Wednesday, February 18, 2009

If teachers were athletes...

Breaking News: Mr. McNamar has admitted to altering student test scores between 2004-2007 while teaching in a Washington school. Here is the transcript of his press conference:

Mr. McNamar, had your actions not been revealed by the school newspaper, would you have ever come out on your own?

I'm just here to tell my story. You know, to focus on the putting this all behind me so that my colleagues don't have to answer questions for me.

Mr. McNamar, you've talked about the pressure of getting every student to be proficient as your reason for altering scores. You mentioned that when you came to Connecticut to teach, a state with a greater achievement gap, you stopped that practice. Can you explain to us why?

In Washington, I was young and naive. I was 27 or 28. I hadn't grown up yet as a teacher. After a painful transition from no responsibility as a bartender to major responsibility. I was young. But when I found out that I was hurting students by doing this, and that in Connecticut I could lose my credentials, I realized it was time to grow up. I've had my best year of teaching last year. Something like 78% of my students passed the exam which is more than any other teacher. I'm glad it's all in the past. I can focus on this year's exam.

Mr. McNamar, you said you altered scores for three years. What was the benefit from doing that; and when you stopped altering scores, did you notice any difference?

I can't be sure of any benefit. I do know that when you alter scores on tests, it's half mental and half tangible. I mean, if you read Sparknotes and not the book but say, I understand this book now, if you believe it, you probably do understand the book. So I felt more confident, but it's hard to say.

Mr. McNamar, when you altered scores, did you do it yourself or just tell the kids to change an answer?

I did it myself.

Mr. McNamar, since this came out a week ago, the public has called you a cheater. Do you consider this cheating?

Listen, I'm sorry for what I did. I'm here to focus on the future. I was stupid, you know. I guess when you are young and stupid, your are young and stupid. It's not my job to call something cheating or not. I'm just sorry.

Mr. McNamar, many of your current colleagues are present but some former colleagues like Stence have said some pretty serious thing about your credibility. Do you think you need to repair in any sense those relationships?

I don't know what Stence said.

He said that your credibility is seriously damaged and that nobody should vote you as Teacher of the Year. You've disgraced the profession...stuff like that.

Hey, Stence is allowed to think that way. I don't like that he feels that way. I mean, I understand how people feel that way. I get it. I can't control them. I'm going to stay focused on moving past this all.

Mr. McNamar, what's your relatives name and who got the correct answers from OSPI in Olympia?

I'm not going to give you his name. I'm here because I'm responsible for my actions. I told him what to do and he felt like he was being helpful to me and my students. His name doesn't matter.

You touched on the cheating view that some people have. What do you say to the parents who have to tell their students that you profited from this?

I'm sorry. I think this happened for a greater purpose. God put me in this place for a reason and my voice can be heard. I hope kids don't make the same mistakes. Joe Fort is here. His son was expelled from college for plagiarism. He's right over there. This is an opportunity to talk about the future. I've talked with Joe and the district to join up and send out anti-test altering messages to kids.

Just to be clear, did you know that answers you were getting from the OSPI were in fact the correct answers, and if so, did you consider the consequences?

I didn't think they were the exact answers at that time. Listen, I was young and stupid. He was able to walk in and get them, pretty basic. We didn't use our Curriculum Department or administrators. It was just the two of us doing very common things. We probably didn't even get the exact wordings or phrases for some of the answers. Like I said, we only did it on a few tests. I don't even think that was enough to make much of a difference on our AYP. So did it help, I don't know. For so long, I didn't think we had done anything wrong. And come to find out, irregularities caused an alert to go up.

As someone who monitors your code of ethics, how could you not have done more research or been more aware of what you were doing?

Beats me. I was young. I was naive and young. I was curious, too because we had joked about it in the past.

Teacher of the Decade is something that will come up in your future. And well, it was important to your district too, offering major incentives like a bigger room and not having to sign in or out when you leave the building. Do you feel your accomplishments are tainted, that maybe your success last year is tainted and you should give some of the benefits back?

AGain, I'm focused on today. It's been very difficult this past few weeks. A painful time for my family. I'm here to accept responsibility. As far as the past, I'm focusing on the future. I'll let the blogs debate my accomplishments in that time period.

Do you feel like you have to repair relationships with your colleagues and rebuild your credibility given that you denied altering grades in previous interviews?

Absolutely. But not just with my colleagues. I mean look, at the end of the day, this is my community, these teachers and I hope that this crisis will bring us together like never bfore. I owe an apology to them to the district and to all the students who looked up to me. Yeah, everyone.

Did you ever try other methods like changing a student's grade level to a year behind so they didn't have to take the exam?

No to that. But back in the day I did hint to students that their answer might be wrong if I happened to notice it. I dabbled a bit in that.

You were emotional when you wanted to address your colleagues. Can you tell us what your had to say to them?

Yes, thanks for that. For my colleauges, thank you for showing up today. These two weeks have been stressful and you guys helped me through it. I thank you and love you. I hopewe can put this behind us and have a great testing year. It will be amazing.

Mr. McNamar, you mentioned earlier that you didn't think at the time that you were doing anything wrong. Then why were you so secretive?

Good question. But again, I was young and stupid. We knew we were walking that line. I didn't check to see if we had gone over th eline. It was different back then. I was young and stupid and curious. I didn't want everyone to know what I was doing.

Mike Jones, a teacher and strong union supporter, said that your success should count. He said you cheated. Does his posiiton have validity?

I'm sorry Mike feels that ways. But everyone has an opinion and I'm sorry his is that one.

You alleged that the newspaper reporter did some bad things. Do you stand by those allegations and have you spoken with her since?

Um I did talk with her. I misunderstood some things. I reached out to her and we're both moving forward.

Mr. McNamar, because of your prestige as a teacher and how you want people to forgive and foget, have you considered submitting to lie detector tests every day, you know, just to prove that you are clean?

The current system is good. It's a different process from a while back. I'll submit to whatever they tell me I have to do.

Mr. McNamar, you told how Washington was a little less austere. Did you ever see other teachers alter scores or talk about it?

It was different, that's what I meant. My choices don't reflect that state. I was young and stupid. It wasn't Washington. I blame myself. This is about me. I have no one to blame.

Mr. McNamar, if I understand correctly, you weren't sure that your alterations would even help but you kept doing it to so many tests. Why would you keep doing that, being such a smart guy and all, if you weren't sure you were doing it right?

My statements were, you know, hyperbole so you could understand what I did. I was young and stupid back then. And curious. I stopped doing and now I'm ready to move on.

Last week, a Joanne Jacobs poll found that 46% of their respondents siad that they didn't believe you only altered scores between the time frame you gave us. How do you respond, and also, Arne Duncan said you "disgraced the profession," do you agree?

I made mistakes. I know the Education Secretary has a position and I respect Arne. Listen I taught Sunday School when I was 12 years old. I did it because I had to, it was expected. The best years of my teaching career came before and after that time frame. I just hope that in the end, the evidence points to a job well done. But if not, I understand that.

Mr. McNamar, I'm wondering why you waited until now to give out all of the information, especially after your interview last week.

Good question. I wasn't ready. I had to get my facts straight. It had been a long time. I wasn't prepared then.

Mr. McNamar, a while back you did an interview with 6o Minutes and reported that you had never altered scores. Last week you said you did those things, and today your ammending those statements. Can you assure us that what you are telling us today is absolutely the whole truth?

I was in denial then. I was young and stupid. No one had told me that what I had done was wrong, so I thought the issue was over. There was a lot going on and now I just wnat to tell my story; that's all.

Mr. McNamar, describe the first time you altered a score--where were you, did you doubt your actions, how did you feel aftewards?

No. No doubts at the time. I just changed the answers.

Should your success from that time still count? Or should your students have to retake those tests?

That's not for me to decide. Iwas young and stupid. I had good succes before and after those years. The past year has been difficult for me, personally and professionally. I miss just teaching. I want to just want to get back in the classroom Be a better teacher. A better dad. A better person. I can only tell my story and let the people judge me from this day on. That's all I can do.

***The questions are completely based on those asked to Alex Rodriguez
***The answers to those questions are completely based on those given by Alex Rodriguez
***In no way did the real Mr. McNamar alter test scores during his time in Washington


At 1:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice. I saw about 2 minutes of that presser yesterday and nearly vomited in my mouth listening to his half-baked explanations.

At 2:16 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Hey, did you know he was young and stupid?

At 6:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's really what it's all about...being young and stupid. As long as you admit to that, you can do anything you want to. :)

At 8:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've thought about this stuff a lot. Like Alex Rodriguez, I've been young and stupid--I've since grown out of the young part. Luckily, my stupidity doesn't have to live in the public limelight and I don't have to recount my mistakes as a teacher unless I choose to do so.
I dislike our smug willingness to throw stones and to rationalize it (he's getting all that money, he's made himself a public figure, he's an a-hole, etc.). We get to hide behind our smallness where we are rarely made to answer publicly for our bad choices. In fact, if we're not caught, we don't even have to admit them to ourselves. It would make me happy if everyone who expressed an opinion publicly about another person's indescretions would have to first list their own most shameful deeds and be subjected to public strutiny for them.

At 2:17 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Joe, while I agree with you that we ought not rail against athletes and other public figures my greater point is that a teacher who messes up can't just throw a few "I was young and stupids" and continue earning a fat paycheck. On the baseball side of the issue, I don't care if A-Rod took steroids; they clearly haven't helped him hit a homerun when it actually matters!

At 8:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Continue" earning a fat paycheck??? Where did you say you were working, and do they need an old and stupid.....

At 3:21 AM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Yeah, about that fat paycheck...


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