Monday, December 12, 2005

Time Well Spent?

Teachers have written about it before and will write about it again. Teacher Development Days. I can't promise I won't complain in this post, so if you are one of those people who don't like to hear teachers vent, please feel free to skip this post.
Our Central Office (C.O.) required all 9th and 10th grade teachers to administer a writing assessment, the third one of the year in addition to the two reading assessments. The assessment served two purposes, data gathering and grading calibration. Our C.O. seems concerned that rater reliability may be off between teachers and across town to the other high schools.
The training's intent appeared to include instructing us on what an at standard paper looked like, as well as what an approaching standard, below standard, and above standard essay looked like. We did a little of that. But for about five hours, we scored assessments. Every assessment was scored just once. No look at rater reliability between schools or teachers. Simply a grading day for an assessment that I did not choose to give.
There are a few interesting points. One, I only have two periods of 9th grade English with a total of 65 students. I scored more than that because we were just given class packet after class packet. In fact, we weren't allowed to score our own class essays. Two, I still don't know if I score similar to any other teacher in my building or in my district. Only what overall percentage of each standard designation I scrored.
The most annoying aspect, yes, the condescending attitudes of C.O. personnell as they rang a bell every fifty minutes to signal our break time. Just prior to beginning, we were given a lecture on research that indicated it takes adults just 7 minutes to take care of basic human needs, bathroom, stretching, etc.; and that if the meeting has not re-convened in 10 minutes exactly, it will then turn into a 20 minute break. So, we would be keeping a very strict schedule in regard to our breaks.
Silly me, thinking that I taught high school when the truth is I am in high school! Research? Ask Dan Rather about research. I just want to teach.


At 11:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:06 PM , Blogger r said...

I feel your pain.

Our school used to put money into paying our English teachers to get together 4x a year to grade essays together.

To begin, each teacher would have pulled out one or two papers that were difficult to score. We would make copies, and every single teacher would score the sample papers. We'd then discuss our answers to make sure we were grading them the same way, and then begin scoring the rest of the essays.

Each essay was graded at least twice,and if there was a question as to whether it was a passing or non-passing paper a third teacher scored it.

Teachers other than English teachers were encouraged to participate, as were our principal and assistant principals. Everyone would bring food, and not only was it productive, it was fun.

Sadly, there's no time for that any more. We spend all our time making sure we are teaching to the test. The writing portion of the STAR test doesn't count for a school's AYP or API, so... we don't have time to focus on it.

Oh, the ethics.


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