"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This Should Surprise Exactly Nobody...

Click on the link below to see the "shocking" news about how the watered down student achievement assessment called the WKCE fails Wisconsin Students. I posted long ago on how the achievement "bookmarks" were originally placed by experts (teachers) for each grade, which indicated less than 50% of Wisconsin students would be considered proficient or advanced. In a monumental display of greed (to continue getting federal dollars) and stupidity, they lowered to bar to show a greater number of students at proficient and advanced levels of achievement. They still knew as little as before, they just scammed the numbers to make this level of "knowledge and concepts" look acceptable to the feds.

This is the kind of bald-faced hypocrisy that the vast majority of parents face on a daily basis with schools. A recent survey of students indicates over a third of them are under-challenged in grade level homework. Can you say mind-numbingly, idiotic worksheets? Criminey. This following exchange actually happened to me and was one of the many reasons I ran for school board."

Me to 4th grade teacher: "Challenge my kid. I see no homework. Ever."
Teacher: "Your student makes extraordinarily good use of the time given to complete homework in class."
Me: "This child is bored and you are losing their enthusiasm."
Teacher: "Maybe you could supplement at home. Your child has completed all supplemental materials I have for math." (this was six weeks before the end of the school year).
Me: "Okayyyyy, but we need to enroll them in the accelerated math program next year."
a month later.
Me: "Did you enroll my kid in the accelerated math as we had discussed?"
Teacher: Blank look.
Me: "You know, after you ran out of additional materials, we discussed this?"
Teacher: "Uh, no, we prioritized the proven language arts acceleration over challenging in both math and reading."
Me: "You know, students are perfectly capable of being bright at both subjects. Put my kid in the accelerated math track. Now."

This experience is one reason I am cynical every time a teacher blames inept parents for poor student achievement. If you are so blinking resistant to implementing action plans with those of us who are actively engaged and who do expect our kids to do their best, how must you behave with parents who are less motivated for various reasons (intimidated by the system, have a terrible outlook on education, etc)? I know there are people out there that make me shake my head and say, "That's the reason people should have to be licensed to become a parent." But really. There is no excuse for losing track of my kid's needs in such an egregious fashion. I am not paranoid and do not believe this is hatred for me or my kid. If this happens to actively interested parents, one is forced to conclude that it's happening to everybody.You can't have it both ways. You can't claim clueless and unmotivated parents cause systemic failures on the one hand and on the other hand revile those of us who give a flying fig as "helicopter parents." Set my engine to idle, Scotty.

Wisconsin faces the Herculean task of establishing a triangle of achievement starting with High Expectation, following through with a Challenging Workload and measuring progress with Realistic Assessments. Wisconsin has failed in both the High Expectation and Realistic Assessment legs of the triangle. Students themselves are saying that teachers are failing daily to provide them with the Challenging Workload part of the triangle. This 3 legged stool has NO leg to stand on.What the WKCE developers knew over a decade ago and chose to bury in obscurity has been revealed. The 82% of Wisconsin students scoring proficient or advanced in reading on the WKCE is really only 36% achievement using the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) Reading Scale and the 78% of Wisconsin students scoring proficient or advanced in math on the WKCE is really only 48% on the NAEP Math Scale. Individual district recalibrations won't be available until the fall. Those results likely depend on what sections of the WKCE were done well and which ones were done poorly as to how the data translates. There's not some sliding scale somewhere that says "This percent on the WKCE always equals this achievement on the NAEP exam."

This jarring reboot into reality has been expected all along by those of us who pay attention to the lax standards foisted upon us by public schools. If this does not wake up the Wisconsin education community, I don't know what will. Time for them to stop whining and step up. Quit blaming disinterested parents, bratty students and pervasive social networking for failure to produce acceptable student achievement. All of these issues admittedly make teaching more of a challenge. If you went into your career expecting to have students who are motivated at all times, you need to start inspiring them and devise strategies that overcome or utilize the reality in which these kids live. That's where excellent teachers step in. Outstanding educators inspire awe in my heart and pull every last ounce of achievement from kids. I want every kid to have an outstanding teacher for every class. One shouldn't have to exclaim in rare reverie, "Oh, wow, Mrs. Peabody was so fabulous. You were really lucky to get her for 3rd grade."  Every. Single. Educator. Needs. To. Be. Outstanding. You are the difference. If you can't perform to that level every year, get the heck out of Dodge. Please. Do everybody, including yourself, a favor. Find your own nirvana. That is all.


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