21 October 2005

Pop Quiz: What's Wrong with This Picture?

Image Credit Lost to the Sands of Time. I'm sorry.


As if yesterday's meeting wasn't enough, I had a teacher from one of the junior highs call me at work today. Could he come down and talk some more about one of the ideas? Uh, sure. This was not really a conversation that I could get particularly enthusiastic about, but I felt like I should at least hear him out.

This guy was so excited about the idea of developing pre- and post-assessments and then tying them to data tracking and remediation that he had already frothed at the mouth with his principal. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not against the idea of these sorts of benchmark assessments---I just think it's too danged early to mess with them.

We have three major things to roll out next fall: aligned scope and sequence, standards-based instructional materials, renovated science facilities. Shouldn't we let the horse even move out of the barn before we think about tying a loaded cart to it?

I tried to gently explain this to the teacher. I'm sure he thought that I would be caught up in his enthusiasm and run with it. What I wanted to do was ask him to chill out. Fear of bad scores is making him (and a few others) appear to be grasping at any straw like it's a lifesaver. When he finally unwound his spiel, he left.

I wanted to say, "It's about the instruction, Stupid." If you as a teacher are planning standards-based lessons with various assessments throughout a unit to gauge student progress, why on Earth would you need beginning and end of year assessments? Wouldn't you already have a good idea of what kids do and don't know?

Sigh.

I met with the Boss Lady later in the day. I told her about the meeting---and she was not happy with things. This is reaffirming for me. Maybe I'm not the only one that thinks it's a little nuts to go trotting off with the cart and leave the horse in the barn. And really, without her support for this sort of thing, it isn't going to happen.

Where do I go from here? I have to somehow be better at communicating the vision and plan for science in the district. This is hard when people don't read their e-mail (as I whined about yesterday) and we only have one district-wide science meeting each year. I'll have to go "door to door" with things, I guess and spend more individual time with teachers.

I do have 30 minutes of time allotted on Tuesday morning in order to talk to admins. I hope to lay out things a bit for them. Maybe they can help me knock a few heads.

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