by Terry Moore, Guest Blogger
Both of your guests [on August 7], David Greene and Keith Reeves, allowed the time, gave a cogent explanation of the problem with standardized testing in our schools and the misinformation concerning tenure.
I am a retired third grade teacher. I have seen teachers fired and attempts made to help the teachers improve. The latter is much more effective. I hope Whoopi’s children are not dismissed from school if they don’t receive an A on every assignment.
Tenure, Axes to Grind, & Parental Opinion
In the case of one fired teacher, the superintendent was despised by most of the staff in the district due to her strict, top down and impersonal style of supervising. She disliked this teacher very much, made it known and then after a contentious battle, the teacher was let go. But she at least had due process and it was apparent that she was targeted by the super. The superintendent quietly left the district the following year, due to many reasons (so superintendents can be fired was well).
I had an experience where, when teaching about Columbus and his introduction to “The New World” slavery and genocide, was approached by a group of angry parents. If not for tenure the ensuing meeting between the principal, union and the parents, I could possibly been fired. In the end it became an dialogue that changed some parents’ minds.
Authentic Assessment Alternatives
Two alternatives to standardized testing, addressed by both of your guests, are individualized student assessment (we KNOW our students) and portfolios. But there are mediums besides writing to share knowledge and indicate learning to the teacher.
When [we] finished a unit, children in my class were allowed to work individually or in groups to show what they learned. That included using song, poetry, acting (skits), writing letters to editors, talk shows, collages, etc. This opened up my students to the manifest ways that people learn and share with others and gave me the opportunity to assess them with a rubric for their projects that they were to complete and my personal assessment.
The other (of many) ways to assess is portfolios. The children, depending on their age, gather during the year, drafts and finished products of their work, which can include letters, essays, responses to books, etc.
I mentioned in a response to Ms. Goldberg, that having been a student and apparent does give you some insight into the profession but not such sweeping statements as “tenure is forever.” Being a patient in the hospital does not give me the right to be an expert on the TV show The Doctors. Such is the nature of celebrity in our culture.
Excellent show, excellent program.
Terry Moore is Information Coordinator for Save Our Schools March. David Greene, who appeared on the August 7 Education Town Hall, is a member of SOS.