Friday, September 26, 2014

On test scores, the same rules do not apply to Joplin R-8

If anyone thought the days of ducking and dodging questions about poor annual standardized test scores were gone when Angie Besendorfer rode the Western Governors University train out of town, they learned Tuesday night that is not the case.

It was more of the same nonsense we have been treated to every year since C. J. Huff took over the reins of the Joplin R-8 School District.

For those who were at the Administration Building for the meeting or watched it on the Turner Report or on the district website, you heard the following excuses for poor test scores:

-They (DESE) keep changing the rules

-We are working on it and we have new programs in place that will soon bring improvement.

-We are doing these things well and they are not measuring these things. Someday everyone else is going to wish they had been doing what we are doing.

-How about those beautiful new buildings?

All right. Maybe Jennifer Doshier, who is executive director in charge of something (the Joplin R-8 School District has more executive directors than you can shake a stick at if that's your idea of having fun) did not make the last comment, but it would have fit it nicely.

In other words, it was the same old bobbing and weaving that may have worked well for Muhammad Ali, but he, at least, had the ability to land a knockout punch. All we can expect from the crack team put together by C. J. Huff is more bobbing and weaving.

If some were put to sleep by the district's improvement on the MSIP 5 score, rest assured it had nothing to do with academics and the administrators told us that Tuesday night. Our improvements came solely as a result of improvements in the attendance and graduation rates.

And as the state auditors have been finding out the past few weeks, it is not hard to manipulate those numbers.

The board members who asked questions Tuesday night never received any straight answers from the administrators.

What no one asked, and what we should be asking, is this- Are we the only school district that has to face changes in expectations every year? Far from it, we are simply the only ones who have tried to make an art form out of whining about it.

The numbers tell the story. In the years before C. J. Huff arrived, Joplin's test scores were moving steadily upward. Ever since the pied piper of Bright Futures arrived, the scores have declined year after year after year- but the excuses, whether it be Angie Besendorfer or Jennifer Doshier who is given the thankless task of trying to put a shine on something that would seem more comfortable lying in a field, remain essentially the same.


Anonymous said...

They could not test their butts out of a paper sack ...the most arrogant stupid mean "directors" of what ever & they treat the teaches like crap

Anonymous said...

crack team put together by C. J. Huff

haha I see what you did there!

Anonymous said...

If this incompetent administration dislikes being judged by the statistics and data that make them look bad, how do they think the teachers that they are constantly trampling on enjoy it? The more they chase statistics as a way to control every classroom decision a teacher makes, the more these standardized scores will drop.

The amount of assessments teachers are required to give has reached a point of ridiculousness. This only erodes instructional time and prevents teachers from focusing on simply delivering engaging lessons. With standards based or competency based grading, teachers are required to have multiple assessments of every national standard covered during the entire year for every student. The only way this can possibly be accomplished is if a teacher is giving assessments every single school day. This makes no logical sense whatsoever. Why would you spend more time testing and preparing for testing than actually teaching? Do they actually think any student is going to enjoy learning in this way? What motivation will they have? I want to make sure that my car runs smoothly, but I am not going to pull over every 2 miles to check the oil and tire pressure. I would never get anywhere. This is essentially what is happening. They are so obsessed with being able to show a parent that their child was assessed in every single area and can give that parent some sort of "score" in every area, that the kids aren't actually having time to truly learn anything.

As a parent, I want to know if my child is paying attention during class, getting along with other students, doing well on his homework and tests, behaving well for the teacher, and learning important skills like his math facts and spelling. I don't need to know that he was assessed in 42 different areas in Language Arts and he only scored "developing" on some poetry standard because he didn't know how many stanzas were in a particular poem. This doesn't tell me anything. Does he appreciate poetry? Can he write his own thoughtful poetry? These scores that are derived from the assessments are usually based on an extremely small number of questions, so one or two wrong answers can greatly alter that score. I would rather have my child learning in an enjoyable environment that motivates him to grow as a learner, not one in which everything he does is assessed and critiqued, and I want his teachers to focus on teaching, not assessing. It is time to get back to common sense education.

Anonymous said...

10:24 - Be sure to vote no on amendment 3 or you will see an increase in testing!

Anonymous said...

Common Sense beats Common Core

Anonymous said...

Then after making that comment JD got on her phone to check her title loan interest. Because she can't manage her money, let alone a school district. Ask some older McKinley teachers about taking a collection to pay for her car repairs.

Anonymous said...

DESE does keep changing the rules but they change for everyone.
We don't need programs, we need teachers who can teach and leaders who know enough to let them.
We need parents who will parent.
We don't need Huff & Co.