Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seeing Pink

Well honestly, seeing Red, but since I'm not doing anything about it other than losing sleep last night, it's been downgraded.

Apparently, our algebra, geometry, and algebra 2 teachers have been told to stop teaching the curriculum and start teaching to THE TEST. The state-mandated, must-pass in junior year to graduate, must-pass in sophomore year to make our school "acceptable", must pass in freshman year or else the uppy-ups start to panic and worry you won't pass in 10th or 11th grade ... TEST. And for how long are they to teach to this test? FOR 3 MONTHS. That's 3 months of math knowledge they won't have the next year, and the next and the next. Oh my god that is so short-sighted.

Honestly, if I was teaching one of those classes, I don't know what I'd do. Would I refuse? Would I teach part of my class to the canned activities that they all must follow and then teach the curriculum? Would I raise a big stink and even go so far as to quit in protest? And why am I not doing something now? Just because it doesn't directly affect me (it will when they're in precal and calculus)? If you know something is wrong, and you keep letting it continue, aren't you just as guilty for it perpetuating? Argh.

8 comments:

  1. MathTeacher445:20 AM

    I hate this mentality too. If you trust your teachers to do a good job teaching, shouldn't teaching the curriculum be enough for the kids to do well on THE TEST? (Like if they know math, they'll do well on a math test????!!!)
    I can see talking a bit about test strategy, but beyond that, I can NOT support the decision to do test prep for 3 months!!! If teaching them math is not working for the test then either the test should be changed or maybe the curriculm needs tweaking, but certainly losing 3 months of curriculum is a terrible idea. (Maybe you could bring up the fact that those students are really going to be hurt on the AP TEST.)

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  2. As an AP teacher, my belief is that if I teach a quality course that aligns to the AP course description, then the test will take care of itself. I do "prep along the way", with daily MC questions and weekly FR questions so they are used to the format of the exam without the "teaching to the test" aspect.

    This year, we are also testing Alg1, Geo, and Alg2 and as a Geometry teacher, I have carried over that same philosphy. If I teach a quality Geometry course (and the test is aligned to the standards), then the test will take care of itself. Again, I do prepare them throughout the year with weekly 5 question MC quizzes and daily spiral review, but I do not concentrate on the exam.

    I certainly hope you are able to talk some sense into the powers that be!

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  3. Anonymous4:38 AM

    Yes it's crazy. I don't know what I want to wish for: that the kids don't do well on the TEST, so that they see this is ridiculous (or maybe then it would be 6 months of teaching to the TEST), or that they do well because you always want them to do well.

    In 5 (4? 6?) years, we are moving to end-of-course exams to replace the TEST, so at least then if teachers are forced to "teach to the test" at least the TEST will be in your subject area.

    Ms. Cookie

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  4. So, why doesn't the curriculum already align with The Test?

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  5. Anonymous2:17 PM

    As a "regular" Algebra 1 teacher, I am leaving my school because of poor decision making by the curriculum and admin folks. I feel like I've been given an impossible job. It is hard enough to teach math to kids who don't think they will ever use it in their careers. Now I hear people telling the kids they have to learn math in order to pass the test. And teaching TO THE TEST justs reinforces this idea

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  6. Anonymous7:54 AM

    There are various reasons some of our students wouldn't pass the test:

    truancy, geometry topics heavily tested in 11th grade when the students haven't seen it since 10th or 9th grade (and haven't revisited it), too many 9th graders failing algebra and having to repeat it and yet in 10th grade being tested on skills they don't have, questions asked in ways the students aren't familiar with, READING skills / vocabulary skills,...

    Ms. Cookie

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  7. Lousy standards, lousy tests, underlying belief that there is a high level of mathematical ability that all can reach (so they water down the courses to let weak kids get through - to the high level courses that they are now unprepared for)

    One state is worse than the next, and the best is not good.

    I like this: Nel Noddings Op-Ed: The new anti-intellectualism in America
    and this: Schmidt in the American Educator

    List goes on.

    I would yell and scream (and teach my course)

    Jonathan

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  8. It's all about the test scores. My administration centers on teaching to achieve good test scores.. while we aren't 100% centered on teaching to the test, it's pretty close. I don't know if I can continue in this profession if it keeps heading down this road.

    In total I have given up 4 weeks of instructional time to allow for benchmark testing, practice TAKS testing and other things required by the district. I just wish someone would trust me to do my JOB!!!!

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