Wednesday, May 27, 2015

From NYSED With Love

I just noticed this, over at Pissed Off's blog. This appears to be one of the stupidest policies imaginable. You can see the page over at her site, but I'm going to type out the NY State reg, dated April 2015

If a student misses class time, he or she must be provided opportunities to make up the classwork, assignments, assessments, and other learning experiences.

Note it does not say, "if the student misses class time for a good reason. So let's say little Johny is out on the corner, smoking cigarettes or who knows what else, and strolls leisurely into your class with two minutes remaining. You have to arrange for him to make up the test you just gave everyone else. Personally, if they're gonna force me to write a makeup test for kids who cut, anyone who takes it will rue the day they missed the first one. It boggles the imagination that NYSED wants to actually teach children there are no consequences whatsoever for their bad decisions. That's not what I teach my kid.

Students are not required to make up the exact amount of instructional time due to absence.

You see, you idiots? You went to class every single day, and I only showed up twice. So I got this EZ Learn program and got my smart girlfriend to answer the questions. Now I have the same grade as you.

Students who master the course content and satisfactorily meet the expectations outlined in the syllabus must receive credit for the course; they should not be denied credit based on lack of seat time alone. 

Here's the thing, though. If you aren't in my class, you cannot possibly have done the work. I'm a language teacher. My grade is 50% test scores, 25% homework, and 25% participation. If you are never in class, you get a zero for participation. Homework is also an issue. I sometimes give handouts from workbooks. I know a lot of kids copy, and I can't spend all my time running around finding out who. However, kids who copy homework regualarly simply cannot pass tests. They also can't do classwork.

Maybe it makes them feel better to get easy credit for homework. But I change up the homework, giving open writing assignments, and the kids who copy learn quickly that I notice when entire paragraphs are the same.

There is something fundamentally lacking in NYSED. We are not just teaching math, English and science. We are role models. We wake up ridiculously early to come to work, and we put up with all sorts of nonsense to keep doing this job that we love. We know that people who don't do diddly squat are not precisely on the road to success. We are not a bunch of computers doing test prep.

And we have standards, real ones, even if NYSED has the audacity to inflict such nonsense on us. Make me write a syllabus and I'll make it quite clear that no one who cuts 200 times is going to pass my class under any circumstance.

I'm pretty sure my career would be less than stellar if I were absent 200 times a year. But by NYSED standards, if I showed up and taught the entire course in one day, everything would be fine.

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