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I see students who come to school at whatever time they feel like it.
They ditch school and cut classes, and regardless of who the teacher
is, the students have shown immense disrespect. Students will not
excel with these attitudes regardless of the expertise of the teacher
You know I really responded favorably to your last paragraph. When the U.S. is compared to most of the nations in Europe, we don't come out particularly well. Unlike all other advanced European nations, we consider the state of a child's heatlth to be completely and totally a matter of whether the parents can pay or not. We seem not to understand at all, that a single Mom who can't put food on the table at all unless she works two jobs may not have a lot of energy left to read aloud and check homework at night. Some children are lucky that someone does those things, but not all are, and it is not just that Mom or Dad does not care. Some people are facing incredible odds to get through their daily lives. Where is the help that would allow these people to focus on their children?
Let's see if we even get serious enough finally to care for the heatlh of our citizens. If we get there, maybe we will begin to figure out how to reduce the incredible number of homeless people (including children) in our supposed "advanced, civilized" nation.
In a way, I do favor more accountability, but right now there are a lot of things wrong with our testing systems:
1. We don't test in ways that predict future, adult success. Life consists of very few multiple-choice activities.
2. Simplistic attempts to provide rewards and/or punishments can result in teachers not collaborating with each other, fighting for the "best" students, and other actions that do nobody any good.
We suffer too much already with a lack of free, open collaboration among teachers; we certainly don't need to exacerbate the situation.
Teaching is similar to cooking = it is an art form that depends on the cook, the ingredients, and the work environment. A top notch chef can make excellent food from a wide range of ingredients of varying quality under extreme circumstances - and is rewarded with higher salary (and punished for disasters by departing customers!)
Unfortunately, our ability to measure desired outcomes is still limited. Sure, high stakes tests measure with multiple choice questions, but have you ever tried to really measure understanding with a multiple choice test? Grading rubrics help measure subjective answers but their individual validity diminishes as the testing pool grows. Testing is also affected by community, city, state, and cultural backgrounds and the political motivations of those demanding the tests. Even the vaunted SAT punishes students who grow up outside the American Cultural norm.
Then there are all of the other factors that people have written about that some teachers face every day - parenting, SES, school budgets, pupils per class, hours per week, inclusion classes, availability of aides, ... Many of these factors are more extreme and variable in American education because we have not yet solved the health care problem. I believe with the right environment, great teachers can impact even the most disaffected student, but another great teacher with limited support has very limited chance of success.
So, even the best chef is faced with vastly varying ingredients, making our measures of chefly production very challenging. If we could develop a reliable measure of students' potential as they come into class, a reliable measure of students' learning as they leave a class, as well as a measure of the educational environment provided by the state and school administration, then we could figure out how to reward or punish. However, I believe that we are a long way from either of those goals.
When parents are held accountable, teachers can be.
Parents are the constant teacher in a child's life. They should be held accountable for getting their kids to school on time, and ready to learn. Including a good night's sleep, proper nourishment, and provide a quite place for them to do homework. Kids need a quite place to practice what they learned in school away from distractions in order to master concepts.
The classroom teacher has 30 plus students (in my state), for 180 days each year, with approximate 6.5 hours a day. That includes 1/2 lunch and two recess periods.
Not to mention what would happen to class demographics if pay is tied to student performance. High risk kids would be 'undesirable'. What a horrible situation that would be.
Very well said! The comment, "Multiple Causes" has been talked about for years among those I teach with. I am a veteran teacher of 18 years in an elementary school. There are so many factors that effect students' academic outcomes that we just do not have a lot of control over. I am a Special Education teacher also and have a child of my own that is gifted. Now I see the other side of the spectrum. He is not being challenged in school because the teachers are working so hard to make sure "No Child is left Behind." He is already able to make the grade and that just O.K. I see my Special Education students trying so hard to learn, but because of their disabilities, are still behind academically. They do make gains but not comparable to average students. I work so hard and spend many hours preparing lessons that fit each individual's needs. Testing does not always prove that a teacher has put forth a lot of time and effort to educate each individual.
Excellent point!! We never talk about deducting a cop's pay because there are still criminals on the street, or as you said deducting our governments pay because of the problems we suffer.
The biggest problem I have encountered at my present school is instilling the student discipline it takes to do important, basic lessons. When the students have no concept of how education will enhance their lives for many years, they see little importance in the lesson and simply don't do their school work. Presently, the ability to motivate the students to just go ahead and try is paramount.
In my choir classes, where I recruit the students based almost strictly on behavior, I can teach 10 times the material of my general music classes. All I need is a captive audience and great things happen. It's an amazing dichotomy.
As a whole, our school has been labeled failing for many years in a row and the teachers are penalized monetarily for the low test scores. We have changed many things over the years. The only constant has been the non-commitment to student accountability and administrative support. Without those two elements, I would not want to be judged too harshly on a 13 year old's test scores. I know that I give everything I have every day. But one thing I learned many years ago as a coach is that if you are going to win some games, you've got to have some good players.
I voted "maybe" because I'm concerned that something like this could further drive young professionals away from education. Research shows that up to 50% of them leave in the first 5 years of their career. We already have too many factors that push them out of this career.
I could see a system like this being used with more experienced educators. In fact, this might keep veteran educators more "on their toes" especially as they look toward retirement.
As you read this, know that I am a veteran teacher saying this. It's so hard to see others around me getting lazy in their last years before retirement.
When students fail, teachers are not the only cause. Did the students have breakfast? There are free breakfasts but only if the students are able to get to school early enough to have it. Do both parents(or the only one) work so no one is there to make sure a young child has had anything--many are in this situation who do not qualify for free breakfasts.
Is there a quiet place to do homework? If the home is a party and/or drinking and/or drug environment, not much will get done. Is there someone to help if the student doesn't understand the homework? Do parents encourage success in school? Many students don't care and need to learn to care. If parents don't encourage them, what hope is there is will be completed?
Does the family have enough to survive or does a high school student need money? Will they get it by selling drugs and dropping out? Will they get it through a legitimate job that leaves them too exhausted to bother with school?
Until we deal with the issues of poverty and run-down schools, we cannot solve the issues of education. They are too deeply entwined.
That's before mentioning the issues involved with special education students who don't believe they can succeed or certainly can't succeed at the level being required by standardized testing.
It is also not addressing the needs of the gifted students who are so bored by the current watered-down curriculum that they would rather drop out than be quite so bored. Where do teachers find the time and energy to help them if pay is being docked for the ones who can't meet basic levels.
Clearly teachers are not the only problem. Until we dock the pay of members of Congress for the percentage of people in our country below the poverty line, we should not dock the pay (or increase it) based on levels of testing.