Friday, December 09, 2011

Turning the tables.

How many of you, as a 9th grader would have jumped at the opportunity to teach your teachers?  Three of ours got the chance this afternoon.
It was Friday afternoon, professional development time.  Today we were taking about authentic assessments and alternative assessments.  Tests.
The science teacher had done a survey of all her student on their opinions about tests; which kinds they liked the best, how they used the results of the tests and how they perceived the teachers using the results.
The entire faculty was there, all the teachers, the counselors and even the Assistant and Principal.  The boy started the session off with a test, on trivia.  He fell right into the roll of teacher, and was obviously enjoying it.  During the test the science teacher asked me if I would get some pictures of the kids playing teacher for their teachers.  I stood up to go get my camera.
“Mr. Rossi, sit down, we’re taking a test.” the boy said.  It wasn’t arrogant, he was just playing the part.
I raised my hand and asked “May I use the hall pass, Mrs. B wants me to get my camera.”
He told me that I could, but to hurry back.
As you can probably guess, the teachers were pretty obnoxious at the beginning, peppering him with all the questions we're used to hearing.
“Is this going to count on my grade?”
“How many points is this worth?”
“Can I make this test up if I blow it?”
And etcetera and so forth.
After the initial thrill of giving back what we are accustomed to getting, the whole thing went quite well.  The two girls presented the finding of the survey.  I cropped the pictures, but didn’t shrink them so you can see the results for yourself, but there was one finding that I was surprised by.
For the answer to the question “What is your favorite type of assessment”, Computer Testing was dead last, below even the Essay Test.
It took me a minute, I was sincerely shocked, but it finally occurred to me: we’re killing them with computer tests.  YPP (Yearly Progress Pro, taken weekly in some schools), Acuity and the end of the year NCLB tests.  Not to mention all the other computer based tests in subjects other than math, of which I know nothing.  Last year my math department did the math and figured out that we were spending 16% of our class time computer testing.
All of that aside, I couldn’t help chuckling through the whole thing, at the irony of these three kids teaching the whole faculty.  And being amazed at how comfortable they appeared to be doing it.
These three, and kids like them, (hopefully) are going to be running the world when I’m collecting what’s left of Social Security.


Alexia said...

Very interesting. And what great PD, where people actually learn something useful!

Lisa Shafer said...

I'm not at ALL surprised that a computer test was dead last. I think your school is still ignoring some of the district-mandated testing; we're not. That means that 7th graders do acuity AND English testing, usually every week to 10 days, YPP in math AND English every two weeks, SRI once a term, and DWA 3 times a year. Plus, they're often taken in for STAR tests as well.
Test scores are falling, not rising. Apathy has set in. They don't care how they do, even though we make them chart their progress for points in class.

THIS IS WHY WE CANNOT GO TO TEACHER PERFORMANCE PAY. It will not work. It is NOT the business model because in business settings employees do NOT get paid based on how well someone else performs. That would be absurd.

Yes, I'm ranting. I'll shut up now.

Max Sartin said...

Alexia - this is one of the reasons I keep choosing to work with this principal. She is strong on relevant professional development and also prefers to rely on her own staff (and apparently also students) to provide it.

Max Sartin said...

Lisa - I completely agree that Teacher Performance Pay should not, and cannot, be based on Standardized Testing, although I would change one of your sentences slightly.
"In the business settings employees do NOT get paid based on how well someone else (that they are forced to work with) performs.
Middle and lower management personnel are routinely given performance bonuses depending on how well the organization runs. The big difference is that these people get to HAND PICK the people that they manage and are allowed to remove ones that do not meet their expectations.
Let me hand pick the students in my math classes and I would gladly accept this performance pay proposal based on test scores.
The problem with these people who want to "follow the business model" is that Education cannot 100% follow the model, and the component that is left out is key to the business model success.
It's the same with the private/public school debate. Public schools CANNOT follow the private school model 100%. We are incapable of hand picking our students, removing disruptive students (unless they get dangerous) and requiring certain expectations from the parents. By law, we MUST take every student that lives in our school boundaries, regardless of their abilities. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, every child deserves the opportunity to be educated, but that key component makes public schools incomparable to private schools.

Lisa Shafer said...

There are still plenty of jobs where one's performance is just that: one's OWN performance. Those are the jobs of which I was thinking.

I'm also not surprised that the kids like clicker tests the best, as those don't do much except tell the teacher yes or no on whether or not kids understand something. And lying is easy there for kids and won't hurt their grade. A fun toy, but not really all that useful, in my opinion.

Karen S. said...

Oh Max, how cool! I so want to come to your class...Please, please be my teacher..what! It's too late for me....oh well...(I wish I had as great a teachers as there are out there today....) and Max you have always amazed me with your classroom tidbits! There are some lucky students out there...(TAKE NOTE KIDS!) and the world is gonna need everyone of them! You SO ROCK Max!

Max Sartin said...

Karen - Thanks, although for this one the kudos goes to our amazing science teacher. Getting the kids involved was her idea, and she certainly picked the right ones to do it.
I wasn't at the school last year, but she went through breast cancer treatment and was so open and honest about it with the kids that I have been there when kids have talked to her about someone in their family who was just diagnosed with it. She gave them comfort, advice and resources to help them deal with it. Truly awesome.