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Old 11-03-2018, 06:25 AM
 
Location: Northern Appalachia
4,733 posts, read 5,879,475 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnff View Post
Most of the folks I know around here don't blame about the teacher, but about the testing focus of the system that forces a teach to the test philosophy. It really all about the ratings. Schools, and therefore management are rated by the scores. So they put pressure on the teacher to raise the scores. So the teachers spend all semester focusing only on what will be tested and what's not tested isn't taught.
I realize every state is different but how does a teacher determine, "what will be tested?" Let's take elementary math, unless you have a copy of the test, what wouldn't you teach?

Don't you have to teach all basic math functions including fractions and decimals? Most elementary math programs also touch on basic geometry such as different shapes, angles, lines, etc., and elementary pre-algebra.Again unless you have a copy of the test, I don't know how you could avoid teaching any aspect of elementary math.
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:15 AM
 
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i agree with the Original Poster of this seven year old thread. Top School District rankings are a perfect indicator of the Socio-Economic conditions of the District but don't really define the quality of education.

We moved into our current home over 35 years ago. At the time the District was mediocre rated but it offered far more diversity than the top rated districts. Ethnicity, Income, Parental Careers, etc., all had wide variation and that is what we sought, rather than the homogeneity of the surrounding 'white bread' districts that everyone raved about.

The District is now considered less than mediocre but our sons' graduating classes have produced multiple Doctors, Lawyers, PhD's, and other examples of what are considered hallmarks of a great school. Additionally, the district has produced professional musicians, professional sports players, and even an Olympic Athlete. Note; the District has about 4,000 students.

Yes there are lots of 'Failure To Launch' examples too, but the key to individual success is NOT the perceived quality of the School District.
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Old 11-03-2018, 08:20 AM
 
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Well, you know, teachers kind of did just that for decades until the big testing companies come along. As I explained earlier, the test and curriculum are all coordinated. You don't have to know the exact questions because you know the topics that will and won't be tested. If a topic won't be tested, then that topic isn't taught or taught minimally to give more time to those topics on the test. You're trying to apply a too simplistic logic to the problem. It isn't a question of which math function isn't taught. That depends on the grade. Rather it's a question of "if, topic X, let's say geography, isn't tested, then geography is minimized in favor of what is tested. The net result is, for example, higher scores in math at the expense of other subjects.

Then, standardized testing follows some methods of how the questions are constructed. There are games and tricks that can be taught to improve overall scores without improving knowledge. My kid's schools spent a significant amount of time on test taking technique and practice tests at the expense of subject matter time.
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:16 PM
 
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When my kids were in grade school, the schools were basically using the program Everyday Math, though the principal wouldn't admit to it and just said it was a custom curriculum that was a "superior way" of teaching math. In reality, I think they were using the program to get the kids use to circling all numbers in a word problem, and then look at the answer choice bank and and start randomly applying functions until they came up with something that matched an answer choice. As a parent, it was really frustrating because I wanted my kids to know and use math without having to rely on having 4 possible correct answers to choose from. I ended up just having to teach my kids math myself. I also volunteered for a number of years at the library running math workshops that taught Singapore bar modeling to help other kids too.

When my son was in 7th grade and his math class was prepping for the 8th grade State math exam and my son had one practice problem that was "Which one of these is NOT a triangle?" My son was confused on how to approach that since there weren't any numbers to circle in the question. I don't remember the exact answers choices, but it played out along the lines of this. I told him to look at the answer choices and think about how you would draw out a triangle. He did that and came up with the answer B: 2,7,12. The next day he came home from school quite upset and frustrated because his teacher insisted that was the wrong answer and the correct answer was C: 12,12,2 and he could not at all understand her explanation when he asked why B was wrong. I sent her an email and asked her to clarify for me the conservation she had with my son because I thought B was the correct answer, so there had to be a misunderstanding somewhere along the way.

Her explanation to me was that according to the answer key, B was the correct answer but the answer key was wrong. She applied Pythagorean Theorem to every single answer choice and it didn't work for any of them and right triangles are the only triangles that exist in the state's 8th grade math standards. However, an 8th grade student should be able to recognize that an isosceles triangle is not a right triangle, so the correct answer was C. I thanked her for her clarification, I really didn't know how else to respond and was thankful I didn't ask her in person or over the phone. The sad thing is that she was a much better math teacher than a number of the other teachers he's had and has been recognized a number of times for her outstanding math teaching by the school district. Pretty much all of the parents I know reteach math at home or hire it out, which is why I think there is a pretty stark contrast in the school district for math performance along SES lines.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:04 AM
 
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Quote:
He did that and came up with the answer B: 2,7,12. The next day he came home from school quite upset and frustrated because his teacher insisted that was the wrong answer and the correct answer was C: 12,12,2 and he could not at all understand her explanation when he asked why B was wrong.
I agree with the Teacher with these number combinations. With one leg of the triangle at length 12, there is no way to construct a triangle using two other segments with a combined length of only 9. I also realize it has been a few years since this occurred, and maybe the answer combinations were slightly different than in this post.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:21 AM
 
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I live in a low performing school district and both of my children are students in said school district. The area is racked with poverty and crime. Surrounding communities thumb their noses at us calling us all sorts of choice words based on race, religion and socioeconomic status.

Why would we stay here?

Because most of the teachers my kids have had truly care about the future of their students. I've also seen with my own eyes the level of education available to those students who want it. I think most of these rankings are weak and don't tell the real story of what occurs in these schools. Now, I do wish we could get more money for our kids and teachers so they could have access to better technology, new books, and even adding more teachers.

But we are involved parents, our kids know what we expect and we work with their teachers as a team. I think if you do that in most any school district, your child will succeed.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:23 AM
 
28,091 posts, read 19,748,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
There are going to be exceptions to every rule but the worst districts in our state have a 48% graduation rate, the best have 99-100%--which district is producing better students?? Yes, of those 48% some are going to go to Harvard, etc. but of the 52% that aren't going to graduate-many of them are going to end up in places like the state pen. THIS is why people care about education and being in a good district.

There are other factors too-like resale on your house. Buying a house in a bad school district will directly reflect on your homes appreciation and resale value. You will also experience higher rates of crime in areas where schools are poor. There is a direct correlation between lack of education, poverty level and crime.
But who is to blame for those graduation rates?

Is it the schools or is it the families and microsociety in which those students live? The entire community has a stake in preparing and encouraging education. If you live in one of these areas that views education as a luxury instead of a necessity, you are going to have kids and families who just don't care.
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:31 AM
 
28,091 posts, read 19,748,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarlaJane View Post
Frankly, I would be happy with any criteria that is a more substantial indication of intelligence and/or ability.

For example, the only thing that a standardized test indicates is how well a student can take a test. When was the last time your job consisted of passing a test (if only!)? And since when did a student attribute their success to the fact that his/her teacher had an MA and was certified? For most, having a teacher that cares is much more important than having a teacher that is certified. And nowhere in the criteria do I ever see a measure of teacher involvement.

It would just be nice to see some criteria that accounted for actual performance and/or results, or even a system that doesn't try to use criteria at all. Because, let's face it, there really isn't a way to guarantee that someone is getting a good education, no matter what the criteria says.
I am really loving your posts on this thread. You are articulating my thoughts so well!

Yes, yes, yes on teacher involvement. They never mention or care about that. Additionally, they never measure or think about non-measurable student achievements like demonstrating a true understanding of curriculum based on interviews or research based projects. They don't measure maturity, working well with others, being a leader in the classroom, etc.

As you said, these test scores merely reflect an ability to do well on a test. Who cares about that?
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:35 AM
 
28,091 posts, read 19,748,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toobusytoday View Post
StarlaJane and Golfgirl, You are both right about High Schools differentiating between what colleges that their graduates attend. I was recently on a HS committee and we found that within our own county High Schools reported that differently. Our HS does break it down into four year universities and two year colleges. A neighboring HS lumps them all together as the percent that will be attending college.

I'd like to say that I don't think that parents obsesses about schools as much they give it thoughtful consideration. When we moved to where we now live, we weren't looking for the absolute "best" school. As others have pointed out, that's a very subjective criteria. We wanted, as golfgirl puts it above, the best for our kids. That includes an atmosphere where college is the norm, and where students and teachers work together with parents as a team. To me, that meant a small school district. Scores on standardized tests were, for us, a starting point. Those tests are not hard and if the majority of students don't even test proficient, then I wouldn't consider that school district. I also did not want crowded classes or a district that was in financial problems. I would have liked ethnic and financial diversity, but here in PA that combination does not come with the other factors.

When one is moving, you realize quickly that you have to prioritize your values so what may seem an obsession with the "best" schools is really just placing school fit at the top of the priority list. That seems reasonable to me.
But even this has another side if you flip the coin over...

As I said in my first post, our district is low performing. I believe we rank somewhere around 492 out of approximately 500 districts in Pennsylvania. We also have a large amount of transient students, many of whom don't speak English when they first get here. So how well are they going to perform on these tests? I take the ranking we have with a huge grain of salt because of the reasons I mentioned in a previous post.
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Old 11-04-2018, 09:49 AM
 
5,791 posts, read 3,082,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MI-Roger View Post
I agree with the Teacher with these number combinations. With one leg of the triangle at length 12, there is no way to construct a triangle using two other segments with a combined length of only 9. I also realize it has been a few years since this occurred, and maybe the answer combinations were slightly different than in this post.
I think her real point isn't about the numbers but that students aren't taught to read, understand, and be able to solve the problem. Instead they are taught to look at the numbers given in the problem and see if they can make them fit one of the defined answers. They can't actually solve the problem if they aren't given the answers; they just know to pick one. Much like the "Chinese Boat Captain Math Problem" which was really a French experiment on how people answer problems, people are taught to manipulate numbers to get an "answer" even if that answer doesn't make any sense.

"If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats aboard, how old is the ship's captain?"
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