Letter to the Editor: Montclair Teachers, Administrators, Parents and Students Must be Willing to Work Together

BY  |  Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (40)

letter to the editorA recent blog post, written by the departing head of Guidance at the High School, has added fuel to the fire surrounding the new Superintendent’s administration and the Board of Education. His perspective was blunt and clearly angry; he had some valid points to make, but missed what is really going on in our school system.

Nearly a year ago, the brand-new superintendent, Penny MacCormack, fresh off handling the Sandy crisis in her first days on the job, invited the chairs of all of the PTAs and School Action Teams to a meeting. She listened, we talked. As co-Chair of the MHS School Action Team at that time (MHS has no PTA), I spoke to our challenges and our opportunities.

We described the High School as a diamond in the rough, and told her that it should be the district’s crown jewel. It’s a wonderful school in many regards, but the quality of education and guidance our children receive there is nowhere near what it could or should be.

When the MHS principal, James Earle, arrived four years ago, it was to a school that had been led by a nearly absent principal on the verge of retirement, followed by an interim principal who commuted from Florida for half the year. The Head of Guidance left for a year and then came back, leaving a void in the interim. My own son was treated to a different guidance counselor every year he was there. The school felt chaotic, and it was.

In the midst of budget cuts, it has been hard watching amenities and new buildings around town while seemingly no resources came to the High School. We made it clear to Dr. MacCormack that the High School needed to be put on the front burner immediately, and she has responded.

Today if you walk the halls, it feels like a school that is in control. Absences and skipping have been reduced, and students behave and dress more respectfully. Parent groups have worked to improve the appearance of the school from the outside, and are now at work on advocating for inside improvements. Communication has been transformed. Nothing is perfect here – but we are on the way.

There are many issues still to address on an academic level. Interestingly, one of the most egregious issues described by frustrated parents at SAT meetings has been the mid-term and final exams—exams which often did not capture what was happening in class, lacked adequate review, and were long and stressful.

The new testing system is far from the albatross of standardized testing described by some of its opponents. Instead, our students will be given quarterly exams lasting one hour. These tests will be used by teachers, administrators and (most importantly) studentsto assess their progress and figure out what they need to work on. Rather than waiting until the material is too old to be retrievable, teachers can work in real time to ensure their students master the material.

Traditionally at MHS, those at the top and the bottom have gotten lots of attention. But this is a school of over 2000 students, and most are in the middle. If they aren’t self-starters, able to advocate for themselves, they get lost. We cannot just throw up our hands and say that the status quo is good enough. Teachers, administrators, parents and students must be willing to start working together rather than regarding each other suspiciously.

Parents who are not happy with how things are going have a great resource that does not require petitions or acrimony: the School Action Team (the current chairs are Grace Grund and Linda Bowers). The main goal of the SAT over the past few years has been to address issues head-on, and to build a sense of community. Participation is the only way to do that. Hopefully more parents will begin to participate, as well as more teachers (some already do) – both by offering opinions as well as rolling up their sleeves to get to work. Condemning hardworking volunteers or professionals (particularly if you’ve already left) is not constructive. Participating in an earnest and productive process is.

Helen Mazarakis is former co-Chair of the Montclair High School School Action Team (2010/11-2012/13)and was a member of the Team from 2007.

40 Comments

  1. POSTED BY rachaelegan  |  October 15, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    Then why did the BOE stop the Teacher’s Union Rep from speaking at meetings? The teachers union WANTS to participate- but it seems that the very people who keep calling for participation, simply want capitulation. There’s a difference there.

  2. POSTED BY alic314  |  October 15, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    rachaelegan – it is my understanding that the BOE has not stopped the Union Rep from speaking at meetings, they simply cannot take up all the time to speak during the open floor session of the meetings, in order to let other shave the mic to speak.

    Ideal?-maybe not, but there is a time slot there for speaking.Your comment is not entirely accurate.

    And the SAT committee has nothing to do with that decision made by the BOE, so I’m not certain why you are asking it here.

  3. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  October 15, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

    This was.s.good blog by a committed and respected parent. The SAT is to be commended. Will they, however, ask serious questions regarding Mr. Whites’ departure? Will they seek to find out if his complaints are justified? Too much of this seems to be directed st simply defending the superintendent uncritically.
    Alic314, why does every critical response need to be immediately shot down? What are you afraid of? rachelegan’s point is valid: the most important place for the teachers to be heard is with the BOE. The BOE behaved disrespectful toward the teachers. No one can reasonably argue against that. The SAT does not replace the BOE for the teachers.

  4. POSTED BY mtclrsown  |  October 15, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

    Btw Alic, the reason the MEA was allowed to speak at the previous meeting was because Ms. Shephard happens to be a Montclair resident and got her 3 minutes (and the was cut-off), not because the union was given their place on the agenda (as had been done for the previous 4 decades). Hence, your comment is not accurate.

    As for Mrs. Mazarakis’ opinion…I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll just leave it with attention to one point: if Mrs Mazarakis cared so much about those “have-nots”, she would realize testing them into oblivion (with quarterlies not mandated by the state, while most teachers already keep track of their students’ progress with assessments), and submitting Montclair to corporate reforms only seeks to divide the haves and the have-nots even further.

    If Mrs. Mazarakis really wants to close that achievement gap…tackle the one thing that could make a real difference…socioeconomic disparity. Get those kids on the lower-end of the socioeconomic ladder an SAT/PARCC/Quarterly tutor. How about getting them a college counselor outside of the provided guidance counselors? How about buying them those review books that seem to be so readily available for the “haves”.

    This isn’t a plea that change shouldn’t happen. This is a statement of fact. The achievement gap DOES NOT get reduced via a testing model. And, by the way Mrs. Mazarakis, if these quarterlies were really about the students, wouldn’t all of them have to take them? Why are some exempt? Where’s the equity in that?

  5. POSTED BY qby33  |  October 15, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    Here is my simple answer to everyone on these recent school issues. ASK THE TEACHERS. Also ask the Principals. Let’s get an idea from those working in the schools how they are feeling. The parents in this town seem overly involved and seem to make this so much about themselves. You all don’t have a clue what is really going on IN the schools. How is the morale IN the schools? I don’t care what new mandates are in place, but when a Superintendent rolls in the way this one did, I think people better start to pay attention and realize that all these changes happening ALL at once are no good for anyone. There are plenty of educators in Montclair schools that are parents here as well. I know what some of their opinions are of all of this is. Do you?

  6. POSTED BY mtclrsown  |  October 15, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

    QBY33,

    Here’s the problem with that…teachers fear reprisal with this current BOE and Super (and even their administrators). Why do you think Mr. White waited until he left to speak his mind in public? With the change in tenure laws, they don’t feel comfortable speaking out on the current conditions, morale, etc (not that they did before the laws changed).

    Lastly, with everyone and their mother claiming to know what’s best for education, teachers have been left-out of the conversation because the profession is becoming de-professionalized (as in, “Those who can’t, teach.” Anyone can teach). Look at the current BOE…any educators up there?

  7. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 15, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

    “with quarterlies not mandated by the state, while most teachers already keep track of their students’ progress with assessments”

    So in fact assessments were already occurring, and the only change is that they’re to be common across the district?

    …Andrew

  8. POSTED BY xyz68  |  October 15, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

    mtclrsown,

    You are exactly right. I am a veteran teacher in Montclair and can say that many of us are terrified of the reprisals if we speak out. Many of us have been dying to have our voices heard, but it has been made abundantly clear that neither our opinions nor expertise are welcome in this conversation.

  9. POSTED BY jdmaccb  |  October 15, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

    Brother Gideon:

    Your post makes no sense.

    There is something very odd about your posts.

    I wonder…

    Judah MaccB

  10. POSTED BY johnqp  |  October 15, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

    Bluntly speaking – At the moment, the High School seems to be testing our kids into oblivion. Talk about overkill.

  11. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 15, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

    “the High School seems to be testing our kids into oblivion”

    How so? Unit tests, midterms, finals, HSPAs, AP exams if applicable? SATs, PSATs, and I believe one other admission-related test? It does seem like a lot. However, this is almost exactly what I experienced decades ago (replacing HSPAs with various New York State Regents tests). What’s changed?

    …Andrew

    P.S. I still have fond recollections of the DBQ on a History AP. Tests can be fun.

  12. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 15, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

    “Hence, your comment is not accurate.”

    alic314′s statement is correct. The MEA representative was permitted to speak. You assert that this was because she is a Montclair citizen, but I don’t believe that the case. I recall at least once previously a non-resident addressing the BOE during public comments.

    It is true that the MEA (and PTA) lost their glorified places on the agenda. I admit I don’t know why. That didn’t preclude anyone from speaking, though, so the assertion that the MEA representative was prevented from speaking is both false and unnecessarily inflammatory.

    …Andrew

  13. POSTED BY mtclrsown  |  October 15, 2013 @ 8:59 pm

    xyz68,

    Of course you’re afraid. I have spoken with many teachers in town who feel the same way and are unable to voice their concerns for fear of the backlash. What does that say about the ability to have such dialogue with superiors? Are all teachers just wrongly assuming they won’t be heard? I find that hard to believe. The message has been “get in line or else”. Sure, I can see why you and others won’t speak up.

  14. POSTED BY johnqp  |  October 15, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

    Jolly good for you, Andrew.

  15. POSTED BY qby33  |  October 15, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

    Xyz68 and mtclrsown…..I hear you. Wishful thinking on my part. It takes courage to stand up and speak and I know the current SI would not be welcoming of it. I just hope someone does before its to late. She is out of control!

  16. POSTED BY marcella  |  October 15, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

    Andrew why should assessments be common when the classes are not? They are very much different. Some overcrowded with predominately black students which also contain students who are not being serviced because the district is not in compliance with their IEPs. Others predominately white with much less students enrolled. And FYI TEACHERS ASSESS EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY!

  17. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 15, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

    “Jolly good for you, Andrew.”

    Do you actually have information with regard to testing in the HS, or are you just repeating what you’ve been told?

    …Andrew

  18. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 15, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

    “Andrew why should assessments be common when the classes are not?”

    Assuming we’re speaking of difference instances of the same class: they should be common. If they are not, that’s a problem that requires correction.

    Which different instances (does the HS use the word “section” for this?) of a single class are divided as you describe?

    “And FYI TEACHERS ASSESS EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY!”

    I’ve heard this, and I’m sure that they all mean to do so perfectly, yet I’ve also seen kids fall through the cracks where formal assessments were not applied. Many other professions employ various means of validation to deal with our own imperfect natures. Why should we take less good care of our children?

    When I’m flying, I can do it with or without being under RADAR “control”. I’ll always choose the latter, if only to have an extra set of eyes watching Just In Case. A friend that builds cabinets is always repeating “measure twice, cut once”. Redundant checks are common practice where quality counts.

    When we’re speaking of the education of our children, quality definitely counts.

    …Andrew

  19. POSTED BY marcella  |  October 15, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

    Your comment was not clear but I will try to address it. I have a student in the HS that needs a lot of pushing (need I say dragging) and I am highly motivated to ensure he is educated so dialogue with teachers has always been constant. It has not always been smooth sailing with all teachers but I must say for the most part teachers always went above and beyond. They are usually dead on with knowing what the deal is before they even give him a formative assessment because like I tried to express before teaching is a constant assessment and this I know because I teach. If there is something more specific about tests in the HS or anything else you are referring to let me know.

  20. POSTED BY rachaelegan  |  October 15, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

    alic and agideon- please read Montclair Times, September 25th….Members of the Montclair Education Association voiced their anger and opposition to the board’s action removing MEA President Gayl Shepard from her regular spot in formal agenda of the board’s monthly public meetings, and relegating Shepard to a three-minute slot along with other residents and parents during the public comment sections of the sessions.

    A visibly upset Shepard described the move as “the equivalent of asking the MEA to sit in the back of the bus.”

    - See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/224981732_Montclair_teachers_angered_by_board_s_move.html#sthash.s9MiOoyQ.dpuf

  21. POSTED BY nycmontclair  |  October 16, 2013 @ 12:08 am

    Addressing the issue of testing, I grew up in Queens in the 1970′s and 1980′s and standardized tests were very common. Even as a child I wondered what they actually proved. I was terrible at math and science, yet I always did very well on my standardized exams because I learned how to take the tests. Conversely, my best friend who was one of the best students in the school did not do nearly as well on the tests as she did in class because she would get nervous and not test well. As a result, I was placed in classes I struggled in and she was placed in classes below her ability.

    At the beginning of this school year, a friend’s son did not do well on his 2nd grade pre-assessment test for math and was subsequently pulled out of class for three days, before the mother found out, for what they call “i-Time”. The teacher assessed from the exam that he needed help in math. But in actuality, he is doing just fine in math. He just gets nervous before tests and doesn’t focus well.

    I would hope the work done in class would be a greater indicator of a child’s progress than some standardized test.

  22. POSTED BY helenm  |  October 16, 2013 @ 7:20 am

    I don’t understand why two tests of 2+ hours each, with inadequate review and no follow-up are preferable to four tests of 1 hour (actually less – they are held in the normal class time) and give students the chance to see what they got wrong. I prefer the latter.

    These are not “standardized tests.” They are co-written by the teachers who are teaching the same class (so all geometry 1 classes are tested on the same material). This is not MORE testing; it is DIFFERENT testing. The previous approach was not working, and it is always possible that this approach won’t work either. But I believe it will help the kids I know.

    No one ever suggested that teachers do not assess all the time. But one of the big problems at the High School was extremely uneven teaching across the same classes. Mr. Earle has been clear since he arrived that he wanted to promote consistency. That means the same material is presented to all students of the same class, over the same period of time. It does not mean that creativity of presentation is squelched, and our good teachers understand that. In fact, it is an opportunity for collegiality, for mentoring each other, for revisiting techniques and methods.

  23. POSTED BY helenm  |  October 16, 2013 @ 7:22 am

    Sorry – I meant to sign that -
    Helen Mazarakis

  24. POSTED BY crankinmontclair  |  October 16, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    More frequent, shorter, and lower stakes tests vs less frequent, longer, higher stakes testing….I pick the former, and agree with helenm.
    Example: My kid had a substitute teacher in math for an entire school year (minus three weeks). She learned so little that she was unprepared for the next level of math (as was the case for many of her classmates). If there had been common assessments, this may not have happened.
    This new system may or may not be successful. But the old system was not working! Nobody likes change and nobody likes more supervision (myself included), but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

  25. POSTED BY mtclmom  |  October 16, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

    Hi Crankin, Can you provide me with an example of where these changes (and there are numerous examples across the country) have worked? That would be very helpful. I follow education reform and have read much about these changes and it turns out to be very expensive and unproven. Why should I allow these changes which I know will not work–because they haven’t elsewhere? It’s too easy to say people are against change. I want to improve our ed system too. But these changes are wrong. They will enable those teachers who teach to the test to survive and flourish. The more creative ones, will leave. Why? Because the evidence is around us in what other parents across the nation have already experienced. And they are not happy. Why should we not learn from them? I am fervent advocate of improving education. China and elite private schools all moving away from these tests. Why?

  26. POSTED BY johnqp  |  October 17, 2013 @ 12:09 am

    Well said Mtclmom, well said.

    …And sometimes “Redundant checks” are just that : Redundant.

  27. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 17, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    “moving away from these tests”

    To what tests are you referring? The four tests a year under discussion represent a midterm and a final in each semester. Most classes already have more than this. Are other districts eliminating midterm and final exams in all their classes?

    …Andrew

  28. POSTED BY meccamagic  |  October 17, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

    Parents cannot be a part of the conversation, if they are scripted out of the conversation. Dr. McCormack says the quarterly assessments are the same as unit tests, midterm, and final. Information has NOT been made available to Parents/Families re: preparation, packets, or even the dates of the assessments, as would happen with Unit Tests. Assessments may or may not be graded. The script comes from Central Services to staff not to talk to Parents/Families about the quarterly assessments. Parents/Families were not informed about the early Pre-Assessments, or in many cases, informed of what these assessments reveal about their child. There are many bits of data being collected by the district on our children; to be used for teacher evaluations, to place students in pull out classes, to group/track students, and to claim failing schools. Parents/Families have access in every school to data that is being collected, and need to contact the Principal, so they will know what information is in their child’s record, and how it will be used.
    This top down community management, exemplified by the “listening tour”, is not communication,
    because there is much that is not being talked about, i.e., lack of state required principal Evaluations,
    lack of budgetary accountability, the elimination of the achievement gap “safety net” by the BOE, and more. Go to the listening tour, but demand answers, not just politeness.

  29. POSTED BY marcella  |  October 17, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

    @Andrew
    “Assuming we’re speaking of difference instances of the same class: they should be common. If they are not, that’s a problem that requires correction.” They are not common and the problem is not being addressed properly. The problem should be fixed first but the fact that you think that classrooms should ever be common shows your lack of experience with a classroom of kids. A teachers class is never common even when compared to class she has had in the past.

    “yet I’ve also seen kids fall through the cracks where formal assessments were not applied.” Yes formal assessments not common ones.

    “if only to have an extra set of eyes watching Just In Case” There were 34 (now down to 29)set of eyes in my son’s Algebra II. In a perfect world they go home and share with parents, who in turn follow up on any concerns that may arise. In a not so perfect world they might not be sharing because their parents are too busy or caught with something else to stay on top of their education but a good administrator handles that. In a crappy world where certain people are set up to fail they, (in the words of a friend who is a long time Montclair resident)”start a war on teachers and a subsequent reliance on private corporations to educate its children. This is shameful and ultimately a loser’s game, particularly if the private sector doesn’t deem your neighborhood, your city, your “demographic” profitable enough to invest in much needed resources. If that’s your kid, well, hey, somebody’s got to carry the bags and sweep the floors. Don’t get me wrong. An honest day’s work is a noble endeavor and besides, those fries aren’t going to salt themselves.”

    If you don’t see what’s going on your either asleep or one of those on top that don’t want to make it stop.

  30. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 18, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    “The script comes from Central Services to staff not to talk to Parents/Families about the quarterly assessments. ”

    This sounds like more misinformation; who is saying this?

    At meeting after meeting, questions are asked and answered about the assessments. Nobody is staying silent. Unfortunately, the questions asked are often the same ones over and over, as people are continuously fed untruths like “these are additional tests”. They are not.

    However, every so often something new – at least to me – arises. At a recent meeting at Glenfield, for example, a parent asked about the grading of these tests. Apparently, grading is a local affair controlled by the school and the teacher. This way, if a given topic has not yet been covered, questions on that topic won’t count against the students.

    The questions/answers do feed up to Central Office, though. If a lot of classes are having trouble finishing some particular topic, this can be used to tweak the presumed pacing of the class (and therefore future assessments in that class). This is one of the many advantages of using materials developed by our own teachers, BTW.

    “Parents cannot be a part of the conversation”

    Parents are a part of the conversation, but far too few. We must keep encouraging more involvement. This is, after all, one of the items in the strategic plan.

    “but demand answers, not just politeness.”

    I agree that we should be asking the questions that we have. This may be the only way for parents to counter the steady stream of misinformation floating about, including in these blogs. However, people will find that it is unnecessary to disrupt meetings to get questions answered. In fact, disrupting meetings has served to prevent parents from asking questions or raising concerns recently. That doesn’t serve the community.

    …Andrew

  31. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 18, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    “A teachers class is never common even when compared to class she has had in the past.”

    Yet all the sections of a given class must prepare students equally. Do you disagree with that from all your vast educational experience? Or do you feel it okay for some to be more well prepared than others?

    …Andrew

  32. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  October 18, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    agideon, most definitely disagree with “sections of a given class must prepare students equally.” That is neither teaching or learning. Even in the same class students will be prepared and learn differently. A good teacher knows this. It is not a question of being more or less prepared (prepared for what?). It is a question of being differently prepared and appropriately prepared.

    I would have thought that as the great moose hunter of Montclair, you would have valued diversity. Or is that only in pixel content?

    It is a teacher that teaches – a curriculum and a test need to be developed in function of the teaching. It will be a two-way street, but it is not equal. The teacher needs to lead the learning, not the curriculum or the testing. You cannot teach children from a Central Office.

  33. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 18, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    “It is not a question of being more or less prepared (prepared for what?). It is a question of being differently prepared and appropriately prepared.”

    Well, I admit to being somewhat floored by this. I’ve heard with some frequency, including at a meeting at Glenfield just this past week, complaints from parents that their kids have not been adequately prepared for some given class (math is often cited) by the previous year’s class. This puts those students at a disadvantage when compared to others in the class that “lucked out” by being more fully prepared during the previous year.

    That’s okay with you?

    …Andrew

  34. POSTED BY idratherbeat63  |  October 18, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    agideon, I’ll buy that. I just won’t buy the top-down, the Central Office micro-management, the silencing, the firings, the disrespect for the budget, providing merit pay and promotions without evaluations, the common core and the testing, the placing of police officers in the school (and using them to educate as well as spy on children) as appropriate remedies, and that is what is being discussed, btw.

    Anyone can use “data” to manufacture just about anything. Did you really expect the new School Superintendent (particularly this one) to “discover” that there was no achievement gap? What do you think best serves her purposes?

    The parents have a legitimate concern. You and your running mate don’t propose an adequate or even appropriate solution. In fact, you are making matters worse for such parents and their children.

  35. POSTED BY agideon  |  October 18, 2013 @ 11:25 am

    “agideon, I’ll buy that. ”

    I don’t know what that means. You are okay with different sections of the same class preparing some kids, but not others, for the next year’s classes? Or you “buy” that this is a problem to be resolved?

    “The parents have a legitimate concern.”

    A lot of people in the district have a lot of concerns that are perfectly legitimate. That is another point on which we agree. If we can stop the nonsense about “broadie bad” or “the superintendent is replacing teaching with testing” or “the strategic plan has nothing but testing” or “the district is trying to test away the achievement gap” or any of the other silliness, maybe we could all – including the superintendent – work toward addressing those issues.

    One of the concerns, for example, has been the aforementioned variation in preparation for the next year. The district is doing some things to solve this. One is changing existing testing (midterms or finals, for example) to be common across the district, so as to have preparation become common across the district. Another has been an organizational change in CO so that a single individual/team is responsible for a given subject across all grades.

    These are just two of the recent changes, but they are aimed at very specific – and legitimate – concerns that parents had raised. That speaks to a responsive administration. This is a Good Thing.

    …Andrew

  36. POSTED BY meccamagic  |  October 18, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

    I am not misinformed.
    I am not impressed with top-down management because I am supposed to be. The elimination of subject matter leaders and Dept. Chairs at each school, moving these responsibilities to CO under the auspices of DOI/Superintendent, students being pulled out of classes during instruction time without parent notification, based on the pre-assessments that were given without parent notification, let’s me know that Parents/Families are being managed in terms of what we receive. Yes, I want more Parents to come out and demand answers to the Superintendent’s lack of proper credentials when she was interviewed, no principal Evaluations given per state regulation, K-5 World Language, elimination of the achievement gap safety net by BOE, etc. Montclair is on state/national sites, because Parents are pushing back and demanding answers.
    We will not be polite; We will not be quiet; We are not sheeple

  37. POSTED BY jdmaccb  |  October 18, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

    Brother Gideon:

    I have been involved in education now for over twenty years; I have learned a thing or two about people along the way.

    You either work for the Montclair BOE or you are definitely auditioning for a job. If it’s an audition, then (IMHO), you are trying too hard.

    Just a thought…

    Judah MaccB

  38. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 19, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    I don’t understand why two tests of 2+ hours each, with inadequate review and no follow-up are preferable to four tests of 1 hour (actually less – they are held in the normal class time) and give students the chance to see what they got wrong.

    This seems like a reasonable point to me, and makes me wonder why all the sturm und drang about testing kinds into oblivion?

    Can you provide me with an example of where these changes (and there are numerous examples across the country) have worked? That would be very helpful.

    This is a reasonable question and deserves an answer. Is there evidence?

  39. POSTED BY heisenberg  |  October 19, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

    Helen makes a good point. There are fewer “hall-walkers”, better discipline and there is better management and control. But there is an also an atmosphere of distrust, low teacher morale, little or no appreciation and recognition of quality teaching and an over-emphasis on getting rid of bad teaching than promoting good teaching. Communication may be better to parents and students, but, tellingly, almost never to the faculty or staff. There is a false dichotomy between management, control and accountability versus a strong sense of purpose, a community with a shared vision and purpose and mutual respect and trust. We can have both and we should demand we have both.

  40. POSTED BY walleroo  |  October 19, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

    We can have both and we should demand we have both.

    No uncertainty on that score, heisenberg, your principle nothwithstanding.

Leave a Reply

Baristanet Comment Policy:

Baristanet has specific guidelines for commenting. To avoid having your comment deleted -- or your commenting privileges revoked -- read this before you comment. Violators will be banned from commenting.

Report a comment that violates the guidelines to comments@baristanet.com. For trouble with registration or commenting, write to comments@baristanet.com.

Commenters on Baristanet.com are responsible for all legal consequences arising from their comments, including libel, infringement of copyright or actions that threaten a third party. By submitting a comment, you agree to indemnify Baristanet LLC, its partners and employees from any legal action arising from your comments.

In order to comment on the new system, you need to register a new Baristanet account. To get your own avatar next to your comments, sign up at Gravatar.com

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow, Friend, Subscribe