Sunday, August 02, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies and Then There Are Statistics

On vacation, listening to my husband snore away and I am still agonizing over my crappy geometry regents results. Statistics can be played with many ways and finally I decided if I look at them from a different angle they might not look so bad.

1. 97% of my students showed up to take the exam--even the two kids who had been absent almost all term. I'm proud of them for making the effort and attempting the exam. Other teachers might have discouraged them, I didn't.

2. 87% of my class in June was the class I started with in September. I held on to almost all, in hopes that they would make it through.

3. 50% of the kids that should have been dropped passed the regents. That makes 10 more kids on their way to an advanced diploma, kids that would not have made it if I went for the higher statistics and dropped them out.

4. 55% of the kids cared enough to spend the entire day in school the Saturday before the regents reviewing for the exam.

5. 67% would have passed if I did not inherit kids other teachers did not want.

6. 82% would have passed if I had dropped out the kids that were failing in January.

I could figure out the percentage of the class that never legitimately passed algebra and passed geometry, I could figure out the percentage of the class that managed to get a 65 by coming to tutoring every day, I could figure out stats tons of ways but nothing matters. The bottom line to all of this is that no one cares about anything, except the end product, unless of course you are the Mayor and you can use the stats anyway you like. President Obama would strip my tenure if he could. My stats sucked and I will just have to live with it.

You will never be able to hear that pin drop in my classroom and being able to hear that sound will not change anything one bit.

Ricochet said...

I think I've told you the stats on my class last year. When you are given students at the bottom of the group, your statistics will never match those at the top - but those kids deserve qualified teachers as well.

Don't let the principal convince you that you SHOULD have been able to make a silk purse from a sow's ear and look at the positive effect you had on the students you help pass the regents.

I am looking at the kids repeating Algebra 1. I have one who has earned 2 credits in 2 years (as opposed to 12) - and the several who have earned 4. Or 6. It will be an interesting year. I hope I am up to it.

Keep on keeping on!! The pictures are gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

I was always upset when kids who should have scored a "4" got a "3", and that's because they were over-confident and didn't read the questions carefully. But I was more upset with kids that were not meeting the standards met the cut off and got promoted. How can one test determine what's best for this student??? Teacher judgement be damned!!

Schoolgal

Anonymous said...

The Educational Scientist applauds this post!

Why? Because it is not about the numbers but about what the numbers represent!

You should be commended by your administrators for the work that you do. And all of this matters... to everyone!!! I don't think any of this is lost.

The one question that I wonder if you asked yourself is....

What could I have done to have gotten even better results.

Enjoy your vacation... it's August and you will be back to work any day now.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I've asked myself that quesion more times than you can imagine and I can't come up with the right answers. Maybe I'm getting too old to do this anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think you do come up with the right answers... it's how you have come to the point in your career that you are now. You will take the toughest kids and make them successful.

Reflection just keeps you young.

17 (really 15) more years said...

POD'd- Do not, and I repeat DO NOT second guess yourself. You have made more of a difference in these kids' lives than you will ever no. We both know that there is more to this than those damn grades.

mathman42 said...

You sure know how to live, girl. As I had said a while back, these results are outstanding. The purpose of math in high school is to teach kids how to think and organize their work and not give up. We learn primarily in math from our mistakes.

Those pictures are truly awesome. Always take extra water on hikes; it's not the same as walking around Manhattan. What does that hotel cost, if you'd don't find saying.

Anonymous said...

just for the record... I didn't mean second guess yourself... I meant reflection. It was meant as a positive comment and not a negative one.

Pissedoffteacher said...

I really don't know what we paid in each hotel. We always tell our travel agent (he's the best--Carl Schwartz at Liberty in Bell Terrace--he deserves free plug)the what we want and he books it. The hotel did have a special--buy two nights, get one free.

I'll tell you one thing, this is not a cheap vacation. I'm dreading the bills when we get home.

institutrice said...

Have you read the Blueberry story?

http://www.jamievollmer.com/blue_story.html

I don't know if it's really true, but it's been around for years. Even if it's not, it's the perfect analogy for how public schools work. This is what we need politicians to understand - we teach *everybody*, not just the cream of the crop.

I love your stats. I hope you show them to your admins, as well as the letter from your calculus student. They matter.