Monday, February 04, 2013

On the Growth Model

Value-added gets a pretty bad rap, being junk science proven valid by absolutely no one. Therefore, when UFT leadership talks about the evaluation system, they call it a growth model. It's simple, they say. Wherever your students happen to be, be they slow, fast, needy, or perfect, you need only get them a little further. Sounds simple, doesn't it? We can all show some progress, somehow, with our students.

Yet here's what no one says. Who designs these tests? What sort of pre-test will there be before a Regents exam? What end-term exam will be given if there is no Regents exam? Who will decide what goes on it?

It won't be you, of course. You cannot even be trusted to grade the exams, let alone design them. And of course you have no idea what your students need to know, or there would be no need for Regents exams in the first place. As an ESL teacher, I can't help but notice that NY State does not differentiate between kids who speak English and kids who don't. The state cannot be bothered to learn step one about language acquisition. It makes ELLs waste an incredible amount of time learning to pass a test that will largely be of no benefit, causing many kids to need remedial courses in college--courses I could certainly offer in high school.

Here's the other part of this--whatever the test is, you'd better believe every teacher in the city will teach to it. You will have no choice, as your job will depend upon it. If you have the very bad luck of having kids who score poorly one year, you will teach to it even more, as your job will be on the line the next. This will take time away from what you think kids need. Of course, in this system, what you think kids need is of no importance whatsoever.

Unless I see more and much more specific material about how this model will be used, on behalf of my students and my brother and sister teachers, I must categorically oppose it. Frankly, I don't see how anyone could come to any other conclusion. Blanche DuBois may trust in the kindness of strangers, but I most certainly do not.
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