Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If Content was important, then ......

The situation below reminds me of when "The Stranger" gave Dr. Bergeson some WASL questions to answer as part of their interview during her campaign for re-election. (She went 0 for 3)

If content was important, then think about the following situation?

Keep in mind this article is over a decade old. It seemed like a great idea but have we seen anything similar elsewhere ... (content seemingly is NOT important)

Consider what happened in a Long Island school district that used Regents exams as a filter for hiring new teachers.
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Of the 758 applicants, only about a quarter passed: just 202 could
correctly answer at least 40 of the questions. A35754C0A961958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

July 8, 1997
Teacher Applicants Fail What Students Must Pass
School officials in the Connetquot district were not surprised this spring when they got hundreds of applications for 35 vacancies. Since at least the 1980's, the supply of Long Island teachers has far exceeded the number of jobs available.

But what did surprise the officials was how many of the job seekers could not pass the new test the district had devised to prevent any complaints of favoritism -- 50 multiple-choice reading comprehension questions from old Regents exams in English given to high school juniors. Of the 758 applicants, only about a quarter passed: just 202 could correctly answer at least 40 of the questions.

''We didn't think it was an outrageous standard for the teachers,'' said Robert J. Long, Connetquot's assistant superintendent for instruction. They were asked to pass a test like the ones they would be preparing their students to take, he said. ''And regardless of what they are teaching the children, they should be able to communicate on an 11th-grade level.''

The test was not the only standard by which the job applicants were measured. The process also included a review of credentials and academic transcripts, a writing test, interviews and teaching demonstrations. Specialists in subjects like math and science were also tested on their topics. But anyone who did not pass the Regents test was immediately removed from consideration.

''To be honest, I thought more people would get 40 or more correct answers -- after all, these are people that have baccalaureate degrees and state certification to teach, and some have a master's,'' Mr. Long said. ''I was a little surprised.''

More and more states and school districts have expanded testing and evaluations of existing faculty members in recent years. But education experts say the Connetquot district, which covers Oakdale, Bohemia and Ronkonkoma, a typical middle-class area near MacArthur Airport in central Suffolk County, is one of the few places that have used such a test for new applicants.

''This is the first time I've heard of a multiple-choice type test, though there may be others out there,'' said Chris Pipho, a spokesman for the Education Commissioners of the States, a nonprofit group based in Denver. ''I have heard of some districts doing a writing test, and requiring a writing sample from applicants is fairly common.

''Personally, I think it would be a good screening device,'' Mr. Pipho said of Connetquot's approach. ''If you're hiring teachers to teach children to pass tests, it's hard to build an argument that they shouldn't be able to take it themselves.' '

Leaders of the Connetquot Teachers Association supported the use of the hiring exam, and teachers helped draft and administer it, Mr. Long said. Officers of the association did not respond to a request for an interview.

At the American Association of School Administrators, a nonprofit group in Arlington, Va., a senior associate executive director, Gary D. Marx, said the high failure rate has ''immediate shock value.'' He said, ''Giving 50 Regents questions is a fairly unique idea -- not that it's a bad idea.'' But he added that a multiple-choice test was not enough, because teaching involves many skills, like the ability to interact with students.

Even experts can be humbled by tests. ''It's easy to embarrass people on this,'' Mr. Pipho said. In a seminar with 100 school superintendents, he gave a sample quiz in teacher competency that some of them flunked. ''I posted the results and got all kinds of rationales and excuses -- like 'I got here late because of the snowstorm,' and 'I didn't know you were going to do this,' '' he said.

Connetquot's test stemmed partly from local complaints about the qualifications of some teachers, especially those whose relatives were school board members when they were hired. But new members of the board wanted ''an absolutely level playing field,'' Mr. Long said.

The Connetquot district serves 6,800 students in 10 schools. Teacher pay ranges from $31,686 for beginners to $84,625 for teachers with 30 years of experience and a doctorate. The pay scale is similar in neighboring districts, Mr. Long said.

Hiring became a crucial issue this year because of an unusual surge in retirements. At the same time, a glut of trained teachers seeking work produced an enormous pool from which to pick: about 2,500 people initially asked about the 35 vacancies.

''The job market on Long Island is very competitive, and the board felt we wanted the brightest teachers we could find,'' Mr. Long said.

The new process was proposed by a freshman board member, Fran Hohenberger. ''I'm just thrilled ,'' she said. ''It was basically one of my issues when I was running, for hiring based on what you know, not who you know. I couldn't have done it alone. It was a supportive board, and once we stepped back and let the professionals take over, it worked beautifully. ''

The school board is expected to hire the finalists formally at its next meeting later this month. In the end, Mr. Long said, ''I interviewed some of the finest candidates that I've ever seen in 31 years'' in education. ''We will bring some of the finest teachers to Connetquot. I couldn't be happier.''

I would be a lot happier if Math Program Managers knew enough math to pass
a Trig test and could demonstrate some Calculus proficiency.

If a person can not do that ...
then how can they make competent decisions that affect the curriculum ....
when they do not even know the content of the curriculum


Anonymous said...

This test was fair because the district had to find a way to screen 2500 applicants.

I don't think as a lesson it could be applied to teachers in general, especially since they were applicants.

Perhaps it would be easier to see how ridiculous this argument would look if you screened 2500 people chosen at random. How many would pass then? A person would probably be doing quite well if they could answer half the questions correctly.

Anonymous said...

Let me add one caveat. In San Diego, one in five persons cannot read English. This is better than Los Angeles, but still worse than San Francisco.

Standards is not working because students are enrolling in classrooms not prepared for the classwork.

At this point, our school enrollment is dropping an average of ten students per day. This is huge. Even fourteen year olds can retake classes in adult school. And there is a waiting line to get into the learning center. I don't agree with these practices, but its better than what Washington does, which is throw students out onto the streets or a strawberry patch if you happen to be Hispanic.

We can afford to buy Iraqis shoes, but our own poor have to wear shower slippers. Our exopolicos are donut holes. Go Bergerson.

Anonymous said...

Next year the plan is cut community college enrollment in California by 465,000 students.

Schwarzenbeggar is proposing to subtract five days from the school year to save a billion $.

More fuel by exopoliticos to exploit the school system and build an apartheid republic. We haven't seen the worst happen yet.