Cory Roush

Dissonance and tension plus reflection and resolution equal intellectual growth

It's a school, not a McDonald's.

I was really enjoying this Columbus Dispatch editorial about the Ohio legislature’s recent decision to throw out the PARCC tests and create their own test… until this paragraph showed up:

“It’s not surprising that teachers loathe being judged on their effectiveness by how their students perform, and while that shouldn’t be the only measure for evaluation, it is an important one. In the business world, bosses are judged by employees’ work. Further, the argument that students shouldn’t be “stressed” with testing or can’t master necessary material is a silly one.”

I really hate that logic. Yes, bosses are judged by employees’ work. But a teacher is not a boss, and their students are not their employees.

Side note: I’m not even going to bother addressing that second part, complete with condescending air-quotes around the idea that students are stressed by testing. Dispatch editors, you’re lucky that anyone kept reading from that point on.

Employees are motivated externally by a paycheck and the potential for a raise or advancement… students most likely to succeed are the ones who are motivated internally, and a teacher can’t accomplish that in just a single school year, or without the help of parents.

Bosses also get to choose their employees; they can reward the good ones and get rid of the bad. Teachers start the school year with between 15 and 30 (if they’re lucky) new and unique students.

And finally, in most businesses, the most accurate metrics used to evaluate the effectiveness of a boss and the employees that work for them are easily counted and generally make themselves evident instantaneously: this number of cars made it through the drive-thru today, this amount of income was brought in by the restaurant last night, the factory produced 500 widgets and sold nearly all of them… so on and so forth.

The most accurate (that’s the key word, because we can certainly come up with metrics that are much more easily counted) metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of a teacher often take YEARS to be noticeable.

If I had to think back to my own childhood, it was my 2nd-grade teacher who first fostered my writing ability. There wasn’t a score at the end of that school year to label her as a “good” teacher, but years later, I’d take a proficiency test or the OGT and those results would seem to reflect the teachers that I had in THAT school year. If it weren’t for the contribution of almost EVERY teacher I had in the years leading up to those tests, my scores wouldn’t have been anything like what they ended up being.

Teaching. Takes. Time.

I was so encouraged by the start of this editorial because it begs ODE and the legislature to stick with one test and one curriculum for more than a year. It’s just a shame that their argument ends by, as usual, insinuating that “bad” teachers are bad “bosses” and should be punished for their “employees’” work.

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