Test Scores and Garage Doors.


Educators hate mandated testing.Garage Door Theory.

Hate.  Hate.  Hate it.

It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard (for those of you younger than 35… chalkboards were used to write on and deliver notes to students before your fancy whiteboards and SMARTBoards came along).

Yet, I think schools perform at a higher level because of testing (not a popular position, I know). 

That being said, I disagree with many of the decisions by the people (politicians) who have put testing in place.

The truth is people perform better when they are evaluated. 

I don’t like it.  You don’t like it.  Nobody likes it.

I’ve never met anyone who said "Yeah, it’s time for my evaluation.  Sweet!"

I can’t say testing has made students smarter, but I think it’s made teachers and administrators more accountable.

I also think it’s a mortal lock that everyone involved, from politicians to testing companies, has benefited more than kids from all this "testing business".

Don’t kid yourself, it’s big business.  Really big.

Those who demand more testing also seem to believe scores are a reflection of student intelligence.  Higher Scores = Better Teachers and Smarter Students.

I don’t buy this.

As educators, we face challenges that can’t be tested.

I think the number one challenge for education and educators in this country is poverty.

My late father-in-law used to say he could drive through any community and tell you their test scores.  He called it his "Garage Door Theory".

More garage doors equaled higher test scores.

Communites with large houses with three car garages did better than communities with smaller houses and fewer garages.

Maybe his theory was a bit simplistic.  Or maybe he was more correct than most of us want to believe.

Comments: 9
Tags: , , ,

Sports Are Fun. Testing Not So Much.


I have gone through different stages in my life.

From long-hair to shaved (again, way cooler than bald).  From student to superintendent (I haven’t been out of school since 1972).  From poor to making money and still being poor (why do bills arrive in direct proportion to the amount of money you earn?).clip_image001

Politically, I’ve gone from being a Democrat to Republican to Independent to Disenchanted to Just Confused and Hurt.

I’ve also been through stages regarding the amount of importance I place on athletics.

When I was a kid, there was nothing more important.

My world revolved around anything and everything that involved a bat, ball, club, basket, goal, or a game.

I knew every player (and their stats… and sadly, birthday) in every league.  Including hockey and indoor soccer (Go St. Louis Steamers!!!).

Then I grew up (sort of) and became a coach.  I still took sports seriously, but I began to see it wasn’t the only thing that mattered.

Losing does that to you.

After giving up coaching (I think it was my decision), I became a school administrator (also, my decision… I think).

At this point in my life I began to see athletics were just one of the many things that drove me crazy and made my phone ring (landline… old school).

Sports became less fun and more of a hassle.

I began to see athletics as a bother.  I was confused as to why parents didn’t care about testing as much as they did about sports.

Now I’m starting to come full circle.

Maybe I’m growing.  With age comes wisdom (at least that’s what old people tell young people).  Or more likely, I’m just a little less stupid (I’m so old, I remember when stupid was a bad word in school).

As I head into my golden years, I’m beginning to see there’s nothing more important than athletics.  Especially to a small town.

It’s the one thing that ties people together.

Successful small-town sports are like the Olympics.  People will support them even when they don’t personally know the participants.

Or understand the game.

I don’t have a clue about curling, but I’m the #1 fan every four years when the Winter Olympics is on 27 hours a day (USA! USA! USA!)

Community members behave in much the same way.  They may not like football, but if their favorite bag boy at the grocery store is the quarterback… suddenly they have a rooting interest.

They like the feeling they get when their team is doing well.

I’m willing to bet I could go to any town in America and spot a person wearing their high school colors within 2 minutes.

This is because people love belonging to a group.  This feeling is magnified when the group (team) is successful.

Schools and sports can provide this at a local level.

And at a much cheaper price than college or professional sports.

This is why, now and forever, people will always be more passionate about their kids (or neighbors) playing a game than they will about test scores.

It’s just more fun.

I’m not saying this is right.  I’m just saying this is the way it is.

Comments: 4
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Maybe It’s Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But It Should Be.


It’s that time of year.

The honeymoon is over.

The fat lady hasn’t sung, but she is warming up (is this an insult to fat or skinny people??).

If you work at a school it’s very likely that your patience is getting shorter, shorter, and/or gone.

We’re a long way away from the happiness the beginning of school brings and an even longer way from the next sweet sweet summer vacation.

It’s too early to start the year-end countdown (although I’m willing to bet each and every reader can name the person in their school that will start the countdown… usually by January 1) and it’s too late to remember how restful last summer was.Do You Ever Feel Like You're Getting Buried.

Each year fall arrives and brings a special feeling I like to call “I’ve Got to Find a New Job” or “I Hate Everyone Shorter Than 4’10”” or “I Should Have Been a ________________ (fill in your dream occupation here).”

This feeling is so recognizable.

It has an unmistakable look.  A sort of fake smile (or grimace).  There’s also an overall brooding.

This time of year, every school has employees who absolutely hate their job, their class, their school, and anything resembling a child.  It’s like every family has a crazy person (and if you think your family doesn’t… that means it’s you).

In general, teachers are tired.  They are beginning to feel like they are getting buried.

To compound the problem, parents have also had it.

And Principals need a vacation.

Notice I didn’t mention students.  That’s because they aren’t infected with this feeling, but they are carriers.

If the general malaise of the school year isn’t bad enough, we have two major catastrophes headed our way (and I use the word catastrophe in the best possible way).

The holidays and testing.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and Festivus (and any other holidays you may or may not celebrate) ruin November and December (I use ruin in the nicest way possible).

Actually the holidays aren’t so bad, but the music stinks (I hate those holiday songs… every last one of them).

Testing gives us all a giant noogie around March and April (I use giant noogie instead of a kick in the …).

These events (and 20 more just like them) are exhausting.

There is no other way to say it… working in education is flat-out tiring.

People who have regular jobs don’t understand this.  They get less time off than we do, so it’s hard to relate to our working conditions.

Educating students is draining.

That being said, I think we can often be our own worst enemy.  It’s easy to fall into the trap where we think our jobs are harder and more stressful than any other profession.

They aren’t.

Being an educator is hard.  It’s just not that hard.

Lawyers, doctors, trash collectors, waitresses, construction workers, welders and everyone else (if they are lucky enough to be employed in this day and age) also have difficult jobs.

It’s not just us.

It’s not just our class.

It’s not just our school.

It’s not just this year’s parents.

Shockingly, it’s not even the administrators (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

All jobs, when done correctly are difficult, time-consuming and tiring.

Teaching (or anything in education) is no different.

I don’t think we are wrong in pointing out the challenges we face.  I just think we are wrong when we throw ourselves a pity party.

Maybe this year’s class is more difficult than usual.

Maybe they don’t listen or aren’t as respectful as they should be.  Our job(s) is to make them better.  At least a little better before we send them on to their next grade level (if we send them on… and if they are really bad… they are so getting sent on…).

Administrators face some of the same challenges.  Maybe our employees aren’t all perfect.  Our job is to help them improve.

If it was easy, everybody would go into education.

And we don’t want that.

Because if that happens, they just might figure out how good we really have it.

Comments: 5
Tags: , , , ,

Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.