Run, Run as Fast as You Can

7:20 am

Recently, The Oregonian has published a few articles about the new “Race to the Top” grant that Portland Public Schools has signed on for, along with many other Oregon school districts.  The grant stipulates that a student’s test scores will follow teachers, and be part of a teacher’s professional file.  Indeed, a teacher will be evaluated based on a student’s standardized test scores. The state’s willingness to sign on smacks of desperation and ignorance.

Besides the obvious, that “one test does not a good teacher make”, there are numerous other reasons why this clause in the grant is ludicrous.  One is that not all grade levels are tested.  Indeed 3rd-8th and 10th grades are tested consistently in math and reading.  If you teach K-2nd grade, or 9th, 11th, or 12th grades, you just may have dodged a bullet.  In addition, if a teacher teaches subjects such as art, P.E., or social studies, which are not currently tested, then the testing does not apply to them. I would hesitate to bring this up to the state, however, as their answer might very well be to test in every single subject, every, single, year.

I know fabulous teachers who teach at schools that have not traditionally done well on standardized tests.  I happen to teach in a cluster in PPS that typically has low test scores.  I could teach in another cluster, but I choose not to.  Does a teacher magically become a better teacher if he or she moves to a school with higher test scores?  Apparently the state of Oregon thinks so.  I  cut one of the Oregonian articles out to pass around to the staff at my school.  Many teachers said that they would like to consider withholding their dues to the OEA, as our state teacher’s union has signed on with this as well.

There are many, many influences in a child’s life.  A teacher is just one of them.  This heinous grant asserts that a teacher’s sole purpose is to get a child to pass some contrived, intrusive test that has little to do with what he or she does on a daily basis, while also asserting that a teacher is the only one responsible if said child passes or fails.   I’m sorry, but “No Child Left Behind” is starting to look like a picnic.  We need to run far away from “Race to the Top.”

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Sheila Wilcox is a PPS parent and K8 teacher.

filed under: Assessment, Demographics, Grants, Media, National, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, State

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6 Responses

  1. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Aw, Sheila, let ’em keep bashing on teachers, what the heck, reconstitute us all, pay us minimum wage, why not? And with the current baby boomer teachers bailing out, it’s become such a great, tempting, LUCRATIVE career to go into…..after all, the idiots that post on Oregonlive seem to think we’ve all got it way too easy….

    Seriously, this “Race to the Top” is such skewed, wacko thinking, when it creates a teacher shortage where teachers are needed the most, maybe that will wake people up? I don’t get the OEA’s thinking on this, would like to know WHY? I just don’t get any of this. It defies logic.

  2. Comment from S. Wilcox:

    Yes it does. But you’re right, Merry. When we complain about it, we are accused of not wanting to be evaluated at all. Everyone who ever had a bad experience with a teacher (and there are a few bad ones, I agree) comes out of the woodwork and wants to skewer us all. I just want to be evaluated on what I do, not on what kinds of homes my students come from, or where they live.

  3. Comment from lek:

    Do you know if there will be provisions for special ed kids? My son with autism is academically on track but cant test well; also will this create an exodus of great teachers to better performing schools, to protect there jobs.

  4. Comment from S. Wilcox:

    Good questions, none of which were addressed before PPS signed on. Good policy. Sign now, ask questions later.

  5. Comment from marcia:

    It seems to be the new way of thinking….place all the focus on the teacher…(or blame)…I was at a conference recently where Richard Allington was speaking..He pointed out that Bill Gates has admitted defeat with his small schools program (duh)..and his new agenda is making the teachers better…We need to just teach better and longer…and get some training…(thanks Bill_…)Allington said to expect reading about this new focus in the New York Times..etc etc…And personally I think he has a direct phone line to Obama’s illustrious Education Secretary…Mr. Charter School from Chicago…what’s his name…the former basketball player who was never an educator…hmmm…

  6. Comment from HS teacher:

    I’ll sign on with gusto – it’s a great idea! Oh! What? You mean there is no such thing as a standardized learner? You’re telling me that they learn at different rates and at different levels? Oh. never mind. Let me know when the students are standardized. THEN we can talk merit pay, accountability, and standardized tests!