Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Making Sure SBA 2010 Isn't Like SBA 2009, 2008, 2007...

From a comment to a very recent post on No Child Left Behind/Standardized Testing:

"I guess the thing to do is to do something beside speak to the computer. Thomas Paine, Gandhi, King, Chavez, Attucks, names of people so fed up with the same ol, same ol they did something beside find comfort and camaraderie in the teachers' lounge. It was nearly a year ago that the Babble posted the news of one Carl Chew boycotting the test in Seattle. Back in the olden days, we'll call it last year, folks didn't wait for others to lead; they led. If you build it, they will come. Begin the building."

Definitely words to chew on, commenter Anonymous. So to speak. The chewing gets a little tougher when one reads yesterday's NYT story detailing (very, very little really) the Obama Administration's thought on NCLB re-authorization. The gristle is especially tough when NCLB critic Diane Ravitch is left to opine:

“Obama’s fundamental strategy is the same as George Bush’s: standardized tests, numbers-crunching; it’s the N.C.L.B. approach with lots of money attached....Obama has given Bush a third term in education policy.”

Again, it's unclear what exact changes President Obama and Education Secretary Duncan want to make to NCLB, but it's very clear it's largely not going anywhere. I'll resist any ego-centric temptation to point derisively at my fellow teachers and shriek "I told you so", and will instead choose to list a few things that MUST happen before I, personally, can stomach administering even one more SBA:

  • Special-Education students have to have their own test;
  • Test scores must follow the student as much as they follow the school/teacher;
  • In line with Point Two, any effort to link test scores to teacher performance must include statistical analysis of how individual students progress;
  • The test must be nationalized: same test for everyone, same sample size for scores to "count", same confidence interval;
  • The 100% by 2014 Chart of Bush Administration NCLB Insanity has to be thrown into the dustbin of history, replaced by realistic targets such as the 3% improvement outlined by APS Superintendent Winston Brooks;
  • "Corrective Action" must stop consisting of worn, worthless "Continuous Improvement" TQM garbage, and be replaced with the proper funding for trained teachers to do the job necessary to build student performance along the lines outlined the points above. Given the proper infrastructure, teachers don't need useless BS like "continuous improvement".
Now comes the Carl Chew moment. What do we do if most/all of the above isn't implement in the re-authorization? What is to be done if SBA 2010 looks 99.9% like 2009? A couple of ideas:

  • Drop our Union memberships. Teachers' unions seem to be into boycotts (e.g. the new one against the Albuquerque Journal for publishing SBA test scores by classroom). Well, let's boycott the Union if they continue to let NCLB be the abomination it currently is. One suggestion to the Union in this effort: quit focusing solely on saving teacher jobs and start focusing on the teacher's job. I'm not scared by "merit pay", I'm scared that the job I am asked to do will simply cease to be tenable to me philosophically;
  • A major blitz of comment to our new, 100% Democratic New Mexico Congressional delegation. We elected them and this is a perfect opportunity to remember that, union help or no union help;
  • The Carl Chew option. Yeah, that's scary. Yeah we love our jobs and fear retribution. But at some point...
My ears are wide open to hear other ideas, whether they come from a new K-12 Gandhi or simply a teacher down the hall. We've got about 350 days until SBA 2010. We've got work to do.

P.S.: As a very small step here, I think I'm switching off "anonymous comments". Finally. I know, I know people can just make up names, etc. But at least it's a step toward something beyond hiding our screams and indignation.


Steve Brugge said...

Two things, Scot:

1. Even the 3% a year from Mr. Brooks is not possible. This, too, will lead to much pain for teachers.

2. We need a one-sentence state law that reads, "All testing for NCLB shall not require more than one school day."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Babble, your point of contacting the NM delegation has potential, don't you think? Would the Union lead that effort? How hard would it be to initiate such? I'm game. I'll follow your lead.

ched macquigg said...

Re; 3% growth.

Any growth number at all, is a number that is simply pulled out of a hat (or somewhere else which I will leave to your imagination).

You either do everything you can to raise performance, or something less. Then you can look back, measure progress, and assign a number to the past.

Assigning a number to the future is a feel good measure to give superintendents, board members and newspapers something to talk about.

jscotkey said...

At the risk of sounding like a shill for Superintendent Brooks, I'm going to respectfully disagree. I think 3% is both possible (in certain timeframes and conditions) and a good idea. I guess any number is "pulled out of a hat" to an extent, but especially relative to the crazy "100% by 2014" madness it looks very sane.

It's also true that any changes to the "rules" (subgroup sample size to "count", different assessment for Special Education students, etc.) messes with any gauge of improvement. I'll gladly throw out the 3% idea if those changes occur, but still think some gauge is worthwhile once the "rules" are finalized.

I know...I know...chances of rules being "finalized"...not very good. 3% possibility? Less?