Monday, January 7, 2008

Rapidly losing confidence in my "superiors"

Today, one of my administrators said the words," Right now, our only goal is to get the scores up on our English and Math state test scores."

After my head stopped spinning and the nausea subsided, I pondered the futility of saying anything. I decided that in our scheduled twenty minute meeting, it was pretty futile and let it go. Afterward, I sent each of the administrators a link to the Beating the Odds study done by the McREL foundation. Their finding that "beating the odds" schools saw the state test as the floor and not the ceiling keeps swimming through my head.

I used to think that Orlando was testing happy. Then I moved to teach in M*&$%n, and I found out what test happy really meant. It is doubly dangerous in the hands of people who are managers, but not educators (between them, our four administrators have a combined total of less than twenty years in the classroom). The decisions that teachers and students are subjected to on a daily basis are at best arbitrary, and at worst harmful for the goal of creating life-long learners and thinkers. What it boils down to is that our district has been "tagged" a certain number of years in a row, and if we don't show improvement in our "sub-groups" we could be up for state take-over. Our administrators' goals are simple: keep their jobs and pull up test scores, actual learning be damned. Sadly, the decisions they keep making don't seem much in line with doing anything that will improve test scores. And they definitely aren't doing anything that make kids eager, ready, and willing to learn. (Mandated three hours of homework at the middle school level, anyone? And then they wonder why our kids hate school so much...)

Anyway, on a more positive note, a friend I haven't spoken to in at least seven years tracked me down and emailed me today. We were roommates for two and a half years in our college days, and I'm really excited to be back in touch with her. We've been friends as long as my husband and I have; I met them both in sixth grade! It's these occasions that remind me of the wonder of the internet.

By the way, if anyone is looking for a decadent dessert, may I recommend the Caramel Apple Cake in Rachael Ray's November 2007 issue. Just make sure you cut yourself a really small piece...

(I'm actually thinking that you could halve the frosting recipe, double the apple recipe, and instead of frosting the whole cake just frost the sides and then top it with half of the apples (the other half goes between the layers). I've spent too much time reading Cooking Light to be totally comfortable with the abomination of butter we baked. Though it is mighty tasty, I must say!)

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