Trouble With Standards: Part 2

In a stack of papers called Legislation.

  • Jan
  • 21
  • 2007

Environment makes a difference in student education and standards don’t take that into account. That’s a perpetuation of the have-and-the-have-not society, yet I believe that’s exactly what education should combat. Also, standards assess students, not teaching. Standards look at the product, not the process. Education is a human system and cannot be treated as if it were merely cogs and wheels we’re creating. It’s not all about the product; the process needs to be examined, too.

Content standards are trouble for a variety of reasons. I’m trying to keep track of my top complaints, but also keep solutions in mind. Here’s more trouble with standards.

Standards For Teachers, Not Students

Teaching should certainly be more rigorous and it should surely not encourage such inertia as it currently does through the tenure system and automatic pay raises each year. If we have teaching standards that are tested, teachers required to meet certain benchmarks, teachers evaluated as often as necessary, that leads to better teaching. If I’m a poor teacher, I don’t care what I’m teaching my students and I don’t pay attention to the standards anyway.

It’s In The Standards

Unless it’s going to be useful beyond the doors of my classroom, why teach it? Standards utterly discourage that line of questioning. More teachers need to ask why they are teaching what they are teaching, not fewer. There are several standards I routinely do not teach because I firmly believe they will never come in handy for my students. You should be making that same decision.

We can’t allow the standards to dictate and become justification for curriculum.

My biggest bone to pick with standards revolves around English standards specifically. That, along with my list of possible solutions to this mess, will appear next time.


1. Elona says:

[1/21/2007 - 8:29 pm]

Environment does make a difference. I couldn’t agree with you more. My classroom is in the Credit Resource Centre this year. Many of my learning disabled students or at risk-kids prefer to work in my classroom even when they are in another teacher’s class. (I put that environmental accommodation right in their I.E.P. so teachers will let students come to my clasroom if they want to.) I have an open door policy. If there’s room, they can come from math, science English where ever and work in my room along with my students. Some kids just drop in to touch base. At the end of semesters, I tell my students that just because they are no longer in my class doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see them and help them. Some students really appreciate having a safe place to go to, at least that’s what they tell me.

I also agree that teachers need to be required to met certain bench marks. Golden handcuffs are all that are keeping some teachers in the classroom. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. We all have different strengths and should be encouraged to work in careers that are a good fit.

2. Todd says:

[1/22/2007 - 10:47 am]

What a nice way to put it! I personally think that some teachers should just get canned and I don’t care where they go after.

When I walk onto a new school campus and see nice buildings and classroom ceilings without water stains and a library with modern books on the shelves, I get the sense that those kids have one more thing going for them than so many others. If you haven’t already, check out Kozol for a shot of how bad it can get.

3. Elona says:

[1/22/2007 - 6:21 pm]

Environment is important in many ways. First it sends a message about worth. I’ve been teaching special education classes,now know as learning strategy classes, for a long,long time. Often, my classroom was little more than a walk-in storage closet furnished with everyone’s cast offs. (Let’s give it to special ed) I’ve been screaming and yelling about the second rate treatment we got for years. Special education and at-risk kids weren’t a high priority until recently. Now we get lots of attention and support. Now were special. So now, I have a deluxe classroom. I actually like spending time in there- no watermarks on the ceiling or flaking paint on the walls.

Environment also sends another message, one of expectations. For a few years I worked at a school that I always thought looked like the inside of a small prison. Students hated going there. Lot’s of grey. Teachers spent most of their time policing the students. We had a zillion supervisions. Students were expected to behave badly, so they did. I used to shut the doors of my classroom and try create a different vibe in there.

Recently I was in a new school that looked like something out of architectural digest- the science labs were state of the art, the library had dozens of computer stations, there were cathedral like ceilings in the main hall way, windows galore, beautiful wood trim etc It was breath taking. I couldn’t believe a school could be that beautiful. Where was the beautifully appointed special education classroom- on the third floor at the end of the hall away from everything. Nice message!