Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog discussed the Department of Education announcement it would require fewer annual assessments for teachers in classes for which there are no standardized exams. Those teachers are being judged by district-adopted assessments called Student Learning Objectives or SLOs. While some teachers gave up to six SLOs this year, they now only have to give one or two for purposes of their evaluation scores. Here is a sampling of comments:

Nanyh: The SLOs are poorly written and confusing. If we are going to use only two SLOs, that is progress, but some time needs to be taken to improve the SLOs we use. Finally, teachers should not be allowed to give SLOs to their own students. Since the Atlanta cheating scandal, schools go out of their way to make sure teachers don't administer standardized tests to their own students. We should do the same for SLOs.

ElementaryPal: As long as we think a test given to students who are exhausted from testing is the best way to determine the value of a teacher, we are perverting the purpose of school. These SLOs are being written by teachers who are not psychometric experts, yet we are treating the tests as if they are standardized. We are simply taking instructional time away from students to determine if a teacher is doing his/her job. How can he/she possibly do the job, if we spend all this time giving tests?

Lakeside: In DeKalb County, SLOs consist of 20 to 30 questions created by a committee of teacher-volunteers paid about $30 per hour with RT3 funds. What is a SLO? A SLO is a 30-question quiz, given during the first 30 days of class and again in the last 30 days of class, to objectively measure student progress on 160 to 180 days of instruction. The percentage of numerical progress between the first and last 30 days of class effectively brands the teacher as great, good, mediocre or bad. Get off the floor and read some more. In DeKalb, the qualifications of the teachers for creating these SLOs were entirely subjective. The quality of these SLOs is objectively horrible.

Linda: Sooo … because teachers don't want to do the extra work, a student's growth in a subject will not be determined and monitored to figure out if a student is progressing in the classroom. Seems like a perfect answer to making sure our students are making achievements, said no intelligent person ever!

Taylor: It's actually no extra work for me to give a standardized test, since I hand students pencils and test booklets and start reading the questions. Easy planning and no grading. If teachers wanted the easy way out, they'd be all in favor of as many standardized tests as we could shove in front of kids. But you have to understand we are teachers, not professional test givers. The meaning of teacher is, "someone who teaches." I'd love more time to do that and less time testing, even if it means more work planning for me. So, not as lazy as you might think.