Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Are They Measuring?

Tonight on Top Chef Masters, the chefs had to compete using bugs for ingredients and then, later they were required to cook without water, space, or fresh ingredients.  After the chefs had still managed to serve a delicious meal to their diners, one chef was sent home for not measuring up to the standards set by the judges. The point of the television show is to determine who is the best master chef.  Somewhere along the way though, the show lost this focus and decided to see how many hoops the chefs could jump through.  Are they measuring the quality of the food or the chef's jumping ability?  What are they measuring?

This strikes a cord with me. I am not a chef.  However, as a teacher, we are measured on so many things that have little to do with our ability to educate. South Carolina currently requires every student enrolled in US History to take an end-of-course exam that counts as 20% of their yearly grade.  The test consists of 55 questions and these magical questions count as much as an entire quarter's worth of material. The passage rate for this test statewide is approximately 50%.  Yes, we are giving students a test that we know half of them will not pass.  Every meeting I have attended regarding it has centered on what the teachers are not doing right to prepare our students for this test. Teachers have explained the vocabulary is too high.  The questions are confusing.  There are issues with the actual test.  We are required to keep giving it, and then, the scores go on our school report card.  We are judged using an unfair measure. The Superintendent of Education wants to cut teacher pay and base it on performance. I am not afraid of being judged based on my teaching ability; I am afraid of being judged using this test.  Measure me on the right things.

The master chefs competing tonight can cook amazing meals.  Diners call and request reservations at their restaraunts weeks in advance.  They are talented and at the top of their games; yet they get sent home because they cannot cook with bugs or without water. Teachers every day are staying up late to make creative lesson plans or grade papers.  They worry about their students who are not on target.  They tutor afterschool and come early to provide extra help.  They spend their own money to buy the materials that they think will get through to that one student.  Then, we are judged using unrealistic measures.... Measure us on the things that matter most, not one test....

1 comment:

  1. Woo-hoo! I am glad I am not the only one fussing about this! If businesses had to produce product using the same quality of raw material that we have to use, they would go out of business quickly...I am not against being held accountable, but give me the ability to test at the first of the year and at the end of the year to truly measure progress.