Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wake Up And Smell The Coffee



There are teachers I work with who still adhere to the same regents standards that were around 20 years ago. Although it would be great if this was possible, its not. Twenty years ago, there was no NCLB. The students today are not the same regents students we taught then and it is important to remember that.
In the past there was tracking. Everyone was not pushed into academic classes. There were general, vocational and commercial diplomas available and students had a choice (sometimes the choice was made for them) as to which path to follow.

Even ten years ago, there was a choice. Not everyone needed a regents diploma. Students could graduate with Regents Competency exams and courses like pre-algebra and consumer math.

Now, in the interest of NCLB, everyone must be prepared to for college. The kids that could not follow an academic program 30 years ago are the kids in our algebra and geometry classes today. Some are extremely bright, but many are short a few cans in the six-pack part of their brain when it comes to mathematics. But, in spite of this, they are learning. I know, I see progress every day.

Will my students pass the regents? I don't know but I am hoping that if I pick and choose the right parts of the curriculum, they will be able to succeed. I'm not teaching to the test , I am teaching what I hope they can and will learn. Will I even have an idea what is on the test before it is given?

Back to the beginning. Teachers have to get over the notion that passing a regents means the course has been learned. We can all thank Richard Mills and his illustrious Board of Regents for making the regents a totally worthless exam. If we are teaching a repeater class or an even lower one, we have to teach these kids what they can do and pass or fail them on this work, not on the same work we taught 30 or 20 or 10 years ago. We are not lowering our standards. The state already did that when they insisted everyone take these dummied down regents. The country already did this by making the kids take the exams because of that stupid, hurtful NCLB law.

3 comments:

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Teaching what the kids need and not to the test--what a novel concept! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love your rants... however you say some absolutely brilliant things when it comes to education. I feel many teachers don't grasp some of the points you made in this post. They are stuck on the standards they were held to when they were in High School. I hope you are partying your butt off in New Orleans. I am partying vicariously through your posts.

You go Girlfriend!

NYC HS History Teacher said...

I try to teach to the standards as much as I can, but I have come to realize in my 2nd year, that these kids are different than when I was in high school. Actually, come to think of it, there were kids at this level when I was in high school too.

Obviously, the Regents I took were harder, but it is not as if it is completely my students' fault. Society has created a situation with more distractions, less parent accountability, more likelihood to "label" a student with one learning disability or another, without really focusing on the larger problem.