Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Firing Teachers for Low Test Scores

Teachers should be fired for low standardized test scores by their students. If Student X gets a low test score at the end of one year, that means that the teacher failed to teach that student that one year, and the teacher should be fired for their failure to teach that student that one year. The problem with this reasoning is that students do not all of the sudden come to 7th grade let's say, with a blank slate. After their 2.5 month summer break (where in impoverished demographics proves to be seriously detrimental and take kids back quite a few notches academically because they are not exercising their intellect in the majority of cases, sadly), they are building on the progress they made in 6th grade. So, what about the teacher that year being held accountable? Ok, so it's both teachers that should be fired (both 6th and 7th grade) for Student X's low standardized test score at the end of 7th grade. Because it was only those two teachers that failed to educate that student.

Take into consideration the summer before 6th grade though. Another 2.5 months where some communities, sadly, don't offer much in the name of extra-curricular activities. Kids will "be kids" and play ball. They can develop people skills and teamwork skills, which is fantastic, but their algebra skills and long division skills aren't exercised when they divide their soccer teams up into 4 and 4 (mental math). It is those academic skills that are being assessed at the end of the school year, not their soccer teamwork.

Then let's go back to 5th grade. But also not forget 4th. We must ask, "When did this student fall behind?" Not only that, but, "Why?" Do you realize the mortality rate in the United States? My hope is that the general public understands that the 2,515,458 people that die yearly do include some younger people. Younger people that are parents of school-aged children. Younger people that are brothers and sisters and caretakers and mentors to these children. May these deaths in immediate family have created a trauma that could have affected a student's learning one year? Yes.

Maybe Student Y had a sibling die when in 3rd grade. Does every student have a sibling die when they are in the 3rd grade? Obviously not. But you must remember hearing about fellow student's suffering deaths in their families sometime during the course of your time spent in school. This event was traumatic! I'm sure Student Y took a few days off school (at least) and wasn't quite the same for a while afterwards. They may have missed the first lesson on division. It is hard to catch up because class sizes are large! My classroom has 35 desks for students and 1 for me, the teacher. All of these desks are full. It is far into the school year before I develop the rapport with students and learn much about their personal lives. In middle school, teachers have 5 classes of 35. How many backgrounds can you find out about from 51 minutes per day seeing 175 kids. Kids that are brand new to you come August on the first day of school.

Sometimes you don't know that this student missed that first lesson on division. That the missing link goes back to 3rd grade. That he still misses his little sister. That he doesn't speak up when he's lost because he's embarrassed for being behind for so long. Is it possible that they've been behind other kids in their class for 4 straight years now?  Step into any classroom, do a simple survey (if you can find the time) and find out yourself. Do this on your extra time that your $41,500 yearly salary doesn't cover.

Oh, but we get summers off!

Fire teachers based on standardized test scores!!! Wooohooo vote republican and anti-union! Here's a dose of reality for you.  \/\/\/   Thanks for reading.

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