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    « Fleming Sues Capistrano Unified, Former Attorney | Main | Children First Sets December 1 Event »

    November 17, 2011

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    I'm just saying that none of this stuff matters as much as we think it does. I have seen every single conceivable schedule in my 45 years in education in 3 states. Starting after labor day and ending be for memorial day, 4 day weeks and half days during the 70s energy crisis, stikes, snow days, brush fire smoke days, power outage days, block schedules, modular schedules, zero periods, online classes, and on and on and on. We are CONSTANTLY experimenting, and we should. Thats how we progress and evolve. How many "new" educational systems, programs, speakers and gurus do you suppose I have seen in that time? Dozens, my friends, dozens. I tell you this: nothing matters in the short term as much as with think it does. CUSD is at the top of the large school list because we are fundamentally VERY solid. Solid teachers, solid staff and employees, solid leadership, and solid parents. That does not mean we don't have our challenges but when we see a problem, we work to correct it.

    I just wanted to comment about the benchmark testing. It is too bad some teachers are not seeing the value in it as much as I am. As an English teacher, I knew there was no way I could teach all the standards by the first benchmark. However, I know which standards I taught, and it was great to see if my students mastered those specific standards. I also find it valuable to see what standards I still need to cover, or which ones I can skip (based on my students' results). I do not see the benchmark testing as a great tool for students or parents; I see it as a wonderful technique to guide my teaching more effectively.

    This is why CUSD has maintained the level of education through all the financial problems and out right attacks by a small group of mal contents over the past years-at least until the make up of the board changed in December 2010. The educators above work for the students and are passionate about their profession. Today we have a board that looks at ways to improve our schools even more and be on the cutting edge of innovations that will benefit the students still in CUSD. Thank you to all.

    Tabby,

    You're forgetting that the Benchmark Tests don't actually address what we're teaching in the classrooms, in many, many cases. At my school, we've seen questions on the wrong units, the wrong grade levels, questions with multiple correct answers, etc. Many questions were Advanced Placement level, when a benchmark test should, by definition, test a broad benchmark group of standards; our regular education students are not performing well on them, for obvious reasons. They do not properly reflect the applicable standards in a great many cases. Test results can be beneficial IF they actually reflect what we're doing in the classroom. However, the Benchmark Tests really do not. Therefore, they are really just a waste of time unless and until they actually match up with what we're teaching.

    So, why are we doing it? Money. There is a two year federal grant involved, so we're doing it to get the cash. What will happen once those two years expire? Trust me, Tabby, these tests will go away, just like curriculum mapping and every other district mandated experiment. Our administrators have privately admitted as much. I won't say which secondary school I teach at to avoid getting them into trouble, but yes, even our administrators see these tests for what they really are.

    Tabby, testing can be a good thing, if done properly, if the staffs have been properly trained (many weren't), and if the tests actually reflect what the standards indicate we should be teaching. Sadly, this whole Benchmark Test fiasco has failed all three of the above criteria. Fix those problems, and even I will be in favor of them. Really. However, until then they are simply a two year experiment in grabbing grant money in tough financial times with no real staying power.


    Can I ask offer up a suggestion to Tabby? Please don't use that silly Benchmark test to a) dismiss a standard as "covered", b) know what standards you haven't taught, or c) skip any standards you are required to teach. The correct answer to the Benchmark "fiasco" (thanks, Ticked) is d) big waste of time. Here's how I know: I am still teaching teenagers to capitalize proper nouns, read directions, and sound out new words - standards they have already been taught and tested on for years.

    Furthermore, four days of letting an English teacher know what to skip or feel is somehow "mastered" means an entire lost chapter of history, science or math. It means not being ready for a deadline for a competition. It means coming in sick because I can't afford for my students to fall behind another day.

    Teachers don't need a quarterly test with two questions per standard to know how their students are learning, what they have and haven't taught, and (God forbid) whether or not they can skip something. (A high school statistics class would prove the tests are invalid for that purpose.) But teachers do need to fight to retain instructional time if they consider it valuable, or they will lose it slowly but surely.

    I wonder how many parents whose children rightly reported that the Benchmark questions were unanswerable will think we are doing poorly and pull their children to schools like Oxford or JSerra?

    Speaking of Oxford - how is that going? For whatever reason there hasn't been much information coming from that school. Are the students learning? Are the parents happy?

    http://alisoviejo.patch.com/articles/charter-school-sharing-campus-with-an-elementary-now-looking-to-expand

    They sound like lovely children. Lovely children produced by lovely parents. Lovely families that do not believe that school overcrowding applies to them and theirs. We should find them a big lovely campus somewhere... else.

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