Thursday, May 22, 2014

If It Ain't Broke, Break It

Every time I write a teacher post, I get emails from educational types asking if they can post here at "The Gods Are Bored." One even offered me lucre! But The Gods Are Bored is not for sale. It's proudly free content, just what the author wants to say.

Today I want to say that 96 percent of the juniors at my Title I school passed New Jersey's 2014 High School Proficiency Assessment.

To refresh your memory, the population of the high school where I teach is about 50/50 Black and Hispanic, with a smattering of Southeast Asians. There are three white kids out of over 700. Almost everyone qualifies for free or reduced meals. These kids proved that they could read and write high school level English. Our success rate at my school is equal to or better than any other high school in the state.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we hard-working tech school English teachers were rewarded with a continuance of the reduced class sizes and shorter teaching schedules that produced these results? You bet!

But of course that would be logical.

Instead we will all get larger classes and extra teaching assignments next year. The tutoring that helped so many struggling students has been cancelled, because next year's juniors get the new Common Core national exam. Since no one is sure what is going to be on that exam (even the examiners themselves), we can't teach to the test the way we did with the NJ HSPA.

At a recent teachers' meeting for my school, I received excerpts of the "anchor texts" that will be on the new Common Core test. The only thing on the list that I had read before entering college was Shakespeare. Everything else (except "The Gift of the Magi," which do not ask me why, is a perennial favorite) is college level. The NJ HSPA readings were not exactly Little House on the Prairie, but they weren't Kafka, either. And forget readable translations of such bored-God-approved texts as The Odyssey. The anchor translation was untranslatable.

If you're like me, you're thinking that preschoolers are being expected to be first graders, that first graders are being expected to be third graders, that third graders are being expected to be sixth graders, that middle school students are being expected to be high schoolers, and that high school is now college. Oh, and let's not forget that one size fits all. (Well, maybe it does. Look at our HSPA scores!)

When they roll out the new Common Core standardized testing next year, and the entire nation tanks, remember what you read here today. Almost every single one of my students was deemed high school proficient by the state of New Jersey.

Now things fall apart. I'll get larger classes and a busier schedule, and the students -- faced with a baffling new test that has no stakes whatsoever for them -- will tank alongside everyone else. Then, guess what? My deficiencies as a teacher will be revealed! Yes, I've been hiding behind these great state test scores too long!

The Great Conspiracy To Undermine Public Education is under way.


Lucretia said...

You have my deepest sympathy, Anne.

How many ways can one be disgusted with "the system" that is destroying education in this country? Let's find out...

Maebius said...

I stand with you Anne, on feeling sad and frustrated. We went ot Common Core this year in NY, and it's ...very different. I won't get on my soapbox and decry it, but, I feel for your kids next year, and the teachers forced to toss out years of experience to learn a new method that doesn't actually make sense.


you my friend have a thankless job..but us few here know what you do and what your worth hero.