Wasting Class Time
- Subject: Wasting Class Time
- From: George Sheridan <learn@JPS.NET>
- Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 19:39:42 -0800
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
In a recent conversation with teachers from large urban districts in Orange
County (California), I learned that in one district with a large population
of Limited English Proficient students, teachers were told to concentrate
on teaching math--because it's easier to raise those scores in the short
term than to make students proficient in English. Never mind what students
- or society as a whole - might need in the long run.
In the same district, I am told, administrators have instituted a system of
triage. Whereas teachers serving needy populations often devote much of
their time and effort to students in the bottom third of the class,
teachers in this district have been told to focus on the middle third. The
theory is that with much effort a student might move from the second to the
tenth percentile, but it wouldn't help the API (Academic Performance
Index). Students at the 35th or 40th percentile might be able to get scores
above 50. The goal is to get "above the mean."
A teacher described the horrible feeling of meeting with parents at the
first conference, informing them that their child was likely to be retained
because she was far from "meeting standards," and knowing (as parents
asked, "What can we do, Senora?") that she was not supposed to "waste"
class time on assisting those students.
At the school where one of my informants works, the principal discourages
field trips and assemblies, so that teachers and students can focus on
tested curriculum. Of course, these co-curricular activities are the very
thing that students would be most likely to remember and that would be most
likely to build a positive attitude toward school.
When it was time for physical fitness testing, one teacher pointed out that
students had had no opportunity to develop these abilities. Every activity
is supposed to be related to the math and English tests, so many elementary
classes have stopped having P.E.
Black Oak Mine Teachers Association, CTA/NEA
Garden Valley, California
"Intelligence, in short, is not a thing but a behavior. It is not something
we possess but something we do."
British psychologist Ken Richardson, in his book The Making of Intelligence
(Quoted by Evans Clinchy in a forthcoming book)
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