Florida Teacher Test Scoring is Flawed Or….

GKT infoOn Tuesday two Florida teachers made their cases in court claiming that Florida teacher testing is flawed. Now, how is it flawed? Isn’t Florida rigorous? No, it’s not. Florida as a state has one of the worst educational systems in the country. The system is tough on both students and teachers. The present problem with teacher exams, especially General Knowledge Exam, is that 40% of teachers fail these tests. No one knows why or how. Well, we do know how and why.

This is why. Pearson and Florida Department of Education administer exams that they claim are research based. No one has ever seen this research. In the case that you have, please enlighten the rest of us. These tests are designed for teachers to fail, so that Pearson can profit from retakes that cost $200 per retake. More retakes, more money.

Now, teachers are saying that these tests cannot be valid if 40% of university graduates are failing these exams. What we should get to see is Pearson (British corporate giant) that rules American education system sit down with university professors who had graduated these failing teachers. Perhaps, Pearson can explain their rigorous process to American top notch professors. Unlike in other countries, where teachers are C students, American teachers are overachievers. They are smart, hard-working and motivated, despite being grossly underpaid. No one knows where is their drive for financial struggle coming from. They must really love their work. Only if they were not so poor.

What is even more appalling is the analysis of passing rates between different races and genders. Males fair the best, unless they are African Americans. Females, African Americans and Hispanics have the lowest passing teacher exam rates. Hm, what seems wrong about this? Is it possible that this test isn’t only designed for failure but is also created to fail minorities and women. ?????

Pearson’s History of Testing Problems -A List

Pearson Representative Claimed No Flaw in Their System:

Here is the Never Ending List: (Source: Washington Post)

1999-2000 Arizona – 12,000 tests misgraded due to flawed answer key
2000 Florida – Test score delivery delayed resulting in $4 million fine
2000 Minnesota – Misgraded 45,739  graduation tests leads to lawsuit with $11 million settlement – judge found “years of quality control problems” and a “culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting”
2000 Washington – 204,000 writing WASL exams rescored
2002 Florida – Dozens of school districts received no state grades for their 2002 scores because of a “programming error” at the DOE. One Montessori school never received scores because NCS Pearson claimed not to have received the tests.
2005 Michigan – Scores delayed and fines levied per contract
2005 Virginia  – Computerized test misgraded – five students awarded $5,000 scholarships
2005-2006 SAT college admissions test – 4400 tests wrongly scored; $3 million settlement after lawsuit (note FairTest was an expert witness for plaintiffs)
2007-2011 Mississippi – Subcontractor programs correct answer as incorrect resulting in erroneous results for almost four years during which time 126 students flunked the exam due to that wrongly scored item. Auditors criticized Pearson’s quality-control checks, and the firm offered $600,000 in scholarships as compensation

Continue With The List

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Should We Do Away With Teacher Tenure?????

“Seizing on a national anxiety over poor student performance, many governors are taking aim at a bedrock tradition of public schools: teacher tenure.”

(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/us/01tenure.html?_r=2&ref=education)

Teacher tenure seems to be a topic of discussion lately, as it should be. Our students are not performing well in school and while teachers are not the main reason that our schools and kids are failing, they are one of the reasons. We need knowledgeable and effective teachers. We need teachers who love teaching and who love teaching kids. We need teachers who can teach in a racially diverse classroom, and we also need teachers who can teach to many different learning styles. We need teachers who can see potential in every child, rather than always viewing his/her classroom as a Bell Curve.

Our public schools grant teachers tenure after teaching for only 2-3 years. The truth is, it takes time to develop an effective teacher. And if we are to accurately assess if a person would make a good teacher, we need to observe their progress for more than a couple of years. The probationary period needs to be much longer. There is simply no way to tell if someone is going to become a “good” teacher after only 3 years.

A well known “ten year/ten thousand hours” rule holds that it takes 10 years or ten thousand hours to reach the level of an expert. So instead of doing away with teacher tenure, probationary period should be much longer than three years. This would allow for more accurate assessment of teachers’ abilities and effectiveness. At the same time, more experienced teachers with years of experience and higher salaries would not be at risk of dismissal due to budget cuts and arbitrary decisions.