Spring 2017

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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Page 22 of 43

ALLOW TEACHERS TO TEACH. Quality teachers want to teach, not do paperwork, tend to administrative matters, manage behavioral problems, or act as social workers. Many teachers leave poor, minority, inner-city schools not because of a bias or lack of com- passion for the students or their neighborhoods. Rather, in those settings, teachers often find that they spend a tre- mendous amount of time doing things other than teaching. I didn't leave because I didn't like the kids. I didn't like the adults. They wanted me to save the school, save the district, save their job… I'm here for the kids. —Texas Educator ATPE NEWS 23 T he federal government requires specific testing practices to hold districts and campuses account- able. Texas currently mandates additional layers of testing and adds higher standards and more curriculum requirements to these tests. Instead of helping direct a student's learning, these tests have taken over the school day and year, hijacking a teacher's ability to be creative in the classroom. Hitting testing benchmarks has become more import- ant than the mastery of the subjects. The stress of stan- dardized testing is palpable at many campuses, especially at those with high-needs student populations. T est scores, particularly those from high-stakes tests that students take once a year, can be used to measure a variety of things, but they are an imperfect and incom- plete measure of the effectiveness and dedication of any one teacher. When test results can impact the career trajectories of teachers, students shoulder the additional stress. Texas Educator: "How do you expect to get teach- ers — the superstars you want us to bring in or even the young ones we know we'll get — to come to the toughest schools when they know that the risk of being labeled a 'bad' or 'unsuccessful' teacher is so much higher?" T his district and campus rating system can ultimate- ly shame students, branding them individually with their school's score. Students might not be aware of the precise meaning of an "improvement required" campus, but every student knows what an "F" means. The inequal- ity of the current school finance system all but ensures that a campus's letter grade will align with the wealth or poverty of the surrounding area, but the students will carry the weight of that grade in a more personal, internal way. Texas Educator: "What are they grading? How much do you want to bet the grades line up with how much money the schools get? And why A through F? We're using the language the children use. They may not know the exact meaning of 'needs improvement,' but they all know what an F is. You want them walking around thinking they and their friends earned their school an F? Way to go." Change testing practices so that they help, not hurt, students. The A-F campus rating system harms students. Attempts to tie teacher ratings to testing outcomes hide inequalities. continued on page 42 This article was originally published on Medium. The original version was edited to fit in ATPE News. Read the full article online at

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