Thursday, March 15, 2012

What the Heck is Going on in NYC Schools??!

First they write standardized tests to evaluate the students and now they write standardized tests to evaluate the teachers.

In case you have not been keeping up on the news in education, New York City's education department released all teacher evaluations to the press based completely off of standardized testing using "value-added formulas," according to the Washington Post (details can be read here). Imagine sitting down to read your local newspaper to see all the public school teachers names listed in your area along with a mark after their name saying "ineffective or effective" with regards to their teaching.

The basis to determine whether someone is an effective teacher is solely based off the increase (or decrease) in their standardization test scores in the past five years. This means that a teacher who one year had students who met 90% of the standard and 85% of the standard the next year gets a mark of 'ineffective' written after their name in the newspaper even though 85% is still remarkably high.

Oh but lets keep in mind the city won't release firefighters or police evaluations to the public.

I really like what Mark Naison, a professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York who writes the blog With a Brooklyn Accent says about how the middle class views teachers (found via one of my favorite blogs School Matters at this link here):

Let’s look at the way many in America’s shrinking middle class and battered working class view the teachers in their midst.
Large numbers of people are losing their jobs and homes, earning sub-standard wages and taking in their children who can’t find jobs. All the while, they see teachers, 80 percent of them women, who make better salaries than they do, have better health plans and pensions, and get two or three months off in the summer!
Many say to themselves: “Who do teachers think they are? Why should they live so well on my tax dollars when I can barely keep my head above water? At the very least, they should feel some of the insecurity I feel every day and face the kind of performance assessments workers in the private sector deal with all the time.”

Interesting... and I still want to start a career in secondary science education? Are you sure? 
Education policy is nothing new to me as I grew up in a house with a teacher and a Grandfather who was on Washington State's education committee. In fact it was growing up around this that made me NOT want to go into education, but here I am regardless wanting to be a physics teacher to combine my love of science with my love of working with teenagers. (How many people say that!?! Seriously I must be insane.) 
I really do have a deep respect for the teaching profession and yes I do view it as a profession or an art form if you will. Teachers go to school to get a certificate just like other professions and have the heavy responsibility of teaching the youth of the future. Yet so many people leave the profession before 5 years after putting up with all this crap. 
Guess what? It takes about 5 years to even become a good teacher. How are we even going to retain and create quality new teachers with crap like this going on? Heavy questions. 
So here I am, a recent physics undergraduate determined to get my certification to teach for the long haul only to be placed up on the dart board of society. Well at least I'm well informed... so I have that going for me. 
Bring it! Let me pick my own education battles and create a splash. Now to get that certification...    

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