Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teaching to the test is failing the kids

From the Village Voice:

It was not Mayor Bloomberg's proudest moment. Last month, the federal government released New York City schools' rankings on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math tests for 2009—and their scores had flatlined, even as scores on the state Regents exams continued to rise. "Don't trust the Regents," shouted a Post editorial headline, saying that the NAEP gap had revealed New York State's testing regimen to be "a pathetic joke."

It seemed like yet another Albany scandal, to go along with Client 9 and state legislators locking each other out of the Senate chambers. Yet according to a growing chorus of parents, educators—and, quietly, school administrators—the test-score brouhaha is just a symptom of a deeper problem with roots in Washington and City Hall. The advent of the No Child Left Behind Act, they say, coupled with the test-score-based school Progress Reports that Mayor Bloomberg introduced in their wake, have led to a rash of undesired consequences: curricula overrun by test prep; dumbed-down tests that ask questions designed for younger grade levels; and widespread pressure on both schools and government officials to fudge their numbers—by outright cheating, if necessary.

No Child Left Behind "opened up a Pandora's box here in New York, where Mayor Bloomberg and the DOE just took it and ran," says Martha Foote of the statewide coalition Time Out From Testing. The result, she and others charge, is the worst of both worlds: a school system obsessed with test scores that are increasingly meaningless.


Anonymous said...

No child left behind is also a joke. Bloombergs is just No child behind on steroids to punish some schools. Kids need more interaction verbally learning the material with the teacher instead of rote tests which they forget later or just don't learn at all.

Lino said...

Nothing new here. In the pate 60s Iwas in one of those programs for "gifted" called SP/IGC.

Aside from two hours of homework each night (which I seldom did) we got special coaching for the tests each December and May.

We went into a classroom that had been converted into an A-V screening room. Once there a teacher used an opaque projector to show us all --the teacher's guide-- for the test we were to be given.

This WAS the test we soon took.

The school (PS 6 Man) had an image to protect and took no chances on us not topping the City.

Aside from the socialization experience, regular school is really a waste of time. There are professional schools for kids who work in theater-modeling etc, I attended one for a year in 65-66. It turned out that one only has to get 2hr/day instruction 5days/wk to satisfy the Compulsory Education law.

The school had only three large classrooms and two session per day. I was in with kids from my age (8&9) thru senior HS. The older kids tutored us. 'Best school experience of my life.

I learned more that year than all the glorified babysitting of regular school.

The clamoring to extend the school day is in my opinion, simply a ruse to provide free daycare and hire more teachers.

primadonna said...

I will tell you what is failing our kids, in NYC and in the rest of the country especially the big cities:

1) Many large school districts(and not so large) have over the past couple of decades increasingly turned to educating our kids using "progressive" or "constructivist" education methods. Based on this philosophy, kids construct their own knowledge and learn through self-discovery. Teachers are not permitted to "lecture" to the kids. In NYC, this program is called Columbia University's Teacher's College Reading & Writing Project. The DOE has invested tens of millions of dollars to train teachers to use this program that is SO lacking and deficient I could write a book on the topic. The math program here is called Everyday Mathematics. Math professors and mathematicians throughout the country have called for this program to be removed from classrooms. But Klein couldn't give a damn.
2) There has been increased pressure for "accountablility" which has put enormous stress on administrators and teachers to raise scores. This stress is creating school systems where teachers(and administrators) are continuosly leaving and the system is always full of novice teachers. Not good. Your senior teachers will always be an asset. They know the kids best. Unfortunately for the kids, those in charge want to turn the schools into a business where DATA is always at the top of the list. Nothing else about that kid matters.
3) Schools are seeing an influx of more immigrants. That alone is a recipe for disaster straining resources at schools.
4) All this test prep takes so much away from real learning. It makes me sad to think that when I first started teaching, I was pretty much left on my own to do what ever I wanted. I was able to do Art, Science, Social Studies. The kids got a well rounded education. All this focus on test scores has destroyed what education is supposed to be about.

Sometimes I wonder if here in NYC, if they are purposely using sh#@ programs and putting unqualified personnel in place so that the schools WILL fail and have to be closed. Make more room for charter schools. Diane Ravitch has an article in yesterday's Daily News about that. It's too bad she can't be our chancellor.
The future of our schools is very bleek.

georgetheatheist said...

Re "progressive", "constructivist" education. When I a public HS teacher in the '70's, I was handed a curriculum guide based on these principles. The idea was that the kid was a "genius in the rough". They also had classic textbooks given to them which they were not supposed to use! Following the mandated curriculum, absolutely no learning went on. It was a confusing mess of mish mash. I found that out quickly. THE KIDS WERE HUNGRY FOR STRUCTURE. When the moron, useless Assistant Principal was not there, I reverted to the textbook and it's well-organized planning and then real learning took place.

primadonna said...

Well that's what most of us have been doing as well...until the BloomKlein circus act took over.

Klein has implemented a system of intense micromanagement of the most ridiculous things - that have NOTHING to do with good teaching. If you don't follow the "rules", you are written up or given a U rating faster than you can say FIRE JOEL KLEIN.

Salvatore said...

primadonna... where do u live? I love u lol I'm in Ridgewood... lol

Anonymous said...

I find it laughable that Bloomberg totes this "best" schools in the country nonsense because Virginia, Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota have public schools miles ahead of this state.

primadonna said...

@ Salvatore:

Thank you for loving me but I speak the truth. NYC schools are dying a slow death. I don't think there's any turning back.

I'm on the opposite side of Queens.

Anonymous said...

Kids need to be taught ENGLISH is the language we use in America, not GHETTO

Once we have the guts to state the obvious policy, and to keep kids back for being all ghetto, then maybe this is a change that will yield some positive benefits.

Kids need more interaction verbally

Salvatore said...

Thank you for loving me but I speak the truth. NYC schools are dying a slow death. I don't think there's any turning back.

Prima, I know... we exchanged rants b4 regarding education, remember? Which is why I am switching to social work lol.. :/ what do you teach? I am certified social studies 7-12th and I think I am going for a bilingual extension in the summer. Where in Qnz do u live?

primadonna said...

I teach 4th grade but have also taught 2nd and K-2 Science cluster.

Thinking of leaving the system or resigning altogether.

primadonna said...
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primadonna said...
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primadonna said...

Kids need more interaction verbally"

That's part of the huge problem in our schools.
Ghetto parents do not speak to their kids, not in any meaningful way anyway.
What I observed in the ghetto was parents yelling or cursing at their kids. The kids in that neighborhood were often very speech-delayed and had language processing issues. I believe all related to not be exposed to any proper vocabulary early on. Kid's brains are like sponges. And not reading to them or at least talking with your baby from BIRTH is a missed opportunity for language development.
So of course by the time these kids enter Kindergarten, it's too late. They need to do "catch-up" work making their teacher's jobs all the more difficult. I hate when they say it's the school's fault kids aren't learning when it's so obviously not.
That's why you've seen a big increase in Pre-K, fulltime Pre-K. They figure better the kids are better off in school than with their worthless parents.

I recently found out some of my former students have babies.
Their future is very grim.


I live in Whitestone. Thought about leaving here too but can't bring myself to move to boonie Long Island.

georgetheatheist said...

"Ghetto parents", "...observed in the ghetto".

Ghettos? There are no ghettos in America.

Salvatore said...

Prima... what is wrong with Whitestone? lol...

Ah.... the education pipeline. I had students (seniors 17-19) who could not even write a 5 paragraph essay. Most ended up at BMCC (I speak to many today and some have not entered college). But the philosophy at "New Design HS" (in the LES) was to "hug your students" at least 4 times a day and have them construct their "own knowledge." Teachers got U's for lecturing more than 10 min!!! At NYU I learned about the "anti-textbook" movement... Do you know that freshman students asked for textbooks because they wanted visuals with color instead of white worksheets with silly fill in the boxes. I was teaching 9th global studies and we were pretty much forced to focus more on literacy then content. Great! So the students will underline the most important part of the paragraph and learn how to write an essay while they learn jack ish about content (history)... so now at least then can write but have nothing write about... lol.. the system is destroyed.... and guess who the admin consisted of?? Yes... LES hipsters who are not native new yorkers. Their mannerisms and culture are not native nyc-like and you can see how this clashed with the students. Thanks bloomburger for your policy (teaching fellows) in order to hire out of city "teachers." (hipsters who want to live the city life off a trust fund.)

primadonna said...

Yeah there was a lot of outrage several years ago when the "mini-lesson" and workshop model were first introduced. Middle and high school teachers were like how can you teach your subject matter in only 10 minutes? And the answer to that is that you can't. They even went so far as to ban classic novels because of the whole "pick your own reading" crap. English teachers went crazy! I thought they began to phase out this stupid philosophy, at least in grades 7-12. I guess not.
Us elementary teachers were not so lucky. Teacher's College was much more easily implemented in the younger grades so the teachers had to shut up and put up with it or else.
Now you combine that with a union formerly headed by Randi Weingarten who agreed to more money, but at a horrible price. She made the teachers very vulnerable and susceptible to abusive behavior by administrators. Administrators who are graduates of the "Leadership Academy" and have little or no educational experience. These "administrators" are being told by Tweed to "get" the teachers on anything. They often fabbricate crap even to justify a letter in your file or a U rating.
And all that on top of the teachers coming who have NO intention of staying past 2 or 3 years just to get the chance to live in NYC for a while.
These are the people who couldn't give a rat's ass about the system, it's future or it's kids. BloomKlein is filling our schools with these sorts of teachers and they want it that way. It's just cheaper.
NYC public schools' future is very grim. I wonder if Bloomberg is setting it all up to fail so he can privatize our schools. I guess we'll see.

Salvatore said...

prima; do u have aim or msn?? lol

Anonymous said...

sooooo Lino ,the liberal loyalist,
you really were "educated" by Martin Sheen and Rosie
O'donnell leftie types.