Florida Teacher Faces Dismissal Over Computerized Music Testing
In Florida, music teachers must administer computerized tests to assess themselves.
It is a setup.
If students have difficulty with signing onto the computer, or with submitting a response, the teacher assisting these students could be accused of cheating.
It’s called “zero tolerance.”
On October 28, 2016, the Tampa Bay Times published a story about a music teacher who was accused of cheating on the computerized test designed to test her.
Never mind that the outcome of the test was terrible. Zero tolerance.
Never mind that using computerized tests to determine fine arts outcomes is imbecilic on its face. The State of Florida wants to test all teachers in their subject areas, and the narrow, unrealistic practice of using computerized standardized tests to determine teacher worth might as well be extended to its illogical extreme.
Instruments down, kids. Time to grade the music teacher. Have a seat at the computer.
From the Tampa Bay Times story on Hillsborough County music teacher, Vanessa Lewis:
Lewis, who was used to a format in which she played music and read questions, now had to administer the test via computer. She is not good at technology. And she missed a training session, relying on the school’s art teacher to fill her in on the instructions.
Her kids, who had in some cases sat through weeks of testing already, were exhausted.
“They were done,” she said.
Still, her job depended on their scores.
Children told their teachers that Lewis fed them some of the answers.
“My own students said it took forever because they had to sit with their hands raised until she came to them and checked their answers,” third-grade teacher Kim Galang told the district. And it was a good thing, a child reportedly told Galang, “because I had like five wrong.”
“She pointed to one and said, ‘That’s wrong,’ ” a second-grader told the principal.
Lewis rebutted their statements, one by one. She said she did not tell the second-grader that the answer was wrong, but that the child had not submitted the answer properly. She admitted that she told a fourth-grade child to “read the question regarding beats.” But she insisted she did not give the answer.
She said the seven children interviewed did not reflect all 800 she taught. That teachers who made statements against her were not even there. That little kids can’t be expected to navigate a test like that without help.
Lewis points to the test scores as evidence she didn’t cheat. They were terrible, she said. “In the toilet.”
She hired an attorney to represent her in the termination case that is now under way. He is asking for an open hearing before the School Board in December.
Whether she actually meant to cheat may not matter.
Hillsborough has a zero-tolerance policy for testing irregularities.
Even helping a kid catch a blank question can get you fired.
In August 2016, ABC News reported that Hillsborough County had the largest number of teacher shortages in Florida as of July 2016 and was actively recruiting from as far as Puerto Rico to address the problem.
Hillsborough County would do well to address setting its current teachers up for cheating accusations when they are forced into precarious, “zero tolerance” situations involving nonsensical computerized testing.