Thursday, January 29, 2009

Expect to see lots of new faces at your child's school in the coming weeks!

In a disingenuous attempt to reduce the budget deficit at DoE Central, the Chancellor has mandated that each elementary and middle school in the city to send two teachers over fourteen days to score English Language Arts standardized tests. While the multiple choice part of the standardized tests is scored by computers, other parts need humans for scoring [fill in the blanks, short answers and essays]. DoE Central has touted this change as having reduced spending within the central office. However, it is a bogus claim because the costs of scoring tests are now shifted from central administration to individual schools.

In the past, the ELA tests were scored by teachers over winter recess (and spring recess for math tests). Teachers were paid "per session¨ (as in over time pay) for the hours they spent scoring. Per session money for test scoring came out of the central administration budget. With this new initiative, each individual school is responsible for paying for the substitute teachers needed to cover the teachers who are pulled away to score the tests. In a grand scheme of things, DoE does save money because paying for a substitute teacher is cheaper than paying a teacher per session fees. However, this change will shift the financial responsibilities from DoE Central to individual schools, whose budget has already been cut this year.

To make matters even more absurd, in middle schools only teachers licensed in ELA and Social Studies are allowed to score while in elementary schools all grade level teachers are eligible to score. This creates a particular hardship to small middle schools with small faculty. However, this license requirement does not seem to make sense since it appears that an elementary school teacher may be assigned to score an 8th grade test while a middle school teacher may be grading a 3rd grade test.

It is bad enough we divert so much of our teaching and learning to test prep, now adding insult to injury our children will have a musical chair of teachers for three weeks (at least it needs not be the same two teachers for three weeks). So, if your child comes home and tells you about various substitute teachers in her classroom for the next three weeks, most likely it is not because your child¡¦s teacher quit (although who can blame the teacher if she did!).

Many principals are up in arms about this new requirement - which comes on top of weeks in which they have been forced to take teachers out of their classrooms for many hours, to test students for DoE's expanded Gifted and Talented Program. More testing, less learning, indeed.


Anonymous said...

What about culling the substitute lists and seeing if you have appropriately licensed teachers in your ATR and sub reserve and have them mark the tests? I am one such person; licensd in JHS and HS Emglish[under the Board of Examiners], permanently state certified in English,and I am out on childcare leave. I taught for twelve years in NYC in Junior and senior high schools so I dare say could mark these exams- I marked the new regents.

Anonymous said...

Using ATRs makes sense to me, but then I'm not one of the 20-somethings running the DOE.

Humphrey Senegal said...

That makes sense to me at least there is a variety among teachers.

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Anonymous said...

A number of schools have been told to send three teachers, not two.

Apparently some principals protested and said they would only send two. The result? Letters in their files.

Anonymous said...

Certain programs and licenses are being singled out in some buildings: for example, the Library Media Program is being suspended in some schools, and these highly qualified professionals are being removed for several weeks.

Shino said...

The number of teachers to be sent away for scoring is apparently different depending on the size of the school. So, I am sure some larger schools are told to send three.

The early reports are alarming. Two teacher spent three days but scored only 40 tests each because the first day was spent waiting, waiting and waiting for the DoE to get it organized. One teacher spent the last 20 minutes of the first day scoring. What a terrible waste of talent.

I have also heard that many ATRs have been assigned to schools for other purposes. My daughter's small middle school has one teacher sent from the ATR. So, the DoE excuse is that there aren't enough teachers in the ATR. I don't buy it.

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