18 August 2009

What's the Difference?

State test results were released this week. They weren't quite as cringeworthy as I'd anticipated, but I can't say that they were cause for celebration, either. I do take a broader perspective on them now, especially having been so heavily involved with some of the scoring. However, I can't help but take a closer look at schools and districts I know more intimately.

Here is the overall performance of the school I taught at in 07 - 08:

The "bump" in the year I was there represents a 12-point gain in the scores (anything >5 points is significant). This year, the scores dropped 6 points (the state overall drop was only 1%).

Sadly, the more interesting tale is here:

I think about those classes I had in 07-08---the ones full of "untouchables" that other teachers deemed unworthy because the kids didn't want to take AP courses. The classes full of students of colour. Performance by black students went from 14% in '06-'07 to 44% last year...to 20% this year. Hispanic gains doubled last year and are now back to previous levels. White performance has more or less held steady over the years. That 12-point overall gain in '08 was on the backs of my kiddos.

Thinking about this very real possibility makes me both happy and sick. On one hand, it means that the mastery-based learning environment made a very real difference for all students. But looking at this year's scores means that there were an awful lot of students from diverse backgrounds who were served poorly. And knowing the environment and leadership in that school, no one is going to ask what the difference is.


Roger Sweeny said...

Perhaps you do more good as a teacher than you do as a bureaucrat.

The Science Goddess said...

After my experiences this past year, I am inclined to agree with you.

Roger Sweeny said...

All the while I was writing intemperate comments disagreeing with you, I was thinking I would love if you were my kids' science teacher.

The Science Goddess said...

I'm sure I would have an awesome time with your kids!

Who knows---maybe we'll get a chance to work together somewhere down the road.