I genuinely do believe in accountability.
I think this message of mine gets lost when I rip on the bubble tests as being the end-all, be-all of assessment in public education.
Yes, I do want elevated academic performance.
Yes, I do want high student achievement.
Yep, I am a big fan of improved classroom work.
However, I think the measures we use to gage accountability in education are flawed… and when flawed measures are used to evaluate my job performance, it makes me want to cry foul.
Of course, it’s inarguable that accountability is not good for the kids. (Poor of a sentence as that may be.) We really do need to know that teachers are doing their jobs. And unfortunately/tragically we all know that there is a segment of our teaching population that takes incredible advantage of “the system”. They are not doing their jobs and it hurts us all.
I loathe those teachers. Truly.
So how do my bosses know if I am teaching my kids if my kids can’t “achieve” on their assessments?
Take my word for it?
They aren’t buying that. And really, I am not so sure that they should… at least not hook, line and sinker.
Yet from my perspective as a teacher, if you are using a flawed means of assessment (i.e. narrowly constricted bubble tests) to evaluate me, you are not really being fair to me.
A classic Catch 22 thus confronts us. Use knowingly deficient accountability measures to enforce higher educational standards which result in collateral damage being done to the classrooms of teachers who are very much doing a solid job in their careers (as I feel is being done to me by literally mandating I “raise my scores or lose my job”) or allow the lemons to hide behind false fronts and continue to dodge professional bullets.
The screws of accountability are being turned right now and it hurts. As I said, I have no problem with people measuring my performance, assessing my professionalism, or holding me to a high — or higher — standard. Actually, I’d be honored if you did. Come on down to room 6213 at Lynwood High any time.
Yet, by having reduced the essence of the work I do to solely that of standardized test scores, I just don’t feel it paints an accurate picture.
All in all, I am now a teacher focused on test prep. This is what the “accountability monster” has created… irrationalism. You can’t push one thing without pulling something else.
As I have been talking about all week, we are faced with the very real threat of having our school district taken over by the state with lots of people terminated in the process. Test scores are the first box on the check sheet they will look at. You either have good ones or you don’t.
And so I must raise them or “go gently into that goodnight”. (BTW, that’s an allusion to a philosophical reference which will not be tested on the bubbles so whether or not my students ever grasp this “ideal of living” is, I guess, superfluous. English Language Arts is about properly identifying the gerund phrase in a sentence these days… or nothing at all.)