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Old 06-18-2011, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Virginia
7,893 posts, read 12,148,561 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJBest View Post
I don't have an answer to your question. I don't work in education. I just know that the current educational system sucks. And I don't blame the teachers individually, but the entire system. I have faith in positive change and agree with a performance-based system.

It can't get any worse, so I'm willing to wait the 5 to 10 years to see how things pan out. We're not talking about an eternity here. It's a very short period of time.
I teach at a large elementary K-6 school where we typically achieve 95-100% passing rates on state standardized tests. For example, in third grade, 3 students out of 5 homerooms (approximately 115 students) did not pass the math. 99% passed history (76% of those with advanced scores). Almost all of my students come from 2 parent households. There are many stay-at-home moms and the occasional stay-at-home dad. It is unusual for a parent not to attend Back to School Night. They all attend conferences during the school hours in Nov. Out of 800 students, 6% are on free or reduced lunches. Not one of my students is lacking computer access at home. The parents are very involved and knowledgeable when it comes the their kids' schooling. My students come to school ready to learn. Many bring a lot of background knowledge with them. Many have been to more places in the world than I could ever hope to visit. I think I do a very good job teaching, but I would be kidding both you and myself if I said it was all because of my performance. Place me in a school with a different population and my students' scores may not be as high. Do I deserve merit pay because of my current students' high scores? If so, why would I ever consider teaching somewhere else where I might have to put my neck on the line for students who have to face more challenges outside of the classroom that could very well have a negative effect on their performance within the classroom?
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,713,317 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark of the Moon View Post
I don't disagree. I think the entire concept of merit pay is flawed.

But it irks me when people point the finger at SPED kids and blame them for bringing down test scores for a class, when regular ed kids also fail those exams.

I taught a pre-algebra class last semester (yes, pre-algebra in HIGH SCHOOL), and four of the students failed. Two were ESOL, one was a kid who was exited from SPED back in 2005 (so is now considered completely regular ed), and the fourth was a regular ed Junior(!). One other student, a 16-year-old freshman (!!!) dropped out of school (failing all his classes) about a week before the end of the year

So -- four failures, and none of them SPED.

The two SPED kids in the class? Both passed with flying colors.
Unfortunately SPED kids who are in classes that are over their heads do bring down test scores. IMO, their scores should be deleted if they are SPED as should the scores of any student in the class who did not pass the exit exam for the prerequisite classes (first we need exit exams).

It is VERY difficult for me to teach chemistry to a student who passed algebra with a D. The math in chemistry trips students up all the time. They drop off the cliff when we hit stoichiometry then sink lower when we get to calorimetry and Hess's law and reaction rates separate the A's from the B's on the final.

Next year, I will have two classes in which most of my students will be special ed. Do you, seriously, think I should be judged on how many of them pass the state exams??? I have a hard enough time getting regular ed kids at the low end through chemistry. How am I supposed to do it with the mathematically impaired or kids who can't read??? The class gets, seriously, dummied down just to get these kids through the material but I make no promises as to how they will fare on the state exams. I wouldn't get through 1/4th of the material if I held them to the same standard I do my other classes.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:47 PM
 
11,151 posts, read 13,797,303 times
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SPED ≠ stupid and regular ed ≠ smart.

And that's all I have to say.
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,713,317 times
Reputation: 14499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark of the Moon View Post


SPED ≠ stupid and regular ed ≠ smart.

And that's all I have to say.
I have yet to teach a class where the SPED kids increase the curve. Statistically speaking, SPED kids are less likely to have the prerequisite skills needed to pass my class which explains why the most common accomodation I'm required to do is write a special, shortened multiple choice version of the exam which is read to them by someone holding the answer key. Unfortunately, passing doesn't mean actually learning the material.

Just wanted to add that I have no issues with SPED kids being in my class (as long as I get a para). I also have no issue with passing them based on a simpler version of the test. I just don't want to be held accountable for how they do on the state tests when I don't control the standard they are held to or their ability when they come into my room. Heck, I don't want to be held accountable for about the bottom 20% of my students (the ones who don't read the material, don't do their homework, have excessive absences, don't study, don't turn in their work, etc, etc, etc...). If you want to judge me, judge me on the kids who enter my class with the prerequisite material mastered.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 06-18-2011 at 07:14 PM..
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:11 PM
 
11,151 posts, read 13,797,303 times
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I know I promised, but .....

Students in special education fall all along the ability spectrum, just like regular ed kids do. The majority of them simply have learning differences, which means that to adequately access the curriculum, they need accommodations.

Our school does not do "modifications," only accommodations, as modifying assessments means that students don't meet graduation requirements.

Last year, I co-taught two Honors World History II classes -- one was 1/3rd SPED kids, and the other one was close to 50%.

Every single student, in both classes, passed the end-of-course exam on the first try, and I'm going to give the credit for that to the lead teacher.

Again, SPED ≠ stupid and regular ed ≠ smart.
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:17 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,713,317 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark of the Moon View Post
I know I promised, but .....

Students in special education fall all along the ability spectrum, just like regular ed kids do. The majority of them simply have learning differences, which means that to adequately access the curriculum, they need accommodations.

Our school does not do "modifications," only accommodations, as modifying assessments means that students don't meet graduation requirements.

Last year, I co-taught two Honors World History II classes -- one was 1/3rd SPED kids, and the other one was close to 50%.

Every single student, in both classes, passed the end-of-course exam on the first try, and I'm going to give the credit for that to the lead teacher.

Again, SPED ≠ stupid and regular ed ≠ smart.
Then why is the most common accomodation I'm asked to make a special exam with easier questions? While there are smart special ed kids, more often than not, at least in my classes, SPED kids are held to lower standards to pass.

I have yet to teach a class where SPED kids improved the curve. I'd love to teach one.

I, also, don't see SPED kids in my college prep chemistry classes. They seem to get placed in the lower level chemistry course.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 06-18-2011 at 07:26 PM..
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Old 06-18-2011, 08:24 PM
 
11,151 posts, read 13,797,303 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
Then why is the most common accomodation I'm asked to make a special exam with easier questions?
That's not an accommodation, that's a modification. My state doesn't allow those for students earning a regular high school diploma, but it looks as though Michigan does. (You're in Michigan, right?)

However, there's a whole process involved with modifying curriculum, summarized here.


Quote:
MMC content may only be modified if the PC team determines that the studentís disability is the reason the student is not able to access or demonstrate proficiency in the content.
Not lack of ability -- disability. So if you have IEP students who simply aren't academically prepared for your class, modifying exams is NOT appropriate.

My $0.02? Your school is playing fast and loose with state guidelines.
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Old 06-18-2011, 08:32 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,713,317 times
Reputation: 14499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark of the Moon View Post
That's not an accommodation, that's a modification. My state doesn't allow those for students earning a regular high school diploma, but it looks as though Michigan does. (You're in Michigan, right?)

However, there's a whole process involved with modifying curriculum, summarized here.




Not lack of ability -- disability. So if you have IEP students who simply aren't academically prepared for your class, modifying exams is NOT appropriate.

My $0.02? Your school is playing fast and loose with state guidelines.
Yes, I'm in Michigan. My experience is that the IEP kids aren't prepared for my class, hence the modifications which are in the IEP. I just do what I'm told. Modified exams are the #1 modification I make. Actually the only one I make. I've had kids who had to have exams read to them but they tend to not do well in my class. Math is a huge obstacle for the SPED kids which is why they get placed in the lower level chemistry class.

I do have to admit that the SPED kids will work for me. I wish my regular ed kids would put in that kind of effort. They also tend to listen and behave better than the bottom of the regular ed class.
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:01 PM
 
18,856 posts, read 30,463,066 times
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I agree, it is not just SPED students, as I said above, I once had a class with kids from 17 different countries in my class. Bosnian, Sudan refugees, kids from Mexico, Central America, South America, China...so it was not just "Spanish-English" issue. Testing kids that don't read English, or even understand the content of the tests. Those tests are culturally biased, how many kids from Sudan know what a rotating sprinkler head is? Even if the test is read to the student in their own language.

Merit pay?

How did I know the kids made progress in my class? By the end of the year, they all spoke basic English, socialized with each other, discussed current news events...but I will admit that there was incremental progress for most students in written grammar, spelling, math performance was better, and some increase in reading comprehension...but for many of those kids it was their first year in a US school, some of the kids even came at 2nd semester, how do those kids get measured in terms of progress? I also had several kids, who were from New Orleans, they came in November, after living in a shelter since September. 3 states in three months...they were pretty stressed. School work and testing was last on their parents list of helping their kids with...

It was not like teaching at the school my Mom worked at, in an affluent area...
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