 to pay for her teaching certificate, they had better score well.”

She was furious 50% of her evaluation was dependent on “stupid third graders”.

The boy was reduced to tears and promptly vomited all over the floor.

Her colleagues refused to report the unprofessional, abusive, and vicious behavior yesterday.

This test… Georgia Milestones… is destroying our kids”.

This System is Breaking Kids and Teachers

Yep.

It sure is.

I’m outraged.

As an E D U C A T O R and P A R E N T…

I. Refuse. To. Be. Silent.

breaking silence

Shame on the U.S. Department of Education

Shame on all legislators who continue to vote for this abuse.

Shame on any educator at any level who believes these tests are valid.

Shame on School Boards at the local and state levels who promote these tests.

Shame on all the lies and propaganda and rhetoric being spread and paid for by the corrupt Oligarchy.

Puke.

Gag.

Teachers are being forced to give these tests to children who are not ready. Teachers know the students do not understand the skills or concepts, yet are forced to deliver these outrageous assessments. Teachers are being told it is their fault if their students don’t meet the standard. (Flawed standards). Teachers lose their jobs when their evaluations are based on these tests… tests with reading levels above the children’s grade assignment and questions demanding high levels of analysis.

Mental Abuse.

These tests put everyone involved in the pressure cooker.

Eventually an explosion happens.

The Joy of Learning

No Teacher Should Feel Pressed to this Point of Breaking

“Parents MUST BE THE ONES to make this testing stop. Teachers cannot control this. I 100% in no way condone the actions, words, etc of this teacher, but I can tell you I understand the PLACE she was pushed to and that is not within her control. How she handles the weight is certainly something she has to work on, but these teachers need parents advocating, demanding, and speaking up… ‘We won’t stand for our children or teachers to be put through this abuse’!” –Georgia Parent of a 4th Grader

The Testing Bomb

nuclear bombWho built this Testing Bomb?

Who placed the Bomb in our schools?

Who asked teachers to hold the Bomb?

If the Bomb goes off, who is to blame?

Passionately Submitted,

 RAZ ON FIRE

 

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I Do NOT Choose Misery… I Choose the TRUTH

On October 9, 2015, 2400 Spokane School District employees sat in front of a screen in each of their respective buildings. They received 7 hours of training via a Webinar and were given a 30 minute lunch. Teachers were told with force the day before, “You must be in your seats by 8:00 a.m.  You may not be late.  You will be given 30 minutes to eat.  It is highly recommended you bring a lunch and do not leave the building for your lunch because you will be expected to be in your seats promptly at the end of the 30 minutes.  You may not leave until 3:30. The District is keeping very close tabs on this time schedule.”

The bulk of the training was around TPEP, the new teacher evaluation system. Teachers sat before a screen and listened to district personnel explain to them the requirements of being an “applying” or “innovative” teacher. The message was clear that teachers needed several data points to prove their students had mastered certain skills and concepts. Amplify was listed as one of those data points. Amplify Testing is now being subtly pushed to be used and linked to teacher performance.  If you are interested in Amplify’s history you can read my chronological compilation here: Amplify… A Modern Day Medusa.

It must be realized the tremendous pressure educators are under. I watched the look on many teachers faces throughout the day. Their training, their creativity, their innovative abilities, their love of children, their knowledge of child development… is being discounted and ignored. It must be understood how the mandates from the Federal, State, and District Level are impacting classrooms. Understand, if anyone desires to see changes in our schools, attendance at school board meetings, willingness to speak at school board meetings, and voting in new school board directors who are willing to be out in the schools, listening and learning what educators and children need… will ALL be critical.

The Cost

I also did some math. 2400 hundred district employees were paid for attending this training. Considering per diem rates range from $222.00 to $366.00 a day per employee, I multiplied 2400 X $300 (close average). It cost the school district somewhere around $720,000 dollars for this one day training. This is tax payer dollars at work. Many educators felt demeaned, devalued, and slapped in the face.

I was mandated to be at this training although I am not on TPEP and have received much of the same training over the past three years. I was told I had to be at the training so I would “know what the teachers are going through and know how to help them.”  With all due respect, I am quite clear on exactly what teachers are going through at this time in Public Education.  I’m in their classrooms.  Their autonomy to do what is right for children is being squelched as they are handcuffed with the Federal, State, and District mandates.

The Hidden Cost

The morale of the teachers.

The Parallel Between SBA and TPEP

As I sat obediently listening, my mind drew a parallel. Educators are spending hours on test prep. This is robbing children of precious instructional hours to get ready for a state evaluation: The SBA (Smarter Balanced Assessment). Yesterday robbed teachers of planning time to prep and design quality lessons for children. This training deprived teachers from receiving professional development they personally needed to improve their instructional practice. Why? To prep the educator for the state teacher evaluation system: TPEP.

The full focus has become TEST PREP,  EVALUTION PREP and DATA.

NoteSome teachers did need the training on TPEP yesterday.  They are new to this evaluation system and appreciated the time.  The presenter did the best she could with what she was mandated to deliver to us.  I am positive she worked hard. However, many of us, would have preferred to stay home and save the tax payer the per diem pay, OR had the option to choose other professional development.  Many of us have sat through these Webinars and Power Points on TPEP multiple times over the past three years.  Not only was it a bad form of Professional Development, it was not necessary to insult our intelligence and assume we needed the repetition.  Many of the slides in the Power Point were read to us. We sat.  We listened.

“Obedient”.

“Good boys and girls”.

Teachers thinking for themselves

What are Teachers Expected to be Learning and Implementing in the Classroom Right Now?

Let’s examine a list at the Elementary Level:

  1. Journeys (Year Two of the adopted ELA program, but many are first year teachers or new to the district)
  2. EngageNY Math (You may see Eureka at the bottom of the worksheets.  Same Same.  This is a math program that has not been researched.  It is not differentiated.  It is scripted.  It does not align with any mathematical instructional best practices regarding how children learn mathematics.  It does not meet the needs of special needs children.  It does not meet the needs of English Language Learners.  It does not meet the needs of children who enter the classroom several grade levels behind.  Many teachers are floundering trying to implement this program in ways children can access the math)
  3. AVID (A College and Career Readiness Program)
  4. Why Try (A Mindset Program)
  5. Data Study (Five Schools have hired a .5 Data Coach.  The teachers involved in the study are required to attend many additional meetings as well as implement the requirements of the program.)
  6. Amplify Testing (Teachers will need to learn this new testing program, learn new rubrics (designed by non-educators), score performance tasks, enter in the student data, have additional meetings to interpret the data, and include it in their TPEP, teacher evaluation worksheets.)
  7. New Science Standards, Topics and Kits
  8. Social Studies Standards (currently with no program, but with a new program coming soon.)
  9. A new Extended Day Program in which children are in and out of the classroom daily as learning has become more and more compartmentalized and teachers have less and less solid blocks of time to teach a consistent cycle of lessons.  (Something required by TPEP)
  10. TPEP (The Teacher Evaluation System)  which involves 4 Domains, 8 Criterion, 62 Elements, various Components, Segments, and Driving Questions.
  11. And there is more…

Survival Mode

Ever Wonder Why Teachers are Choosing to Leave the Profession?

Ever Wonder Why There is Talk of a Looming Teacher Shortage?

As I drove away from the training the following was spinning through my mind:

Data Data Data. The world will not turn without data. Children can’t learn without data. People can’t eat without data. Schools can’t function without data. Teachers can’t lesson plan without data.  Teachers don’t know how to teach without data.

Data… how did we ever survive before data?

Bill Gates, in the Road Ahead, stated simply, “Data is power, he who controls the data has the power.” That was 10+ years ago. Kids are being tracked cradle to career. They now have the platforms (Amplify to name one) to forecast children’s capabilities for the state labor force… whether scientific or manual. Teachers are not to teach as an art, but to teach to keep the cogs in the machine moving.

My “favorite” message from the training, “We (The District) need your data so we can help you grow.”

Right behind that one, my second “favorite”, was the fifth norm presented at the beginning of the all day Webinar: MISERY IS OPTIONAL.

Hmmmm…  first time I’ve encountered this “norm” in any meeting I have ever attended in 26 years of being an educator.  This begs the question, “Why would The District front load the 6 hour Webinar with this norm?”

Think about it.

Ever read or watched The Divergent Series?  Or how about The Hunger Games… and President Snow of The Capital?

I do NOT choose misery. I choose the TRUTH.

“People are getting rich from data. This is a money grab. How many start ups and software companies are producing apps for CCSS (Common Core State Standards) and Test Prep? More than we can keep up with. They are still perpetuating the lie that US kids are behind the global curve. It’s a crock of $×÷$÷!” -A Spokane Parent (Sent to me October 9, 2015)

I’m Divergent.

I was educated Pre-Common Core, and was taught to think outside the four corners of the text.

The result: I think outside the four corners of the screen too.

Will you?

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:Spokane Assessment

  1. Spokane School District is not shy about Data Collection.  Meet “Quasar’… The “never ending forming galaxy of data!”

Spokane School District’s Assessment Page: Assessment and Program Effectiveness

    2.  What is the Core Really For?

ALL Babies Walking By Six Months Old… A Satire on the Common Core Charade.

“A Lie cannot live.” – Dr. Martin Luther King

Omission 2

Race To The Stadium (RTTS) established

A group of professional sports team owners and product sponsors decided the United States was losing ground globally in producing high quality athletes…. so they met with The President and the National Secretary of the Department of Sports to convince them to set new athletic policies. Soon after, the new RTTS (Race To The Stadium) was established.   A committee was selected to write new and rigorous standards starting from womb to stadium.

A handpicked group of professional team owners and employees of national product sponsors were selected to establish the new standards. A few adult level doctors were also added. Written in under a year, they were rolled out to the state Governors and the State Superintendents of Department of Sports. In order for the new Common Sport State Standards (CSSS) to be adopted, only the Governor and State Superintendent needed to sign.

Two signatures.

Bam!

It was then pushed through the State House of Representatives and the State Senate with little time for review or public input. In fact, these standards were pushed upon the states by the federal government and the National Department of Sports. This was not initiated by the people or for the people….

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”   Abraham Lincoln

Putting the values of the United States Republic aside, if the two governing officials signed the CSSS into law, a stimulus package of money arrived from the federal government to implement the new standards. If not signed, money was denied and/or removed.   “Naughty” were the states who did not sign on.

Naughty, Naughty. “You will leave your babies behind.”

Some Governors later admitted they were asked to sign the document before the final draft of the standards was completed, but… I guess this is beside the point.

The State Superintendent also needed to sign the document. No committees formed. No review process. No early childhood physical therapists consulted. No pediatricians consulted. No athletes gave input.

Definitely no parents. “What do they know?

About a year after the State Superintendent signed the standards into law, a soft roll out to parents and pediatrician offices was initiated so enough time would be given to prepare their homes and offices. New baby materials, sports products, and technical support would need to be purchased to assist in helping the babies achieve the new standards.

Here were the new early babyhood Common Sports State Standards (CSSS):

  1. All children shall walk by 6 months old.
  2. All children shall run by 6.5 months old.
  3. All children shall do summersaults by 7 months old.
  4. All children shall do cartwheels by 7.5 months old.

It was ensured, by adhering to these rigorous standards, ALL babies would be on track for the Olympics and/or professional athleticism. No one questioned the age appropriate sports standards. No one questioned who wrote the standards… and those who did, in any way, were looked down upon.   Many, at first, even believed these standards were appropriate, necessary, and the answer to preparing the babies for a solid future in professional athletics and quite possibly a turn in the Olympic Games.

In the beginning, very few realized the standards were written by the owners of handpicked professional teams and the high ranking employees of the favored brand name sports products… like… hmmmmm….Nike, Gatorade, 5 Hour Energy… these well intended people, of course, really desired to start our babies off on the right foot. (No pun intended).

Next, a nationwide curriculum, specifically designed for parent use, was written by the same people… contracts were drawn up, with undisclosed amounts of money to be paid to them. This curriculum was accessible to parents once they bought a tablet. This tablet was the only platform that could run the software. If they followed the steps perfectly, the parents were promised their children would accomplish these high and rigorous goals.

Interested in following the money?:  Ten Common Core Promoters Laughing All The Way To The Bank.Money eye

Parents followed the lock step programs, using the accepted products only,  and pediatricians tracked their patient’s progress and entered weekly progress into a data tracking system to help parents target certain muscle groups that were failing in their babies legs.

Gill Bates, of course, in all of his athletic background and expertise, paid $200,000,000 to the committee to write the standards. The standards started at one day old. Each day, starting at day one, a lock step, scripted walking curriculum was established…incorporating all the sports baby products sold by the very writers of the CSSS.

Next, knowing the standards needed to be embraced and accepted by the masses, Bates, the athletic expert, also paid at least $200,000,000 for the promotion and advertisement of these new and rigorous baby standards… AND… do not forget… he also funded, through grants, the development of the software for the tablets for parental use.   Just imagine the profits $$$$$ made after every parent purchased one of these tablets.

Interestingly, even Gill Bates admitted the success of the new CSSS wouldn’t be known for 10 years. Listen at 45:22 in his speech at Harvard, “It will take 10 years to know if this “sport” stuff will work.”   Watch it (here).

The signs of implementation were clearly seen, as anyone driving through the majority of communities across the nation, or observing activity in local parks, saw no children playing or mommy’s pushing babies in strollers. Most were home practicing and following the programed script to ensure their child was walking on time. They didn’t want to “leave their babies behind” or to the doom of factory work for Nike.  Rather their dream was for their child to have the best chance of wearing the Nike gear out on the court as an athlete.

With time, many parents became frustrated with the script, and called their pediatrician’s office with their complaints. “This isn’t working.” Or “Johnny isn’t responding to lesson 6.” Or “My baby failed the three month module test, what do I do next?” Having the pressure themselves to ensure all their patients walked on their 6 month Birthday, the pediatricians continued to encourage integrity to the national walking program.

The pressure mounted.

Each parent knew they were required to take their child to a Smarter Balanced Athletic Testing Center to be analyzed by their Certified Pediatrician. The Pediatricians had checklists full of Criterion, Domains, Components, and Elements… with detailed rubrics (oops, I mean scales) to be tracked. All total there were 41 Elements within the Domains through the Elements based on the Components they would be judged upon whether they met the Criterion. The parent was given an evaluation based on all of this. Within the first 6 months of the baby’s life, the parent had four formal observations to determine if they were accomplishing the 41 Elements within the Domains through the Elements based on the Components and whether they were on track to meet the Criterion.

It was all a little confusing.

Confused BabyThe parents were informed, by Senate Bill 5946, if their child was not walking by the exact date of 6 months old, they would lose their child for 3 hours a day to a state run walking school with the goal of closing the walking gap. Soon there were walking schools springing up throughout the land, filled with state trained certified walking specialists holding the “key” to successful walking.

In a private meeting, the Smarter Balanced Athletic Consortium (SBAC) met, to establish what level of walking would be acceptable to pass the 6 month walking mark.  They based the cut scores on the previous year’s field test done on countless babies throughout the land. The cut score was publicized and revealed approximately 30% of the children would indeed be able to walk by the 6 month mark. However, 70% would fail.

The parent’s fears grew.   They wanted the best for their babies, and not passing the Smarter Balanced Athletic Test would doom their babies to a life slaving in the Nike and Gatorade Factories, or worse yet, peddling 5 Hour Energy Drinks in local stores.

The state run walking schools were prepared, however, and remedial walking programs were written and sold to these schools by the very same company who designed the Smarter Balanced Athletic Test.

The Pressure Mounted.

District Doctor’s Offices, overseeing the Pediatricians, hired testing coordinators. The coordinators found practice walking interim assessments with checkpoint assessments in between the practice interim assessments. Parents could administer these practice tests in their own homes to prepare for the ultimate Smarter Balanced Athletic Test. The data was uploaded to the District Doctor’s Offices in order to follow each baby, parent, and pediatrician and keep track of who was performing well.

Next, Walking Specialists were hired to assist parents in how to implement the tablet run Walking Program and answer the questions that continued to arise. The Walking Specialists were also able to help the parents look at the data from the interim tests and the checkpoints in between the interim tests. This assisted the parents to better understand how to target specific muscle areas needing stimulation, and established next steps for their baby in order to ensure their success on the Smarter Balanced Athletic Test.

The end goal for all, no matter what level they served in the Sporting System, was to get the baby to….

Pass.   The.   TEST.

The Pressure Escalated.

As the parents implemented the new Walking Program, they were informed and mandated to attend several evening professional development classes in order for them to understand the new Parental Evaluation System. You know, the one in which they had to show evidence of the 41 Elements within the Domains through the Elements based on the Components to see whether they were on track to meet the Criterion?

Baby said, “Eh?”

Their checklists looked much like the following:  TPEP List 3

Harder still, the parents had been mandated by the state to utilize a new Nutritional Program and Eating Schedule, (written by 5 Hour Energy), for their babies that was entirely different than the one used before. So… now… they were implementing the new Walking Program which included utilizing a new technology with the tablets, establishing a new Nutritional Program and Eating Schedule for their babies (thanks 5 Hour Energy!), as well as learning how they would be evaluated upon these things… all at the same time.

Sheesh!

Who would have dared question this charade?

 It was a Race To The Stadium…

 The Pressure Continued to Mount.

The Pediatricians were “under the gun” too. They were also judged and evaluated by similar criterion, much like the parents. Percentages of pass rates of his/her patients were logged and tracked into CEDARS, the state data bank. The data was then uploaded to The Feds. FERPA laws were loosened, so data could be released to third party vendors. Every pediatrician… every parent… every baby followed…

Data Tracking of Children.....Tracked.
Data logged.
National Baby IDs established.
The following link shows how to access the National IDs and how the FERPA laws have been loosened.  Click (here).

If the Pediatrician’s percentage rate was found failing, the state closed the doctor’s practice, and brought in their own set of better trained, “higher quality” doctors to run the offices.  All at tax payer expense of course.

Sadly, the pediatricians were tied to their desks, entering their evaluation data into computers from the four observations of each parent capturing the 41 Elements within the Domains through the Elements based on the Components to see whether they were on track to meet the Criterion.

Baby said, “Eh?”

The actual time with their patients decreased significantly because most had anywhere from 45 – 100 parents to track times four in a sixth month period.  (There’s some mathematics for you!)

Note… this was a “growth model” with the full purpose of helping the parents become better at teaching their babies to walk.

Again Gill Bates got involved, and helped fund Pediatrician For America (PFA). This program allowed those with a bachelor degree to be put in five week crash courses to become Pediatricians. After all, most were young and willing to follow the script and do exactly what they were told. Another benefit to the PFA, was the lower end salaries paid to these new doctors due to their placement on the salary schedule.  Additionally, this was considered a good thing because many of the traditionally educated Pediatricians were leaving the field and Pediatrician shortages became a real problem.

Sadly, the PFA program began to collapse too, as most PFA doctors gave only two years of their lives to helping babies walk before moving on to other jobs that became their real careers.

The Pressure Increased.

In the beginning stages of the implementation of the CSSS (Common Sports State Standards), it was decided the parents needed to incorporate a new sleep therapy program. New “research” had come out stating babies with strict sleep schedules were better able to practice their leg exercises each day to prepare for walking. The parents again, were called to more professional development in the evening to understand the strict sleeping program and how to adhere to it without waiver. Boxes arrived to their homes.   They cleared out hall closets to make room for all the resources arriving from the state.

The Pressure Point of Collapse Loomed.

A few parents and a few pediatricians started to raise some questions. They were scorned. Didn’t they understand these national Common Sport State Standards were written by experts in the field and necessary to prepare babies for the Olympics and Professional Sports? Didn’t they understand how critical it was to be able to compete globally with other countries producing star athletes?

The few parents and pediatricians grew in strength. They began to uncover the CSSS weren’t written by experts, but rather by the owners of professional sports teams and the product sponsors. Their voices grew.

In fact, in New York State alone, the Pediatricians wrote a letter of concern regarding the evaluation of parents by baby walking scores. It was signed by more than 1,535 New York pediatricians and more than 6,500 parents: Following The Common Core Money.  Where are Millions of Dollars Going?

Another joint document was written and signed by over 500 early baby specialists stating their concerns with the CSSS: (Joint Statement).

Still many states insisted on staying the course. Eyes shut. Ears closed.   A lot of officials made arguments the cost was already too high and there would be no way to abandon the CSSS.

Dr. Peg Luksik wrote, “When parents approach school districts or state legislatures with their concerns about the disasters occurring in Common Sport “homes” and ask that the program be stopped before even more damage is done to the education and self-esteem of America’s little ones, they are told that such a step would be irresponsible because of the huge amounts of money that have already been spent. So our “babies” will just have to “soldier on”.

Dr. Luksik went on to say:

The apparent success of that argument must have many other industries rethinking their approaches to problems.

Pharmaceutical companies who have been forced to stop production of a new drug that made it all the way to the final testing stage before the discovery of serious negative side effects could claim that they had already invested a great deal of money, so it would be “irresponsible” to stop production at this late date.

And companies that brought drugs into the marketplace, only to be faced with recall either because the drug had not been properly tested or unforeseen complications had arisen from its use, could make the same claim and avoid having to pull that product off the shelves.”

 Dr. Luksik makes more arguments for the halt of the CSSS despite the money spent so far.  She furthered her logical argument by mentioning how the auto industry may need to rethink how they go about business.  Baby Driving 2

A failing car?

No need for recalls.

After all… it cost too much to design the car, manufacture the car, and transport them to all the car dealerships.

Her full article can be found (here).


Fast forward ten years.

“Funny” thing…

Few pediatrician doctor’s offices exist. There are thousands and thousands of state run baby schools of walking. Parents are up in arms… protesting. Their babies no longer theirs.

And…

“Funny” thing…

Ten years later… The majority of 6 month old babies… stillaren’twalking.

Ingenious Experiment.

For Whom?
FOR WHOM?
Real or not real?Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games

This is the birth to kindergarten mental health interventions for babies. This is “research” for the early learning and the $1 billion Obama is funding for daycare and preschool.  See for yourself: Obama Targets Babies

Martin Luther King Graphic

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:

  1. HB 5946: http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5946&year=2013
  2. Teacher Evaluation Bill:  http://tpep-wa.org/about-tpep/legislation/essb-5895/

 

A Tale of Two Teachers… Comparing Teachers based on High Stakes Test… Lunacy

Comparing teachers based on one high stakes test that happens on one day in 180 days is an absolute form of lunacy.  Furthermore, linking teacher’s evaluations, even 10% of the evaluation,  on the high stakes test… still… another form of lunacy.

Looney Tunes 8

Here’s why:

Teacher A:  The school year starts with a class of 25 third graders.   Breakfasts in their bellies, clean clothes on their backs, and a night of solid sleep.   The initial screener shows 85% of them are already at standard in both reading and mathematics.   Twenty-one of them Caucasian, one African-American, two Hispanic, one Pakistani. Three students qualify for free and reduced lunch.  One student has an IEP and receives special education support services. Their parents from the middle to upper class consisting of educators, doctors, lawyers, etc…  The majority of homes have more than one computer, at least one iPad, and the children’s bedrooms are filled with books.  These children had an average of 1,000 more hours of lap time reading with their parents before they entered Kindergarten as compared to Teacher B’s students.  One thousand hours.   Through Kindergarten to this initial year of 3rd grade, the hours of time with text at home continues to far exceed Teacher B’s students.

Teacher B:  The school year starts with a class of 25 third graders.  Empty stomachs until they arrive to school 30 minutes early to eat breakfast, some with cleaned clothes, others wearing the same outfit from the day before with aromas of cigarette smoke wafting from them, and many without the necessary sleep to cognitively engage.   The initial screener shows 20% of the students are at standard in reading and mathematics.   Six of the students Marshallese, three students are refugees from Sudan and speak zero English, one Arab speaking student,  and two Russian speaking students with limited English, three Hispanic students, and ten Caucasian students.  All 25 students qualify for free and/or reduced lunch.  Many of these students also qualify to take home a grocery sack filled with meals on Fridays so there is food in their homes for the weekend.   Many of these students parents have combined incomes of less than $10,000-$20,000 a year.   It is rare to hear of any of the students who have computers at home, let alone an iPad.   They have had very little time on the lap of their parents reading, and their vocabulary substantially below Teacher A’s students.   Many students live in shelters, or have moved multiple times from apartment to apartment, and some homeless.  Stories from their lips of mommies and daddies in jail, or a night spent sleeping under a bridge until they can get into a shelter, empty cupboards, exposure to drugs, and parents losing their jobs… run rampant in Teacher B’s classroom.  Pretty Fairy Princess or Superman themed individual bedrooms rare, let alone a bookshelf to hold a book.

Looney Tunes 5The Clincher:

1) Teacher A and Teacher B both are expected, and may I venture to say are “required”, to get their students to standard by March/April as measured by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in which is taken on a computer.

2) This means the two teachers have September – March (maybe April) to teach and ensure all of their students are at standard by the testing date.   This is 6.5 – 7.5 months of instruction….. and remember the two week break in December?  So let’s just say these two teachers have 6-7 months to prepare their students for the big “TEST”.

3)  The big “TEST” (SBAC) is THE one and only measure used to determine if their students met the “rigorous” common core standards.

4)  Teacher A’s students have computers at home.   Teacher B’s don’t.   The test is on a computer.  Which set of students have the advantage here?

5)  The majority of Teacher A’s students came already at standard and she must close the gap from 85% to 100% meeting standard by the big “TEST” date.  Whereas, Teacher B must move her children from 20% to 100% in the same time period.

Anyone catching the drift here…..?

Looney Tunes 7

What school would you like to teach in, if you knew your teacher evaluation… how “good” of a teacher you are… was based on this big “TEST”?

Scores are published after SBAC, the big “TEST”.   Let’s just have some fun with some hypotheticals.  Shall we?

According to the No Child Left Behind Act, all children shall be at 100% on the big “TEST” or the teacher and the school are deemed a failure.   ALL children must achieve the same standards at the same time…. and 100% shall do so… “or else”!

Teacher A’s scores come back and 95% of her students scored proficient or above.   (A level 3 or 4)  An increase of 10%.

Teacher B’s scores come back and 55% of her students scored proficient or above. (A level 3 or 4) An increase of 35%.

What’s published in the newspaper?

Teacher A’s class/school rocks the big “TEST” with 95% of their students meeting standard or above. Yahoo!

Cheer!  Clap!  Amazing School!  Amazing Teachers!  Wow!

What a school!  Parents declare, “I want my kid to go to this school!”

Cheer!

Clap!

But…

Teacher B’s class/school is considered a complete failure.   The big “TEST” showed only 55% of the students were able to meet the standard.   This school is now put on “steps”.  They are given a probation year.  Eventually, the state comes in and overtakes the school, sometimes firing the whole staff, and replacing them with “better” teachers.

Or… of course… A charter school down the road can spring up, utilizing tax dollars, and experiment with the children… it  doesn’t matter that most of them close down eventually… but what the heck… keep giving it a try… see the tremendous “success” rate (here).

Looney Tunes 3The “or else”…..  the data from the big “TEST” (SBAC) is what is used to determine the success or failure of a school.   The 8-9 year olds have one day of testing on a computer in reading, one day in math, out of 180 days of school….  and this is how we measure a school’s success or failure?

Let’s put a microscope on this….

1)  According to the No Child Left Behind Act, BOTH schools are in failure.  Yep.  You did hear this right.   According to the No Child Left Behind Act all schools were to have ALL of their students to standard, 100% of them, by 2014.

2)  So….. Teacher A moved his/her children from 85% meeting standard to 95% meeting standard… and…  Teacher B moved his/her children from 20% to 55% meeting the standard.

May I stop and ask you to reread the conditions in Teacher B’s classroom verse Teacher A’s?

And… may I ask the question again… What gets published in the newspaper?  I forget.

Oh! Yeah… that’s right…

Only the end result.

Does Teacher B get any credit at all for moving 35% of her students to standard that weren’t there before?

So let’s get back to the original point…  Comparing teachers and/or linking a teacher’s evaluation to the big “TEST”…

Makes. No. Sense.

May I suggest another experiment?  Looney Tunes 1

After the scores are published and a teacher’s class scores analyzed for “success” in teaching let’s experiment:  The following year the two teachers swap classrooms.  Teacher A comes to Teacher B’s school.   Teacher B gets to teach at Teacher A’s school.

Can you predict what the scores will show?   Will Teacher A come to the 90% plus poverty school and raise the 20% meeting standard to the 95% she got before?   Will teacher B show incredible growth in his/her teaching ability because last year he/she had 55% of her students meeting standard and now he/she magically has 95% meeting standard?

The Tale of Two Teachers…

Let’s follow their paths.   Each year they swap schools.   Each year we look at the scores on the big “TEST”.   What will we find out?

The Finnish Swap

Finland’s Pasi Sahlberg is one of the world’s leading experts on school reform and the author of the best-selling Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”

He had the same idea about the teacher swap…  Let’s take Finnish teachers and bring them to the United States and let’s take United States teachers and  bring them to Finland and let them teach for five years.  What Pasi Sahlbert reveals may be quite surprising… In a five year time span, he says the United States teachers would be flourishing, where as the Finnish teachers most likely would quit before the five years were up…

Hmmm… I wonder why?

Read the article to find out (here).

A side note on National Board Certification:

In Washington State the legislatures approved paying National Board Certified Teachers a bonus of $5,090 and an additional $5,000 bonus if they would go to work in a high poverty school.  (70% or higher free/reduced lunch count)  This means they are paying an annual $10,090 bonus to attract “highly qualified” teachers to these schools.  I have devoted myself to high poverty schools for most of my career.  I just transferred to my current school in October which was given an F rating by the state of Washington.  Every classroom looks just like Teacher B’s.  What would draw a teacher to teach in a school with high poverty?  Ever think about this?

I have.

And I know the answer.

Heart.

Grit.

Tenacity.

Devotion.

Belief.

Heart.

When the SBAC scores come back after Spring of 2015, our first official year, I am pretty sure my school will be deemed a low performing school because the majority of the students will not meet the standard.  Especially after knowing the SBAC cut scores were set on November 17, 2014, in Washington State… for approximately 70% of our students to fail.  Just as Pasi Sahlbert reveals, there are outside factors that influence student performance… “small” things like, hmmmmmm…. let’s say poverty?

I know this…  Incredible teachers teach in my school.  Teachers with solid instructional practice.

Who could possibly think the SBAC is an accurate measure a teacher’s abilities?

I wonder some days if the $5,000 additional dollars is worth it?  There are a good many NBCTs in my building.  It is interesting to consider how many are asking if the additional bonus is worth it?  Does the state of Washington want to push us outside the door?  Anyone of us could apply for a transfer and teach in a more affluent school.  Imagine… having the majority of students walking in the door already at standard from the previous year, and ready to learn… and… according to the big, one day, high-stakes “TEST”,  the scores in this affluent classroom will supposedly show how much better of a teacher I am? Looney Tunes 4

Are ya kiddin’ me?

Looney Tunes.

Let’s put the big “TEST” itself under the microscope:

Who else is asking if the test items are appropriate and measure the Common Core Standards?  Who says this test is valid and reliable?  Not this (study).  Even SBAC admits they don’t know if its a valid measure of college readiness. Is this test developmentally appropriate?  Eight and nine year olds just learning to type are put on a computer and asked to explain their reasoning and write comparison analysis of text?

Really?

Yet some of our legislators and billionaire business men seem to think the big “TEST” will show who is teaching well and who isn’t.

Lunacy.

We would do well to learn some lessons from Finland.

Let’s expose this story of “The Tale of Two Teachers” and the idea of the teacher swap to anyone who thinks a teacher’s value can be based on a standardized test.

Can we put to rest once and for all that there are factors in our beautiful children, rich and poor, that affect their performance and come to us with varying degrees of understanding for various reasons?

One test, on one day, will never show how good of a teacher I am.  Especially a “TEST” like the SBAC.  I am convinced this test is not a valid or reliable measure of student success, nor am I convinced it can accurately measure the quality of a teacher.

Looney Tunes 6

Respectfully,

RAZ ON FIRE

Fire is Catching