18 October 2005

Physics Defying Poop

Perhaps you've heard that "S--t rolls downhill"? Not on my watch, it doesn't.

I received an interesting call this morning. It appears that a high school in my district has invited the science departments of its "feeder" schools over on Thursday afternoon for a little meeting. Along with the invitation, an enormous packet was provided. The idea was to have the schools inventory their topic coverage (using a rubric) and bring it to the meeting.

On the surface, all of this seems rather benign. But there are several things that bother me here. I wasn't asked about any of this until today---even though the meeting has been planned for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the school that is initiating the meeting is the one school that thinks that they have all their poop in a pile (and that it doesn't stink). This meeting can quite easily turn into a "bash the junior high" sort of event. In addition to this, the whole packet is pretty much moot. We did this work as a district last spring. If teachers at this other school read their e-mail, they would know all of this (as well as the "fixes" to problems that are on the horizon).

It is possible that the staff at the high school wants to know where the gaps in coverage have been so that they can do some "backfill." The problem with this thinking is that content (physics, chemistry, biology) is only 40% of the assessment. Most of it is process. Just talking content with kids isn't going to cut it.

So, I made copies of the test map...again...to show teachers on Thursday where the emphasis of the assessment (and therefore our instruction) is. I also pulled huge amounts of data. Because the more important question is which kids aren't succeeding...not what is or isn't being taught in terms of content. I plan to go armed with several items in order to diffuse any poo-flinging on Thursday. I am not letting anyone pick on those junior high teachers.

I know that scores aren't as pretty as we all would like. I know that we would all like to make that change. But the "blame game" isn't going to help get us there.

Ah, the joys of Goddess-dom. And just wait until I tell you how the word "Earth" caused me to lose several hours of valuable time.

Update: See the results of the meeting here. And you can read about the meeting after the meeting here.

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