Written and edited by Norm Scott:
EDUCATE! ORGANIZE!! MOBILIZE!!!
Three pillars of The Resistance – providing information on current ed issues, organizing activities around fighting for public education in NYC and beyond and exposing the motives behind the education deformers. We link up with bands of resisters. Nothing will change unless WE ALL GET INVOLVED IN THE STRUGGLE!
So this week’s Inquiry Team task is a doozy. We are supposed
to go into ARIS, list all kids by proficiency level AND by proficiency rating,
cross reference on NYSSTART to find trends, identify kids that are in more than
one category (for example, a young, African American male who has an IEP, has
been held back, and who qualifies for free lunch counts for 4 points because he
is a member of 4 subgroups) for school report card purposes and identify two
target groups with proficiency ranged from high-1 – mid-2 and high-2 to mid-3.
There are other little data tricks we need to do, but I think you get the idea.
So my co-teacher and I settle down with the directions and
start to work on this. As I read the directions, I notice at the end that the
final SMART goal on the sheet reads something to the effect of “By September
27, 2011, 100% of teachers will have MEMORIZED the names and proficiency scores
of ALL students within the target proficiency ranges, along with each students
There were other memory requirements. I have to memorize the
names and proficiency ratings of all the students I have that fall into one or
more subgroups (they are worth extra points on the school report card). I have
to memorize who my level 1s are and who are my “push/slip” kids – the ones
whose scores are JUST under or over the threshold for another level, therefore
at risk of “slipping” back or worthy of trying to “push” for the next level to
gain points. I must also memorize
the number of students I have in each level and the range of scores within the
Apparently, just having the information available in a file
for planning purposes is not enough. I must have it all committed to memory,
along with the school-wide SMART goals (verbatim, btw). I have visions of being stopped in the
hallway by an administrator and being told “Recite all students who are young
black males with IEPs and free lunch, in ascending order, GO!!” Or even, “All your level 1s who are
within .03 points of making level 2, alphabetically! GO!!” It’s a scary thought
and I am already lying awake at night stressing out over what is going to
happen to me if I can’t alphabetically recite, on demand, the names of all my
Level 2s who qualify for free lunch and have trouble with inferences as I am
walking to the ladies’ room.
And I fail to see the point of this. I understand needing to know where the
areas of most need are within my students and needing to know who is at which
proficiency level (I do this anyway and use the information to inform
instruction), but to require me to memorize this data for some kind of “Stand
and Deliver” encounter in the hallway strikes me as degrading. I am I really
simply a seal performing tricks for administration in the hopes of being thrown
a herring? Must I take time away
from planning lessons and creating strategies to meet the needs of these kids
to study a stack of flash cards filled with sterile data about them? Somehow we all become less than human
in this situation.
The other disturbing aspect of this Inquiry meeting was the
treatment the lowest and highest students are slated to receive this year. As we focus on the kids who are “worth”
more points on the school report card and the kids who fall into the
“push/slip” categories, the students who are at the high and low end of the
range will be ignored. To quote my AP this week, “The kids who are at a 3.4 or
higher, even into level 4, well, we’re not going to worry about them. They will
pass the test and we get no points from moving a 3 to the 4, so we don’t want
to waste our instructional time on them since there is little return in it.”
Yes, she said that.
Regarding the really low kids – the level 1s and holdovers,
she said, “It’s the same with the really low kids. You know you can’t make a
level 1.2 into a level 2 by the end of the year, so you don’t need to waste time on those students
who will not be able to help move the school’s data forward. We need to be
pragmatic and use our limited time and resources on the kids that can get up
She wrapped up with a reminder to focus on the kids who are
“worth” more because they fall into more than one subgroup and therefore count
more than once on the report card. To wit, “Let’s say you have a student who is
a young African-American male, who has an IEP, qualifies for free lunch AND is
an ELL student. THAT student needs to get LOTS of attention because my moving
that ONE student, his points are multiplied by FOUR, whereas a student who is
simply an African-American male will be worth only one point and therefore is
not as valuable on the report card.”
I find this profoundly disturbing, and it’s making me feel
Race to the Bottom, indeed.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/.
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