The Modern Purpose of Public Education Is to Grade Teachers. Or So It Seems.
I teach public school in southern Louisiana, and I am on my second day of Christmas break.
Before I began my holidays, I had to reckon with the New Reality for public school teachers across the country: I had to tabulate my value based upon test scores of my students, scores that exist for the sole purpose of rating me.
It wasn’t pretty. The outcome indicated that my value is very low and that my students would have done better had I not shown up at all.
The above determination of my worth in the classroom is a numeric determination made by my entering test scores and student class averages into a “calculator” created by my district. The result is one of two numbers that will be averaged to account for 50 percent of my annual teacher evaluation.
Such comprises the 50 percent of my evaluation that must be quantitative. (Feel free to read about that here.)
On the surface, it seems like grading teachers using student test scores should work without a hitch. And it would, if I assumed an unethical, unhealthy control over those testing outcomes, including but not limited to somehow shaping the student population whom I serve, or giving students grades for work not completed, or removing/altering grades/falsifying my reporting, or drilling students into a narrowed perfection on the test used to grade me, or even blatantly feeding students the correct answers on the test used to grade me.
Given the flat weight I felt at having to officially report my own low value as part of some quantitative alternate reality, I understand why teachers resort to playing the low game in order to professionally survive.
I do not condone it, but I do understand it.
As for me, the quantitative piece by which I will be judged in the spring is Louisiana’s End of Course (EOC) tests. Fortunately for my students, my value tends to rise in the spring; the EOC test results tell me as much.
I must just be a better teacher in the spring than in the fall.
Of course, the test that grades me is different in the spring, but that couldn’t be it.
Tongue in cheek, my friends. Tongue in cheek.