Saturday, June 15, 2013
In January, a new system was begun. English teachers traveled to grading centers throughout the city, and graded tests of kids that didn't go to their schools. This was an improvement, because it was terrible that teachers who'd spent the entire year with kids, who knew the kids, who read their writing each and every day, were set to evaluate their writing. Better they be assessed by total strangers, decreed Reformy John King, and so it was. Unless, of course, the kids went to Montessori schools, like Reformy John's kids.
This month, a new and improved system was rolled out. Rather than have English teachers grade tests during school time, Mayor Bloomberg's brilliant DOE determined it would be better to pay them to do it after school. After all, Mayor Mike had saved billions by denying teachers the raise all other city employees got between 2008-2010, so why not spread a little of it around? And why not pay someone to scan every single exam so they could be viewed on computer screens?
But that wasn't the only innovation Mayor Mike decided upon. Clearly, some teachers would opt not to do extra work, even for money, as they had families, other jobs, other obligations, or whatever. For example, in my department, I sat with six other teachers, and only one of us had taken the job of marking the Regents exam evenings (and it wasn't me). How, then, would Mayor Mike get enough teachers to do this?
The answer, of course, was simple. When you lower your standards, you can always find enough people. Mayor Mike decided that the tests didn't have to be graded by high school English teachers. In fact, they didn't have to be graded by high school teachers, or English teachers. That increased the pool of available candidates.
Thus, my colleague was surprised when, on two occasions, the trainer asked "Who has never graded the English Regents exam?" and half of the people in the room raised their hands. In fact, the trainer was not a high school English person either, and stated, "We can all agree the theme of this piece is aging." In fact, a subject alone is not acceptable as a theme for the English Regents. A theme must actually state something about the subject, i.e., "Aging is difficult," or "Aging is better than the alternative." I haven't read the test, so I have no idea what the theme is. But the facilitator did not understand the task, and that's outrageous.
This is a typical reformy "improvement." It doesn't make anything better, it has no validity whatsoever, but we must do it, and we must do it now, because our children's future is at stake. That's why we need to have a junior high school math teacher grade the English Regents exam.
If the grades are too high, or too low, or utterly inaccurate in whatever way, it's an improvement, because it's more reformy than it used to be. That's the only thing that matters.
Keep it going, New York!