In response to the post, “Teacher Stress – Part 20,” an old school LYS High School Principal writes:
“I suppose focusing on good apples or bad apple is a matter of perspective. I don’t consider taking an honest look at our profession “bashing.” You say the blog’s focus is on a “few”. Really? I assure you the general public is not aware that a Texas high school is considered Acceptable if a mere 60% of the students meet MINIMUM standards in some subjects. Move up to Recognized and you are “merely” leaving 25% behind the minimum standards. And this is since the state government stepped in and made us improve. We didn’t decide to do it on our own.
Let’s go back a few years. Many principals like to brag about their exemplary high schools under the old Texas TAAS standard. Under TAAS, schools placed huge numbers of kids into special education so as to avoid accountability and to make the numbers look better. It didn’t hurt that we got more money for special education too, but I’m sure none of us in our profession ever let fact cloud our judgment. The result? Thousands of kids received an extremely sub-par education and since the schools were not accountable for them, next to no one cared.
Under TAAS, you could be acceptable failing 50% of your kids, but on top of that, you could place an additional 20% in special education (or more) so that those students didn’t even count towards your required 50%. This trick persists to this day although it is being rapidly mitigated by the government.
A few bad apples??? No sir or ma’am. I say that few of our schools, do an adequate job for each individual student. Schools truly pushing themselves to serve students are the exception, not the norm.”
For those who think that the pendulum has swung too far, true or not, we only have ourselves to blame. I’ll come back to this thought in a second.
You forgot to mention TPM, exceptions and exemptions. I was working with a campus earlier this year that had two sub-pops that scored below acceptable levels. But an exemption negated one set of scores and TPM negated the other. When I was addressing what wasn’t working and what we had to do to fix it now, the Principal looked at me and said, “Don’t you understand we are a “Recognized” campus?”
I looked at him and said, “Don’t you understand that if it wasn’t for luck and politics, you are an Unacceptable campus?”
As a profession, we find it way too easy to convince ourselves that we are OK, that the responsibility for any problems resides elsewhere. I, on the other hand, believe that those of us in our profession have a higher calling. That it is our job to solve the problems of society. After all, if not us, then who else is going to step up and do it?
Now back to the pendulum of accountability. At one time, I was beginning to waiver in my belief that increasing accountability was a good thing. That perhaps we had gone too far. Then Hurricane Katrina showed up. I had a role in the transitioning of Louisiana students into Texas schools. Texas, for those of you in other states, has been one of the early adopters of most accountability practices. Louisiana on the other hand, has not. What was quickly evident was that the students from the “best” Louisiana schools were less prepared and significantly behind the students from even the “struggling” Texas schools. And that the Texas poor, black and brown students were out performing the displaced white Louisiana students. Why? Not because Texas students were smarter, not because Texas educators were more motivated, but because Texas schools were accountable for higher minimum performance standards for disaggregated students populations than our neighbors to the east. We were better because our jobs depended on it.
It’s hard to argue that the entire profession is truly focused on student performance and student needs when the data contradicts that. So a small group of us staked a position and began to blaze a trail, which begat Lead Your School, which begat you – the LYS Nation.
Think. Work. Achieve.