28 March 2008

WASLus scientificus

The science WASL will take place in about three weeks. After Spring Break, I've set aside a few days to do some targeted review with my kids. We'll look at some released items, along with good and bad student examples, scoring guides, and ideas for checking their work. I also break down the test so they know how many questions there are, how to answer them, and how many points they need to get to pass. Although my students don't need to pass the test to get a diploma, they can use good scores for free tuition at in-state universities and various scholarship opportunities. I want them to do well. I know that most of them can do it if they make the effort to apply themselves. I've been talking to kids about not closing doors. Maybe they're not sure about going to college right now, but who knows what they might want in a couple of years? If they make some good decisions now, they'll have lots more choices later---with or without college.

I was talking to the Bad Neighbour about this. He hasn't done any labs with students this year and doesn't teach any inquiry or application associated with science. The kids just answer questions out of the book (and the school wonders why science WASL scores lag). Anyway, he said that he wasn't going to bother do any prep with students because "they" are going to change the test in a few years.

I pointed out that even if the science WASL changes or goes away in the future, our current kids have to deal with the current version. Besides, at least some of them might qualify for support for college because of their scores.

"None of my students are going to college."

At this point, I was done with the conversation. What do you say to a teacher who has already ruled out any sort of opportunities for the kids sitting in his classroom---both in terms of teaching to the standards and preparing kids for life beyond high school? I'm sure that not all of them will go to college, but I'd bet that at least a few are thinking about it. After all, he apparently managed to earn a degree. The students probably could, too, if he cared enough to give them a chance.

As teachers, we might not like the standards. We might even disagree with the testing and how the results are used. But we owe it to our kids to do the right thing by them and help them learn what we're asked to teach. I really wish that those who are just showing up to pick up a paycheck and surf the internet while kids fill out another worksheet would get out of field and make room for other teachers who care about students.

3 comments:

Clix said...

What do you say to a teacher who has already ruled out any sort of opportunities for the kids sitting in his classroom---both in terms of teaching to the standards and preparing kids for life beyond high school?

What you say probably depends on how much s*t that teacher can create for you. ;)

Roger Sweeny said...

"None of my students are going to college."

That sounds so weird. In my ordinary high school in an ordinary suburb, ninety percent of the graduates attend a college in the fall after graduation.

Our problem is the opposite of your's. Many of them don't make it to the end of the first year. They didn't really have the tools or the motivation. They only went because it was expected of them.

The Science Goddess said...

We have many graduates who also don't end up earning a college degree---but I can't imagine automatically excluding them from the pool.