Thursday, September 13, 2012

One of the Several Issues of the CTU Strike

“...Lawmakers in Illinois, as part of the state’s bid under Race to the Top, passed legislation last year requiring that at least 25 percent of a teacher’s rating be based on student test scores.

“In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel drew the ire of the Chicago Teachers Union in part because he wants to increase the weight given to student test scores over five years, with the scores ultimately accounting for 40 percent of a teacher’s job performance rating. Those with consistently poor ratings would lose their jobs.

“Emanuel is not alone in placing a heavy value on student scores. In at least 13 states, test scores account for 50 percent of a teacher’s rating, according to the Education Commission of the States. Still, measuring good teaching is complex, and unions and experts who have studied evaluation systems say student scores should not make up 50 percent of a teacher’s job rating.

“Some states are now considering plans that would give as much as 50 percent of the weight in teacher evaluation and compensation decisions to scores on existing tests of basic skills in math and reading,’ 10 leading academics wrote in a 2010 paper published by the Economic Policy Institute. ‘Based on the evidence, we consider this unwise. Any sound evaluation will necessarily involve a balancing of many factors that provide a more accurate view of what teachers in fact do in the classroom.’

“Critics say the emphasis on test scores places too much pressure on teachers and students, creating a ‘teaching to the test’ mind-set, narrowing the curriculum and, in the worst cases, resulting in cheating scandals…” (Lyndsey Layton, Issues at heart of Chicago teachers strikeplaying out in classrooms nationwide).

A few David Reber questions to ask: “…Are police required to eliminate [a certain percentage of] crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate [a certain percentage of] fires? Are doctors required to cure [a certain percentage of] patients? Are lawyers required to win [a certain percentage of] cases? Are coaches required to win [a certain percentage of] games? Of course, they aren’t.

“For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

“If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burn downs his house, suffers third degree burns and then goes to jail, we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.

“And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise, don’t listen. He must be a teacher” (David Reber, In What Other Profession).

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