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RE: [SACC-L] Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities

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  • Deborah Shepherd
    Your (a) through (c) would be the necessary sort of assessment to make. Nicely laid out. It really makes me angry how many resources are squandered by the
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 9, 2011
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      Your (a) through (c) would be the necessary sort of assessment to make. Nicely laid out. It really makes me angry how many resources are squandered by the useless rote test assessments that have been foisted on us. When test results really are used, it seems that mostly harm comes of it. Struggling schools get budgetary road blocks thrown at them. Teachers are threatened (good ones leave), and all kinds get laid off. It’s very depressing.



      Recently I had a chance to read over a college entrance exam from the 1860s. Granted, few Americans attempted college in those days. No multiple choice questions. All answers had to be written out with few hints. The type of learning was very different in some ways (Latin, Greek, and a thorough command of classical history), but the mathematics (as complicated as I ever learned) was the same. In short, students taking that exam not only needed to know what were considered the essential knowledge areas of learning, but they had to be able to articulate complex ideas, draw comparisons, and solve complex problems. It seemed like an excellent exam for the times and a devastatingly difficult one. My feeling is that, in past generations, students in the higher grades did less rote learning than we realize, but at least they had information to work with. I did not get fed too much rote learning in my ordinary public high school. I think it has been “No Child Left Behind” (or Allowed to Advance) that has done so much damage.



      That and all of the technology toys, not to mention social networking.





      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Andrew J Petto
      Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2011 2:58 PM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities





      Yeah, Deborah, we can argue a lot about various assessments --- and whether people really pay attention to the evidence more than the ideology.

      If we are measuring the quality of the teaching with these assessments, then (a) we need a pre-test and a post-test, so the "added value" of that teacher can be measured. And that should make a difference; (b) we also need an index of some sort of the things that we know can interfere with educational progress in students but are outside of the teachers' control: for example, students who move frequently and have to change schools because of the new address (or NO address when they become homeless); (c) we need a way to have the assessments relate specifically to issues of classroom practice that we know or can demonstrate affect the performance of students on these exams.

      I have a gaggle of students struggling now with case studies in my course. A part of the process is to take 3 "gateway" quizzes along the way that ask questions at a higher and higher order of thinking. If they succeed at these quizzes, then they should have identified the key concepts and essential ideas in the case.

      However, we see that they are not applying *learning* strategies to this material, but instead *test-taking* strategies to the quizzes. They are finding ways to use the structure of the quizzes to aid them in getting the right answers, without really mastering the material. Then, when they have to write up the final case resolution, they get it very, very wrong.

      It is more difficult and time consuming to grade these than to grade multiple choice quizzes; it is also more revealing. But, it will never catch on for general measures of educational progress because it is too resource-intensive to be politically palatable.

      The upshot is that we are no longer a society where a person can succeed simply by committing a mass of facts to memory; one must be able to do something with those facts --- including being able to sift and winnow them to see which are relevant to a particular problem and which are not. Until we make the structural changes in education that reinforce this approach, we may get great test result, but they will always be what the head of our math department used to call "absolutely accurate and completely inconsequential."

      Anj

      ------------
      Andrew J Petto, PhD
      Senior Lecturer
      Department of Biological Sciences
      University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee
      PO Box 413
      Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
      CapTel Line: 1-877-243-2823
      Telephone: 414-229-6784
      FAX: 414-229-3926
      https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/index.htm

      *************
      Now Available!!! Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism.
      https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/scc2.htm
      *************

      "There is no word in the language that I revere more than teacher. None. My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher and it always has."

      -- Pat Conroy
      The Prince of Tides

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Deborah Shepherd" <shephdj@... <mailto:shephdj%40gmail.com> >
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Sunday, October 9, 2011 2:20:26 PM
      Subject: RE: [SACC-L] Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities

      I liked Anj's analogy, too, but I have a feeling that the newspaper editors
      felt he was blowing things way out of proportion because of course they have
      little idea what teaching really entails. Furthermore, I think Anj was too
      kind about the criteria of the independent assessment. It seems to me that
      the assessments usually only look for severe leakage and appealing external
      appearances. Structural criteria get short shrift. The roofer might argue,
      "But look how solidly this roof is built even though it looks ugly due to
      the tools and materials," just like the teacher might say, "I taught a firm
      foundation to the curriculum content; look at the quality of the critical
      thinking and expression of ideas in these student projects." But if the
      students don't pass the standardized tests with flying marks, nothing else
      matters.

      Which brings up another question: who has evaluated the quality of the
      standardized test questions?

      Deb

      -----Original Message-----
      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com> [mailto: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com> ] On Behalf Of
      Lloyd Miller
      Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2011 11:42 AM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com <mailto:SACC-L%40yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities

      Anj,

      Did you really read this commentary several years ago? If so, the writer
      must have re-worked portions to apply to the current political situation in
      Iowa.

      I think your letter is excellent too. Often, analogies are risky, but yours
      is right on target. I too have a file of op ed letters I've written that
      were never printed. I'm told that the letters most often printed are short,
      contain no big words, and are directed at the national mean ability to
      comprehend (is it still 12 years-old)? I'm a rank failure at small talk.

      Lloyd

      On Oct 9, 2011, at 9:24 AM, Andrew Petto wrote:

      > It's pretty old, though. I remember reading it several years ago.
      >
      > It is true, nonetheless.
      >
      > More recently, I wrote this, but the paper wouldn't print it.
      >
      > Colorado Senate Bill 10-191 is supposed to ensure "quality instruction"
      > through "educator effectiveness". The bill eliminates the state's
      > existing teacher performance council and replaces it with a state-level
      > guidelines for teacher performance evaluation. According to the bill, at
      > least 50% of a teacher's professional evaluation will be based on
      > "measures of longitudinal student growth" and "achievement levels on
      > statewide assessments". No doubt, teachers are a very important part of
      > how how well students perform on these tests.
      >
      > This approach, of course, is similar to the failed "No Child Left
      > Behind" law, but it is intuitively appealing and seems reasonable to
      > people who are not classroom teachers. Perhaps it would be easier to
      > understand the problems by applying this approach to another profession.
      >
      > For example, let's imagine that we were evaluating the effectiveness of
      > a worker putting on a new roof working under conditions that are
      > familiar to most teachers. Here are the roofer's instructions:
      >
      > The nails have been used before; many are rusted and bent. But they
      > have a lot of "potential" so you should be able to work with them.
      > The shingles were blown off other buildings or taken from demolition
      > sites, but there are some good ones. Tar paper is too expensive; use
      > this nice recycled newspaper instead. It's almost as good. These
      > recycled aluminum baking pans are the flashing; we know it is not
      > ideal, but the other stuff is expensive, and you keep using it up
      > and asking for more. There aren't enough hammers, but here are some
      > heavy wrenches and iron pipe; they are good enough to get the job done.
      >
      > The ladder has some missing rungs, and the rails are loose at some
      > points; but don't worry, we have security. They won't hold the
      > ladder, but if you fall and hurt yourself badly enough, they might
      > call 911. Oh, and their pay comes out of your budget, too.
      >
      > Of course, you are welcome to bring your own ladders, and tools ---
      > as long as you spend your own money --- but you cannot select your
      > materials. You have to use the nails, shingles, and flashing we give
      > you. Your career will depend on an independent assessment of the
      > roof after you have finished. The evaluation will consider only the
      > performance of the roof --- does it leak; are the shingles and
      > flashing secured; etc. --- not how much you accomplished with so
      > little.
      >
      > If you would even try to do a job under these conditions,
      > congratulations! you could be a teacher!
      >
      > On 10/9/2011 01:51, webmaster@... <mailto:webmaster%40moc.desmoinesregister.com> wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Article Title: Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities
      > >
      > > To view the contents on www.desmoinesregister.com, go to:
      > >
      http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201110080405/OPI
      NION04/310080008
      > >
      > > Message:This is best letter to the editor on this topic I've ever read
      > > (and better than I've ever written).
      > >
      > > Lloyd
      > >
      > >
      >
      > --
      >
      > -----------------------------
      > Andrew J Petto, PhD
      > Senior Lecturer
      > Department of Biological Sciences
      > University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee
      > PO Box 413
      > Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
      > CapTel Line: 1-877-243-2823
      > Telephone: 414-229-6784
      > FAX: 414-229-3926
      > https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/index.htm
      >
      > *************
      > Now Available!!! Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism.
      > https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/scc2.htm
      > *************
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

      ------------------------------------

      Find out more at our web site http://saccweb.net/ Yahoo! Groups Links





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Andrew Petto
      Tell me about it. I am in the midst of grading papers on a case study about the process of scientific inquiry. The main result is the question of whether the
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 9, 2011
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        Tell me about it.
        I am in the midst of grading papers on a case study about the process of
        scientific inquiry. The main result is the question of whether the
        researchers set up the study to show a clear cause-and-effect
        relationship and whether they presented their data in a way that makes
        it obvious whether or not their hypothesis was correct.

        I am getting all sorts of interesting writing, but my repeated comments
        are whether this or that issue invalidates the proposed cause-and-effect
        relationship. I am also seeing all sorts of interesting items in their
        bibliographies ... many related to procedures in the the study, but not
        to the central issue of how the study was conducted and reported.

        So, in addition to the inability to articulate complex ideas; we also
        see that the trend toward short answers and MC testing prevents students
        from seeing an overarching context and applying it consistently in their
        critique of a piece of research.

        But, my philosophy is that these are people who are not yet completely
        educated and it is, in part, my job to help get them closer to that
        goal. I only wish they were not so far away from it to begin with.


        Anj


        --

        -----------------------------
        Andrew J Petto, PhD
        Senior Lecturer
        Department of Biological Sciences
        University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee
        PO Box 413
        Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
        CapTel Line: 1-877-243-2823
        Telephone: 414-229-6784
        FAX: 414-229-3926
        https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/index.htm

        *************
        Now Available!!! Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism.
        https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/scc2.htm
        *************



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Lynch, Brian M
        Yes, and if someone is looking to determine the effectiveness of the dentists, those dentists would do well to become adept at demonstrating the difference
        Message 3 of 9 , Oct 10, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          Yes, and if someone is looking to determine the effectiveness of the dentists, those dentists would do well to become adept at demonstrating the difference achieved, between start of treatment and end of treatment, to make the point of how much change has occurred, from what starting point.

          At the same time, a dentist is the professional who is trained to know her/his own work. External standards don't (or shouldn't) dictate her/his own judgment.

          Taking it out of the analogy frame, we as professionals in our fields (as anthropologists, teachers etc.) use our judgment every day as we teach, and assess our students constantly as we teach-- whether we record it as a grade or not. What puzzles me is why, we as professonals, act more like anthropologists who have plied our professionally trained skills at field work, doing qualitative and quantitative research, in creative and often unconventional ways, and then are reluctant to promote our etic analysis in all its polyvalent meaning-- for fear it might be called "assessment"? We need to not be afraid to push back, by asserting the very skills of observation and reporting that are at the heart of our disciplines.

          Brian


          ________________________________

          From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Andrew Petto
          Sent: Sun 10/9/2011 7:11 PM
          To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities




          To be fair, not the exact words, but the same analogy; the dentists who
          work with the neediest patients are likely to have the worst outcomes.
          http://www.teachervision.fen.com/education-and-state/education-and-social-issues/4727.html

          This was significantly reworked and focused on the local situation.

          Anj

          On 10/9/2011 11:42, Lloyd Miller wrote:
          > Anj,
          >
          > Did you really read this commentary several years ago? If so, the writer must have re-worked portions to apply to the current political situation in Iowa.
          >
          > I think your letter is excellent too. Often, analogies are risky, but yours is right on target. I too have a file of op ed letters I've written that were never printed. I'm told that the letters most often printed are short, contain no big words, and are directed at the national mean ability to comprehend (is it still 12 years-old)? I'm a rank failure at small talk.
          >
          > Lloyd
          >
          >
          >
          > On Oct 9, 2011, at 9:24 AM, Andrew Petto wrote:
          >
          >> It's pretty old, though. I remember reading it several years ago.
          >>
          >> It is true, nonetheless.
          >>
          >> More recently, I wrote this, but the paper wouldn't print it.
          >>
          >> Colorado Senate Bill 10-191 is supposed to ensure "quality instruction"
          >> through "educator effectiveness". The bill eliminates the state's
          >> existing teacher performance council and replaces it with a state-level
          >> guidelines for teacher performance evaluation. According to the bill, at
          >> least 50% of a teacher's professional evaluation will be based on
          >> "measures of longitudinal student growth" and "achievement levels on
          >> statewide assessments". No doubt, teachers are a very important part of
          >> how how well students perform on these tests.
          >>
          >> This approach, of course, is similar to the failed "No Child Left
          >> Behind" law, but it is intuitively appealing and seems reasonable to
          >> people who are not classroom teachers. Perhaps it would be easier to
          >> understand the problems by applying this approach to another profession.
          >>
          >> For example, let's imagine that we were evaluating the effectiveness of
          >> a worker putting on a new roof working under conditions that are
          >> familiar to most teachers. Here are the roofer's instructions:
          >>
          >> The nails have been used before; many are rusted and bent. But they
          >> have a lot of "potential" so you should be able to work with them.
          >> The shingles were blown off other buildings or taken from demolition
          >> sites, but there are some good ones. Tar paper is too expensive; use
          >> this nice recycled newspaper instead. It's almost as good. These
          >> recycled aluminum baking pans are the flashing; we know it is not
          >> ideal, but the other stuff is expensive, and you keep using it up
          >> and asking for more. There aren't enough hammers, but here are some
          >> heavy wrenches and iron pipe; they are good enough to get the job done.
          >>
          >> The ladder has some missing rungs, and the rails are loose at some
          >> points; but don't worry, we have security. They won't hold the
          >> ladder, but if you fall and hurt yourself badly enough, they might
          >> call 911. Oh, and their pay comes out of your budget, too.
          >>
          >> Of course, you are welcome to bring your own ladders, and tools ---
          >> as long as you spend your own money --- but you cannot select your
          >> materials. You have to use the nails, shingles, and flashing we give
          >> you. Your career will depend on an independent assessment of the
          >> roof after you have finished. The evaluation will consider only the
          >> performance of the roof --- does it leak; are the shingles and
          >> flashing secured; etc. --- not how much you accomplished with so
          >> little.
          >>
          >> If you would even try to do a job under these conditions,
          >> congratulations! you could be a teacher!
          >>
          >> On 10/9/2011 01:51, webmaster@... <mailto:webmaster%40moc.desmoinesregister.com> wrote:
          >>>
          >>>
          >>> Article Title: Blaming teachers is like blaming dentists for cavities
          >>>
          >>> To view the contents on www.desmoinesregister.com, go to:
          >>> http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/201110080405/OPINION04/310080008
          >>>
          >>> Message:This is best letter to the editor on this topic I've ever read
          >>> (and better than I've ever written).
          >>>
          >>> Lloyd
          >>>
          >>>
          >> --
          >>
          >> -----------------------------
          >> Andrew J Petto, PhD
          >> Senior Lecturer
          >> Department of Biological Sciences
          >> University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee
          >> PO Box 413
          >> Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
          >> CapTel Line: 1-877-243-2823
          >> Telephone: 414-229-6784
          >> FAX: 414-229-3926
          >> https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/index.htm
          >>
          >>

          -----------------------------
          Andrew J Petto, PhD
          Senior Lecturer
          Department of Biological Sciences
          University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee
          PO Box 413
          Milwaukee WI 53201-0413
          CapTel Line: 1-877-243-2823
          Telephone: 414-229-6784
          FAX: 414-229-3926
          https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ajpetto/www/index.htm





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