One ‘Last’ Thing

Grades were due last week. That’s pressure on even the most efficient teacher. Remembering all the years I calculated the weighted averages for each student, though, I am grateful for the programs that have so simplified the process. Nonetheless, we are often scurrying that last week, to get one more test in, and to keep up with the late or overdue work that turns up after parents, finally checking their child’s on line grade access, try to get their kids in gear. For most of us, a moderate amount of sweat is normal those last few days. But last week was different. In addition to report card grades being due, there were STEM projects to be graded, recorded, and passed to the next core subject teacher. The math component of STEM consisted of four separate tasks that had to be evaluated. Also due last week, were Benchmarks. These are district provided assessments for all students after each math unit is completed. There are usually 3-5 items, for which a rubric is provided. Once graded, I access a portal on line where the score for each of the items of each of my students is recorded. Last week was also the deadline to enter our goals and targets for DPAS, (our own evaluation) and just in the nick of time, we received the information needed to do so. Other than report cards, all these tasks are related to the current obsession with data. That the data is meaningful is doubtful. That it actually contributes to student success would be laughable if it didn’t detract from the real tasks of teaching and learning. Which brings me to one last thing. Last week I also taught twenty classes of middle school math. The emphasis on meaningless data which is accessed by no one, is of interest to no one, also serves no one. No one except those who insist upon their completion; those on their way up the nebulous career ladder of education, and who are willing to play any game it takes. Even if there are no winners.

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