Part of the Problem?

Talking to teachers at my school today about how we could raise our test scores gave me some further insight into why change doesn’t happen. They tend to jump into solving “the problem” by doing what comes naturally to them. They focus on attacking the problem they are given – Getting our students to do much better on the very testing that they have some, to many issues with. But they don’t make the jump then to speaking up about that they have huge issues with the testing and trying to get our students to do well on the current type and format of testing … that the testing is a disconnect from the learning our students should be involved in.

They totally get the vast disconnect and the implications … but they don’t even think for a second about questioning that. It doesn’t enter their mind to question it … because we just don’t do that … we do what we are told … and/or that’s never entered their minds, that what they believe and have come to through their education, experience and common sense has any value or should be considered. They have years of experience and a masters degree and tons of training … but who are they to use that to make decisions about student learning?

That is administrations role (they have been told). If I or someone else raises those issues they totally agree … if they are told we should be bringing up these issues they totally agree … as long (pretty much) as it isn’t them that brings it up. This is partly their fault, and partly what has happened after 8 years of being told what we think is not under consideration, just do the program … don’t question it, it is “research based” (and the university profs don’t help here mostly in the classes teachers take from them they reinforce it).

Just do what we are told. Deal with the problem we are given … not what we believe is the real problem.

Learning is messy!

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4 thoughts on “Part of the Problem?

  1. Here in NZ we are about to adopt National Standards- introduced by the newly elected right wing political party- from a working group that didn’t contain one single teacher.

    School Boards that don’t adopt are being told that they will be sacked.

    Why can’t we learn from the mistakes of others?????

    We are a voice in the wilderness- this is a political thing not an educational one and it will happen.

    Learning isn’t messy- it chaotic 🙁

  2. This is what I think is wrong. Test scores are truly important. But they just aren’t enough. Let me give you this example. Last year my father went into the hospital with total kidney failure. They did the right thing and focused totally on the kidney problem. If they did not get it under control, he would have died. That is the equivalent of the test scores. Our students are in danger of failing out of our education system. Dieing!

    But the kidney issues were only the symptom of the disease. Fortunately, the medical field did not stop there. They determined that the disease that was causing the kidney problems was cancer. Now they are working on the disease. If they did not, the kidney issue would never go away. That is where we are in education. We keep treating the symptom of the disease (est scores) and never address the disease (relevance, disconnect, etc.). Until we do, we will constantly triage the same students for the same symptoms and will never fix the problems!

  3. Okay- but isn’t this the same group/leadership that was convinced peppermint oil was the ‘fix’ for the testing?

    I agree – testing could/should/must be improved… However, what I have found on the administrative side of things is that another disconnect comes in the form of what teachers ‘should be’ doing and ‘say’ they are doing… and what is really happening in the room….

    I am currently reading Doug Lemov’s book (as highlighted by the Elizabeth Green article for the New York Times and tweeted about by Bill Gates) Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College and I must say… Much of what is discussed is dead on – when you think about it – While the title sounds like ‘one more cure all’ the information inside is amazingly accurate – especailly when you think about really great teachers. Which begs the question: Do we need to change the test? get better at our teaching? or both…