What do you do when you fear your value as a teacher depends entirely on your statistics? You simply arrange to transfer the students who might mess up your stats to another class? Not easy to do, you say? Depending upon what you are teaching, it might be easier than you think.
Packemin HS offers its ninth graders the chance to take integrated algebra in 4 terms or in two terms. I haven't quite figured out how the guidance counselors determine who goes where as my four term kids have eighth grade assessments ranging from 1 to 4, with 3 as a mode. I'm not sure anyone knows So, to help the process, we gave assessment tests. On top of this, we gave class tests, submitted the data and presto, the kids were moved around. Ten of my four termers left to go into the two term course and I know I am inheriting many of the two termers tomorrow.
I really don't get the entire process. Kids who got in the high seventies on my first test were moved into the fast track. A girl from the two term asked to take the test today and she scored a 92.
While I don't know much about the eight grade assessments, I know that they create a uniform standard, a standard that is accepted though out the state. The assessment test we gave showed nothing. Some kids had calculators, but many did not (and the scores showed it.) My first test might have been easier or harder than someone else's exam. No comparisons were made.
I'm happy the brighter kids were moved. I would have done it differently, but they should be in the better class. Unfortunately, they were not consulted and hit with the change when they walked in the building. It is really the other kids I am more concerned with. Kids coming form middle school are just adjusting to a new building and a new way of doing things. Their first exams might not be indicative of how they will do in the class yet, because of the fear of being labeled a poor teacher due to statistics, these kids are being dumped and they will never be able to get through four years of real math.
So here I am doing what I do best, bitching about the system. I am really lucky to have the four term group because I am sure if I had the two termers I would have kept them all, statistics be dammed. I refused to dump my geometry kids last year and my stats took a beating. My teaching value has been devalued because of this (as I am reminded at every departmental conference.) I don't care. If my work load ever lightens, I am going to look up the five or six kids I had to drop and see what happened to them. I talk to one of them all the time and he has yet to pass a math class. More teachers would be willing to keep them if they weren't so worried about the stats.