Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Happend To Student Enrichment? There is None Because Of Tweed's Mindless Emphasis On Test Prep, Test Prep, & More Test Prep



When I was a student in the NYC Public Schools I looked forward to my teachers veering off curriculum occasionally and giving enrichment activities. Be it science fiction (star trek) , recreated historical events, math puzzles, or games. This was during a time when the BOE was run by a Chancellor who was an educator and allowed "teachers to teach" as they saw fit to best enhance the students' academic ability.

Like most students I found test preparation boring and it was the quality teacher that understood that it was important to entertain the students with stories and challenges that kept the student interest. Almost all educators understood the importance of enrichment activities if they are to get the most out of their students' academic ability. Even the successful Charter Schools require student enrichment as a necessary supplement to the curriculum.

Unfortunately, things have changed over the last decade. The BOE is now called the DOE and the Chancellor is now a lawyer and non-educator. In fact, only two people in Chancellor Joel Klein's inner circle are educators. This change at the top has resulted in a "top down management" and no longer allows "teachers to teach ". It is now constant test prep with little or no enrichment. The result is stagnant test scores when compared to the federal baseline test (NAEP) and unmotivated students. Of course Tweed does not blame themselves for the problems in the classroom. Instead the DOE blames the teachers. According to the DOE it is more important to hire inexperience (cheap) "newbie teachers" who have little classroom control and does not fully understand the curriculum rather than the experienced (expensive) quality teacher who can not only handle the classroom and knows the curriculum, but will have the time to teach enrichment activities to make the classroom interesting for the students.

I keep reading the newspapers telling us that the reason the students are not doing better is because of the teacher's union regulations. The reality is quite different. The "one-size-fit-all" approach in the classroom combined with the disrespect of the teaching profession, especially the classroom teacher, by the non-educators at Tweed and the "Leadership Academy" Principal are the reasons that students are not showing the desired academic improvement despite the resources given to the city schools.

Test preparation all day, every day is not the solution but is the problem when it comes to the lack of academic progress. Tweed's "children last" continues.

9 comments:

Pissed Off said...

This is the understatement of the year.

NYC Educator said...

I think it's ironic that their model is so top-down to teachers, yet they expect us to have kids sit in a circle and discover. I should have my students, who just got here yesterday, teach one another English, perhaps, and hope for the best. And if they don't learn anything, well, they've put in the seat time, so who cares?

Ms. Tsouris said...

They've been busy practicing the educational version of "shock and awe". Education is neither a profession nor a joyful path to discovery the way it was when I was a young teacher encouraged to be idealistic. We read books like Education and Ecstasy. Teaching was looked upon as a craft and a worthy pursuit with spiritual components. Indeed, learning also is now a mere shadow of its former self.

Gideon said...

This is a tired complaint. Good teachers can use engaging, enriching, exciting instruction to prepare students for state tests. Test prep does not equal drill and kill activities; it's on teachers to use their professional skills, if they have them, to help students develop the skills and knowledge that are assessed by state tests. Moreover, the state tests don't measure very complex skills or understanding, so it's not a high bar. Unfortunately, many teachers blame the tests for their inability to adequately teach their students basic skills.

Chaz said...

Gideon: What planet are you from? Certainly you do not teach in the NYC public schools. Either you are naive or uninformed about the NYC Public Schools.

Woodlass said...

He's from the same planet as BloomKlein, Duncan, Rhee, the whole lot of them.

"Good teachers can — AND SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO — use engaging, enriching, exciting instruction" PERIOD.

It's when they're NOT allowed to use these because of (a) administrative directives, (b) a preponderance of tests and (c) data-driven fake-accountability schemes that kids don't benefit.

One generation lost. These guys are starting an their next one.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

With this test prep mania of the DOE I keep asking what happens to Special Needs children who need the basics; socialization, remediation, life skills, and host of other things not measured by the tests that now have become the criteria by which a school is judeged.

Student Handouts, Inc. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Student Handouts, Inc. said...

It's awful the way that districts (not just NYC) go cheap when hiring new teachers. It's the only profession I know of where education students/teachers are warned not to start earning an advanced degree until after they're fulled vested in a position. www.studenthandouts.com