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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Teaching to the Test


For the last two days I have been in the Oklahoma Centennial Teachers' Academy over at Langston Univ. in OKC. This will be my 20th year teaching in public schools in Oklahoma City. I began at old John Marshall High School in 1994. It is easy for me to remember the year because in the Spring semester of '95, the Oklahoma City bombing happened. 

There are many, many new faces in our faculty and staff. Somewhere around 35 teachers chose not to return to our school. I cannot speak as to what motivated them all, but several expressed a desire to get away from a school that has been given a "D" rating on the state's A-F grading system and is under constant scrutiny due to the fact that we were the recipients of a federal "School Improvement Grant" (SIG). This is the 3rd year of the grant, and we if don't show improvement, there may be serious consequences for our staff and administration. Right now, we are being schooled once again in the "Marzano" method of instruction. How well we do in following Marzano concepts as outlined in his many books including Classroom Instruction That Works and The Art and Science of Teaching will be part of our teacher evaluation.



So far we have been working together to get a unit planned for the first weeks of school.  In our Language Arts Department, we will begin with the short story and teach the students in how to read critically and identify story theme and elements.  I will be responsible for teaching the 11th grade and probably for helping students prepare for the ACT and other college entrance exams.  I will not be teaching as I have done in the past to introduce students to the scope of American literature, although American literature will form the bunk of the selections I will teach in fiction. Instead, I will be trying to prepare my students to do well on standardized tests.

At long last, the political forces have succeeded in getting me to teach to the test.

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