Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stallings Hits Another Educational Home Run

Jody Stallings has been an award-winning teacher in Charleston since 1992. He has served as Charleston County Teacher of the Year, Walmart Teacher of the Year, and CEA runner-up for National Educator of the Year. He currently teaches English at Moultrie Middle School and is director of the Charleston Teacher Alliance. This column is from the Moultrie News.

Teacher to Parent — Hold students accountable for their own learning
"Q. Recently I’ve heard of different districts using test scores as part of teacher evaluations. As a parent, I don’t see anything wrong with this. Why shouldn’t teachers be held accountable for test scores?

"A. I guess it sounds good on the surface. If a patient dies, it must be the doctor’s fault, right? Seems legit.

"As a teacher, I can tell you the one data point that wildly fluctuates more than any other is student test scores. As research (and any teacher) can tell you, a teacher whose scores are in the top 25 percent this year is very likely to be in the bottom 25 percent the next. Same teacher. Same curriculum. Different results. Weird, huh? How can this be? It’s almost as if student achievement has more to do with students than teachers. But I kid.

"Anyway, the idea of using test scores for evaluations has been thoroughly discredited about a hundred times for about a dozen years. The most notable study was an Economic Policy Report in 2010. That was seven years ago, but we’re still trying to ride the crippled horse. Why do districts keep coming back to something that is so problematic? I don’t know. Maybe because some elected leaders don’t have any better ideas and it seems like a quick and cheap fix. Or maybe it’s supposed to be motivational or something. You know, like “We’re going to throw one hostage off the plane every hour until we get what we want.” That sort of thing. As if teachers are just sandbagging it, saving their energy to bask in their money baths after school like Scrooge McDuck.

"A better approach — at least from a teacher’s perspective — would be to put policies in place that actually help us do the tough job of trying to educate students. If this were to happen, then maybe you really could hold teachers responsible for test scores because we would actually have the support we need to teach effectively. At a minimum, that would be these four things:

"1. Hold students accountable for their own learning. Teachers are often pressured to pass students who fail, and students who do fail are sent up to the next grade anyway. Each year this problem is compounded. There’s not even summer school anymore. How can you hold teachers responsible for educating students who have been groomed to believe there are no consequences for failure?

"2. Implement a discipline plan that works so teachers can concentrate more on teaching and less on classroom management. How can you hold teachers responsible for educating students when classrooms are out of control and teachers have little power to ensure that the focus is on learning?

"3. Hold parents accountable for supporting their children. They have vastly more influence on their kids than teachers ever will. Some leaders laud the success of charter schools, but they overlook the fact that those charter schools mandate parental support, and if it isn't given, those students can be removed from the school. How can you hold teachers responsible for educating students when their own parents don’t make them study, read, do homework, behave, or even show up?

"4. Give teachers more autonomy. It’s ironic when districts denigrate teachers for getting bad results when it was the districts that came up with the teaching methodologies to begin with. To paraphrase a famous coach, districts want to hold teachers accountable for how the meal tastes, but they don’t want to let us pick the recipes or shop for the groceries. How can you hold teachers responsible for educating students when, in many cases, their techniques, materials, textbooks, technology, pacing, and strategies are all mandated by someone else?

"I wouldn’t file any of these solutions under “Innovative.” I’d put them in the dusty, long-lost file labeled “Common Sense” that somewhere along the line fell behind the cabinet. Maybe it’s time we picked it up, dusted it off, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work.

"Wait a second. Common sense? Hard work? Hmm. Maybe it’s innovative after all."

Does anyone else wonder why Stallings's columns don't appear in the Post & Courier as well?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW bait and switch
23 1st through 3rd grade last year for the divisor
I had 27 all year in 2nd grade because they added the three grades
NOW bait and switch they said adding teachers and putting it back
It was 22 for 2nd grade
now next year 25 in 2nd and third and 20 in first grade
wow just wow

They created tons of new positions including an attorney just for the board
More slid in creating so many new positions yet no reading teachers returned and more students
go figure