April 1st was a lost day of PARCC testing.

Fred,

So – is assessment part of teaching?

Did you ever grade your art students? Based on what data?

What if I didn’t like the methodology you used, like you don’t like PARCC?

Is teacher evaluation a valid part of education? How were you evaluated (or weren’t you – being a Union boss)? Is student achievement/improvement a valid component of teacher assessment? If not, what should teacher assessment be about? Union Membership?

Just asking; don’t expect answers – I think I know what yours are.

-Akvida

—————

Dear Akvida,

1. Of course assessment is a part of teaching. Standardized tests like the PARCC have very little to do with teaching and learning. They are neither valid nor reliable. PARCC is created by those far from the teaching and learning process and the results are of little use for either assessing learning or improving teaching.

2. I graded my art students as little as possible. I gave them lots of feedback and encouragement with an understanding that assigning a score or a letter grade to their work provided neither useful feedback nor encouragement.

3. It is not a matter of *liking* a methodology. Everything about teaching and learning should be morally and educationally defensible. More than anything else, teaching is a moral act with a moral purpose.

4. However you propose to evaluate a teacher, it is not morally or educationally defensible to do it based on the individual test scores of their students based on one set of tests.

5. Teacher assessment, like evaluating all the social work people do, should be based on a conversation among those involved. And yes, union membership provides a way to have that conversation based on the collective bargaining process. In my district, for example, we spent several years developing a process with our board and administration for evaluating, improving or dismissing employees that was fair, required documentation, and meant that our district had a high quality staff of empowered teachers and administrators. Once Illinois adopted a state-wide evaluation system as demanded by Arne Duncan and the Department of Education, our local evaluation system had to be thrown out.

-Fred

 

8 thoughts on “April 1st was a lost day of PARCC testing.

  1. Thanks Fred.

    I don’t think many people realize just how awful, cruel, and abusive the PARCC test is. I wrote about what PARCC actually looks like for kids here: http://mskatiesramblings.blogspot.com/2016/03/parcc-and-real-live-children.html I feel dirty after administering it. I should have protected my kids. I should have worked harder to organize my school to Opt Out, but I was overwhelmed with preparing for April 1st. Now I have to go in to school tomorrow and inflict harm on my students who are already so fragile. It makes me want to cry and give up.

    • We’re all in this together, Katie. A good cry now and then is not a bad thing. Anne and I were saying the other day that as adults we rarely cry because we hurt. We cry mostly about the hurt we feel for others.

  2. Dear Fred,

    Playing with the troll again, I see.

    Although Akvida doesn’t realize it, his comments expose him for what he really is, rather than for what he hopes other people will see.

    Akvida believes other readers will think he is providing meaningful insight into education with his (in his mind) “pithy barbs” directed at you. What comes through very clearly instead, is his personal bias against, and dismissive jealousy of, others he chooses not to approve of.

    To me, he is just another uninformed anonymous commenter. (Or as some might say, “A useful idiot” manipulated by others to do their bidding.) Not worth spending a significant amount of thought on other than as a Sunday diversion.

    I liked him better when I thought of him as a crabby old man defending his lawn. I bet you had fun though.

  3. Dear Akvida, 1. Of course assessment is a part of teaching. Standardized tests like the PARCC have very little to do with teaching and learning. They are neither valid nor reliable. PARCC is created by those far from the teaching and learning process and the results are of little use for either assessing learning or improving teaching.

    “Tests like the PARCC”. Fred, I think I might very well agree with you about PARCC itself (and won’t defend it), but I think there needs to be some sort of measurable standard that gives an indication of how well a particular institution, or teacher, stacks up against its/their peers. If each entity simply evaluates itself, without relation to any other, it is that much more difficult to identify weak spots for improvement.

    I will also grant you that placement on standardized scales does not necessarily equate with effort, etc. I recognize that communities differ, and that students enter the system with differing background advantages/disadvantages. I do not, however, accept the proposition that that justifies abandoning the effort to have a standardized evaluation process.

    Of course, you have to acknowledge the possibility that there are some “spots” that are weaker than others. If you believe anything having to do with public education cannot be improved upon (except funding), then you will not agree.

    2. I graded my art students as little as possible. I gave them lots of feedback and encouragement with an understanding that assigning a score or a letter grade to their work provided neither useful feedback or encouragement.

    How did you explain giving them letter grades? Did you tell them it was meaningless, and that you were required to perform a meaningless task by assigning grades? Did your “A” students do better work than your “C” students? Do you recognize that some students do better work than others? Do you believe that students who do better work should be recognized for it? Does it matter whether the better work comes of talent or effort? If so (and there is a difference), did you differentiate? How?

    3. It is not a matter of *liking* a methodology. Everything about teaching and learning should be morally and educationally defensible. More than anything else, teaching is a moral act with a moral purpose.

    “Everything about teaching and learning should be morally and educationally defensible” – based on an objective standard? You’re treading close to inconsistency here. Or do you mean just that everyone should feel good about what they’re doing – even if they cannot make an objective case for it?

    4. However you propose to evaluate a teacher, it is not morally or educationally defensible to do it based on the individual test scores of their students based on one set of tests.

    Again – I think I tend to agree. Where we probably will disagree is whether basing a teacher evaluation (in part, anyway) on an objective measure of students (presumably, students’ achievement) is defensible after some process other than just one test score.

    5. Teacher assessment, like evaluating all the social work people do, should be based on a conversation among those involved. And yes, union membership provides a way to have that conversation based on the collective bargaining process. In my district, for example, we spent several years developing a process with our board and administration for evaluating, improving or dismissing employees that was fair, required documentation, and meant that our district had a high quality staff of empowered teachers and administrators. Once Illinois adopted a state-wide evaluation system as demanded by Arne Duncan and the Department of Education, our local evaluation system had to be thrown out.

    “should be based on a conversation among those involved.” Just conversation? No objective data? Did the several years of development include your community? Or just the “experts”? The reason I ask is that almost every other product or service offered to the general public is made available through a market place, in which market forces (supply and demand, market studies, consumer feedback, etc.) apply. I know the education community holds itself out as “above” such a mundane process, but is that position really justified? More than healthcare? More than food supply? More than housing?

    • Akvida has a debate with himself or herself. Assertions are made. There is no need to provide evidence for the assertions. Previous explanations are ignored. It all must be quite satisfying to nobody but Akvida. So we will end it.

  4. Short & sweet (or stinky, as it were)– PARCC= CCRAP.
    Enough said. (or–to quote Bernie–“Enough is enough!”)

  5. Akivida,
    You seem to be obsessed with “objectivity.” Please allow me to add an observation regarding this thing you call “objectivity”: It doesn’t exist! “Objectivity” exists nowhere in the private or public sectors, including education. Beyond state mandates, school boards and administrators, usually in negotiation and collaboration with teacher representatives, set standards and rules for teachers. Teachers, in turn, set standards and rules for students. In principle, bosses in the private sector do the same for their employees. Reasonable individuals strive for what is valid, fair, moral, and yields the best results; though in the end, beauty is still in the eyes of the beholder. That’s called subjectivity. The best we can do to prevent a clash of subjectivities and to operate within a reasonable framework, is for us to create collaboratively certain ground rules embodied in a legal contract that binds all parties. In truth, where is the “objectivity” here?

    No matter how hard we try to be totally objective, we will never achieve it due to mankind’s imperfections. Human beings are not perfect machines, and what they produce even with great precision always has flaws. Ever hear of car recalls? Among the greater imperfections or follies of mankind are standardized tests like PARCC, particularly when they abuse children and are misused as teacher evaluation instruments. One fact that I learned from a very wise, former colleague is that if these standardized tests “test” anything “they really test the community in which the school is located.” Give that some thought.

    So, Akivida, spare yourself the agony in the attempt to achieve “objectivity.” End your useless obsession. I have a feeling that you could find far better things to do.

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