When the Focus Is on Results, One Way or Another

The title of Julia Steiny’s Sunday column, “Test results don’t accurately write a school’s story,” doesn’t really reflect the theme of the essay. Sure, she does say that the efforts that Beacon Charter School put forward to improve its reading and writing scores on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) would have been well worthwhile and successful even if the students had not performed as well as they actually did. But what Steiny’s really talking about is summed up here:

So the story of Beacon’s reading triumph is twofold. On the one hand, it’s about how the staff treats the kids generally, as illustrated by the TLC they doled out on the test days. Lots of schools resent the statewide testing program and communicate that resentment to the kids. Beacon nurtures its kids.
Secondly, the triumph reflects what a whole-school collaboration can accomplish in a year when every adult is on task.

The kids were given incentives and perks of the sort that a coach might give a successful athletic team — tools for relaxation, the necessary equipment, candy. And the teachers worked together, often outside of their areas of focus, to come up with a school-wide strategy to attack the target (namely, reading and writing scores). In other words, it was what one might expect in an environment in which the success of the students actually and truly comes first and negotiations and work rules for adults is subsidiary.
That’s really the question that our society has to answers: At bottom, are schools meant to educate students or to employ teachers?

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Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Justin,
You said; “That’s really the question that our society has to answers: At bottom, are schools meant to educate students or to employ teachers?”
This is an easy one; get rid of all the teachers and administrators just like they did at CFHS! Send the students to an empty school void of administrators, teachers, medical, guidance councilors, security and cafeteria staff and let them learn on their own!
The students have nothing to lose! The adult school staffs are being held accountable for the student’s actions in learning or non-learning so students are getting a free education pass meaning they can’t be held back even if they are fluking every grade because it take an act of the governor to not pass a student to the next grade plus they can always just drop out of school and the adult school staff will still be held accountable!
So to answer your question I say under the current guidelines and accountability schools are meant to employ teachers and staff as babysitters, breakfast, lunch providers and after school daycare facilities because local schools, administrators and teachers have been stripped of authority.
The students have more legal rights than the local schools, administrators, teachers and staffs have and they are not required to have a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree after 5 years plus X amount of hours additional professional yearly credit training.

JTR
JTR
11 years ago

Very interesting that Ms Steiny lauds Beacon…especially since she was hired to teach an extra curricular class there last year….cha-ching.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

On “results”? Seems to me that the article talks about when the focus is on test taking. No doubt letting the kids relax can improve test scores; the problem is the kids aren’t any better educated. This is a perfect example of how focusing on metrics lead to gaming the results and in this case at the expense of actually teaching (unless you think Wiis and iPods are great educational tools).
BTW, Justin, the union bashing thing is getting to be a bit of a mental tic.

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