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Monday, April 23, 2012

Why are classroom teachers being pulled out of schools to grade ELA exams, right before the math exams?


From a Brooklyn parent who prefers to remain nameless:
This past weekend my daughter and I spent several hours going over math problems, preparing for her 5th grade state math exams which will take place Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. I was very surprised this morning on our way to school when my daughter mentioned to me that she would have a sub, both for today and tomorrow, as her teacher would be out to grade last week's ELA exams at another school location.
I called the school to verify if this reason was accurate and the parent coordinator confirmed it was.  The reality is that the DOE now demands that each school send a certain number of classroom teachers based on enrollment to score these exams, during the school day, or the school must pay into a fund to hire scorers in their place.    It is up to each school to come up with a coverage strategy. Until recently, the DOE paid teachers overtime to do this, but now places the entire burden on the school.
Like many things about the standardized testing movement, removing classroom teachers the days before one of the two biggest exams of the year defies common sense.  Of the many idiotic things about standardized testing in this state, this has to rank up there beyond the "Pineapplegate" of last week.  Several obvious questions come to mind:
1.  Why are teachers being pulled the two days before the state math exams?  How does this help students? teachers? schools? NYSED? 
2.  If these tests are so important how does the state require schools to put substitutes in classes the two days before the most important tests of the year?  Yes, the math has been taught and learned all year and the two days shouldn't matter as if they were any two days of the year. But I am concerned about these particular two days, about providing continuity and structure to a class in the days leading up to an important exam.  Substitutes almost never provide that structure and everyone knows that.  Student performance will suffer as a result.
3.  If teachers, schools and principals are being judged by these test scores (their jobs are at stake), how is the state factoring in the fact that their teachers have been pulled from these classes in the days leading up to these tests?  
4.  Why couldn't the state wait one week before requiring teachers for grading?  Is that too much common sense?
Education politicians and bureaucrats who emphasize standardized testing as a means to determine all things about education and then set up structures that assist in ensuring student low performance should be removed from office. 
--5th grade parent, PS 261K

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am one of those teachers who was pulled from my students days before the Math exam. I did not ask to be sent to grade tests, and I even asked to be removed from the sessions so I could stay with my kids. I was flatly denied. Even if the DOE doesn't have the common sense to properly schedule grading sessions after the second round of tests, the administrators at individual schools should have the know-how not to send out the MATH TEACHERS. Really, really dumb.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, until New York City parents rise up as one and make themselves heard this nonsense will continue. Unfortunately, too many parents are busy blamimg teachers for things they have no control over. Teachers, like parents at their jobs, are employees bound by rules and regulations. Under Bloomberg, their voices have been silenced. Schools are slowly being destroyed by Bloomberg's incopetence and his unbridled ego.

Anonymous said...

No one should be pulled to grade period. This is an unfunded mandate imposed by the state on the city in order to turn around results fast enough to be used against teachers, principals and schools. It is not about the students. The testing company received 32 million dollars to design and provide the tests. They should grade them as a part of their contract, paying teachers after school and on weekends.

Anonymous said...

Common sense? By educrats? Really? Since when?

Anonymous said...

So agree with the posters so far - what is stopping all of us (parents) from producing an uprising........perhaps we are already convinced that our voices will silenced as are those of teachers.
Where is Union in all of this. I am stunned by THEIR silence!!!!

Anonymous said...

A follow-up question I would add: if it's so important to get the tests graded immediately, why are the results not released every year until August (or is this year supposed to be different)?

Anonymous said...

Because they need time to fiddle with raw score to scale score conversions to make the numbers come out the way they want them to. These conversions change every year, and lately so has the range for each performance level.