Friday, April 06, 2007

Testing. Is this thing on?

When I'm not blogging about music or films, I write about my suffering career as a teacher. This is one of those days.

Monday is the beginning of MAP testing at my school. The MAP is the high-stakes, standardized testing in Misery meant to leave no child untested...or behind...or something like that. The test is meant as a way to measure student, school, and teacher performance. So, for much of the year, we teachers focus most of our efforts in preparing our students to beat these tests in a futile attempt to reach 100% proficiency. This was a policy put into place by a lifelong C student who barely surpassed 50% in the last presidential election.

The part in all of this that directly affects me is the evaluation of teachers.

If you've read my blog before, you know that I was deemed inadequate as a fourth grade teacher. I mostly chalk this up to my very poor showing last year. I really struggled throughout the year and feel that no matter how hard I worked or how much improvement I made, the admin at my school were going to get rid of me. Sure, I'm the first to admit that I didn't do a very good job. The principal and vice principal had documented all kinds of poor showings during observations.

The cherry on top was when they pulled out my students' test scores. They weren't up to snuff. My test scores were used against me, because "it's all about student achievement" now a days. This was the final straw for my administrators. Poor test scores equaled no job.

I'm not suggesting that teachers will be shown the door if their students don't do well on state tests. However, if you raise a stink or have a really off-year (both of which I've done), someone will surely pull up your test scores to justify your non-renewal or dismissal.

I'm not supposed to take this personally. My bosses say that they really like me. This was a professional decision, not a personal one. I'm supposed to know that they consider me a friend.

This is hard to take. I raised a stink last year about no real union representation. This year I complained to colleagues about the uncomfortable working environment due to constant sexual harassment. (Of course none of it was directed at me.) I know that the first piece of information got back to the principal. I'm sure the second has as well.

With the dissolution of teachers unions, especially in Misery, test scores will become the new standard on which every teacher is judged. Is this fair? Is this part of a larger plot to rid public education of unions? Is it a way for right-wing nuts to regain control of public schools?

It's only a matter of time before prayer is back in school and teachers are union-less. Conservative "values" will return and the homogenization of America will continue.

Of course, I'm still looking for another teaching. I'll have to make sure not to give my new administration any reason to use my poor test scores against me in the future.

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