Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Would Jesus Do?

Since Charlie Rangel asked What Would Jesus Do? about the national budget. Yesterday, the CAPT scores were released to the public. I immediately punched in the address and checked them out because I taught sophomores this year and had looped up with about of my students from the year before.

In comparision to the state averages, our scores are still quite low. In comparsion to the year before, our scores increased dramatically. Time to celebrate right? All that talk about teacher effectiveness and how a great teacher makes the difference. Sweet. I must be great. And then I heard Charlie Rangel's question whisper "What Would Jesus Do?" with the four year trend I observed (chart provided).

In 2007-2008, I taught sophomores. That year, 63% of our students met proficiency levels in reading, with 26.5% of our students meeting the state's goal. In writing, 65.3% met proficiency and 33.2% met goal.

During the next two years, I did not teach sophomores, though in 2009-2010 year, I taught freshmen, who were this year's sophomores. In those two years, reading proficiency levels dropped to 55% and 56% respectively, and goals level dropped to 24% and 14%. In writing, a similar drop occurred. Writing proficiency went to 63.2% and 58.8%, and goals level went to 32.4% and 24.4%.

Then came this year's class. my responsibility this year, scored higher than last years. Our reading proficiency level rose to 61.8% and our goals levels came in at 31.5%. In writing, scores were just as good, with proficiency levels at 74.6% and goal levels at 36.7%.

By all accounts we improved dramatically. Except, doesn't the truth have to be told. I am in favor of school reforms, but we need to be honest about what is going on. The State of Connecticut will claim that their involvment helped to improve our scores--except that isn't precisely true. If reformers who blame teachers for student failure are consistent, they will praise the teachers for student success. Thank you very much!

However, the truth is that the 2008 and 2011 cohorts came into our building academically stronger and with fewer behavioral issues. While I would love to take full responsibility for the success, relative to other years, of those students, I, in good conscience, cannot. I do believe I am an effective teacher, I mean, I am highly qualified and all, but I recognize that my students came to me better prepared to learn from me. They played a part in their own success, I played a part in their success, their parents played a part in their succes, the State, um, played a very minor role in their success.

Ultimately, what Jesus would do, is be honest with the public. If Jesus were an educational reformist, he would tell us to go and sin no more. Meaning, he would stop comparing one cohort to the next when reporting about a school's improvement or lack-there-of. He would track the improvement of each cohort because that would be honest. He would give to Caesar what is Caesar's. Meaning, he would give credit to the right people at the right time.

Oh yeah, and he would teach us how to turn water into wine. Meaning, he would give us the miracle making power to transform common students into the most sought after in the world.