Saturday, October 01, 2005

When The Content Of The Post Makes Me This Tired, Don't Expect Much Of A Title

I have attended more meetings than ever this year. Since I teach English II (the English course that corresponds with the Oklahoma End Of Instruction exam for HS English), there is an incredible amount of training to be sure that my curriculum meets the standards. I also met last week to help plan a benchmark test for the district--an intermediate test we would all give to insure we are on track for the EOI.

One such meeting was given by a couple of retired teachers who travel around training other teachers about the new laws (what a job). They are always full of hope and pep, the refuse to speak against No Child Left Behind. They operate with the idea that the law is a given, so how can we make it work for us?

They were full of excitment this last time. Look! Look at the scores of these 5th and 6th graders!! They read at 95% on grade level!! They're coming!! Get ready!!! I hoped out loud that my school was not yet shut down so that we could enjoy these children.

It's a good thing those kids can read, because this year's 6th graders will be required to pass all their EOI's (Alg. I, US History, Biology, and English II) in order to graduate HS. I am of two minds about this law.

On the plus side---
  • If NCLB is here to stay, something has to be done to put real teeth to those exams. As it stands, my school and I are the only parties effected by the scores. Scores don't follow students, they follow me as a teacher and reflect on my school's Academic Performance Index (our NCLB "magic number" that keeps my school open or not).
  • Familes will demand more from their child's teachers. My colleagues who show films and play dominos (fewer of us than you think) will be forced to step up their curriculum.
  • The State will demand that the exams will be fairer. As it stands, we have found flaws in the exams that may cost our kids a point here or there---points that could be crucial when a diploma is on the line.

On the minus side---

  • I don't believe that high stakes tests are the best way to measure learning.
  • There will always be blurry lines on who we are to test. There is always a question of which Special Ed kids or English Language Learners we are to test.
  • The data that brought us to these tests is not what we think it to be. The page I linked to from the State cited high remediation rates in college as a reason for higher standards, but it seems seldom considered that more and more of our kids are going to college. More of our kids take the ACT. Sure, we remediated fewer kids when we only sent our best to college, but that's just not the case anymore.
  • EdWonk gives a great rebuttal to the high stakes graduation test as well.

No neat answers here, but it's worth noting that my last period fart class doesn't have to pass their EOI and don't think that I don't remind a principal of this fact with every referral I send.

1 comment:

McSwain said...

If the exam scores followed the kid, they might have to blame the kid or society as a whole and not have the teacher to use as the ever-so-convenient scapegoat.