Teacher Survey Comments #3
90% negative toward Educational Reforms
For further information about these comments see:
Teacher Survey Summaries on 20 Issues
Actual Survey Given to Teachers
(This is the third section of about 30 pages of Teacher Survey Comments that were written on the actual surveys. For the fourth section of comments, follow the link at the end of this section.
I definitely feel there is too much government control of education. I feel we need to also address low teachers pay and the high cost of insurance.
I have been teaching for 29 years, and I feel that we are expecting too much from our students at much too young of age. We need greatly to stick to the 3 R's in the lower grades. Then when their minds are more mature, they will comprehend better. We are pushing so much on the students that they are not mastering any one area. They are expected to do far beyond their years. It is stressful for students as well as teachers.
Smart Start hasn't been proven yet and ELLA & McRat are tools that can be used with some success.
There is no clear cut evidence as to what lasting effect the Academic Distress laws will have.
Ranking of importance is very difficult because educating children are becoming a more difficult job every year. Teachers, not teacher organization / unions should have a major role. Government is becoming too involved with little positive results. But we need to look at the community, business people, parents, and community leaders for some input also.
If teachers did not have to spend so much of their time on mandated paperwork and red tape, they could better prepare for the students. Therefore, students would learn more and test scores would improve. In other words, less time with the red tape and more time with the students.
First teachers could cooperate together within the school districts to write (decide) the sequence of their own curriculum. Then, these teachers need to meet at their respective cooperatives and compare area districts curriculum and exchange their ideas. This should be by department and grade level. The best way to improve education is to share ideas that work between experienced professional teachers. This should be mandatory especially the first 3 years of teaching and once every 3 years thereafter.
Some teachers need standards and curriculum frameworks.
I have too much paper work, and I do not have enough time to prepare and be helpful to my
Portfolios, rubrics and check lists are just more paperwork for teachers. Teachers do have a life, and they would have to spend their family time doing these three things.
I believe we are pressuring students toward failure because of too much testing.
An accountability or merit type system should also make students responsible along with teachers.
I love teaching; I have no answers to the current low test scores. But I do believe we are pushing our students. I would be very scared to be an elementary student right now. I teach third grade and have taught it for 11 years. I've seen a change in the students. They lack the ability, drive, and have a poor family life. The government can't change our homes only God can do that. Our nation should turn to God instead of government for help. He will supply or meet our needs. Please remember teachers when you pray, also pray for our nation and the world.
We are like robots, or they (the government) wants us to be like robots.
The frameworks for my sixth grade math are ridiculous. Slope and linear equations with 11 year olds? Who thinks that is possible.
The students are being tested to death. Some grades will take 4 tests - 1week each = 1 month of testing.
The government is taking the joy out of teaching and taking away our children's childhood.
We are already doing everything in our COE plan. We do things when we see the benefit; We do not have to be made to improve our school.
My hands are tied as to what I can teach now. I WAS a better teacher before.
The recent educational reforms have contributed to more job dissatisfaction or caused me to look for other employment, plus our school employees have not had a raise in 2 years.
The way you think to take the ACTAP will hinder students skills in scoring high on the ACT. You cannot think bit by bit. You have to work quickly. I am glad that my child is in college.
Students should be first in choosing curriculum and methods used in the classroom.
I am very dissatisfied with the ACTAP. My child was Valedictorian and my husband and I are both math teachers. She scored 31 on the math ACT, but she did not pass the math part of the "exit "exam. Wouldn't it be ironic to not get to graduate but have all of the honors classes and a 4.00 GPA? She is now in college and at the age of 18, taking Calculus 1 with a 97 A average. There is something very wrong with the design of a test where she and other students like her do not pass a test designed to see if you can graduate of not. She works math problems quickly - taking shortcuts. That method made her fail the ACTAP, but helped her to receive the Presidents Scholarship to ASU. I cannot believe all of the money that is being wasted on the Benchmark exam, end of level exams, and not the beginning of middle level smart start. Kentucky found that they wasted millions of dollars on the same testing. Why do we have to trudge along and do the same? COE is a waste of valuable time. At our school, we do not have to be made to improve our way of educating: We do this without being told. Our CEO plan reflects what we have already done. We are just trying to get it on paper to satisfy bureaucrats.
The same way that things have been for several years has resulted in teachers who are not progressing with the times. If we don't change, our country is going to feel the effect. Streamlining curriculum is the positive aspect of Smart Start. We were teaching the same things in each grade level and not covering all standards. Teachers need to be responsible for making sure students progress.
The school board members are a rubber stamp for the superintendent. Few if any school board members have a higher education experience above high school. Most of our school board members have been farmers and factory workers and do not have a lot of input into the education.
This last year during the SAT-9 tests a perfectly wonderful class of 140 students changed into monsters ( this was the consensus of teachers at my school - and there were big problems at other schools as well.) When I asked the students why they were being so bad, they said they hated taking the test, the constant reviews, and the stress they were experiencing and did not like being told that they had to do good so the school's scores would be better.
State tests are a farce.
None of the educational reforms are addressing the real problem which is discipline and classroom management. Without a controlled learning environment, all the reforms are wasted. In fact, the reforms are contributing greatly to discipline problems. The students are bored with the constant drills and practices that the state is requiring teachers to-do in order to pass the tests, and this contributes greatly to behavior problems. They hate taking the tests which are becoming more boring all the time with the reading sections being technical facts rather than interesting narratives. They seem to realize that the tests are really not designed with them in mind but rather to improve the school's scores. This last year during the SAT-9 tests a perfectly wonderful class of 140 students changed into monsters ( this was the consensus of teachers at my school - and there were big problems at other schools as well.) When I asked the students why they were being so bad, they said they hated taking the test, the constant reviews, and the stress they were experiencing and did not like being told that they had to do good so the school's scores would be better.
The bureaucrats implementing educational reforms are Utopian idealists that come up with all these plans that sound great - they don't even realize that they are asking one teacher to do the job of three or four people. For example, the State Department is encouraging teachers in every class to write, write, write, and to write every day in class. They have never stopped to count the hours that this takes. For example, it takes a teacher at least five minutes at the very minimum to grade one short paragraph or a couple of essay questions for each student. Five minutes for 130 or 150 students is ten to twelve hours for a teacher to grade one short paragraph. Then she has to record them, return them, match up papers with students who forget to put names on, etc. - 12 hours minimum. To do this two times a week would be 24 hours homework for the teacher each week or over three hours a night. To do every day would be ten to twelve hours of homework for the teacher each night. Isn't it ridiculous that the State Department has never stopped to figure this out. This is just one example of their Utopian ideas. Unless legislators and the state department include teachers in the educational reforms, these absurdities will continue.
"In school Suspension" (where students are sent to another classroom when they have been bad) is another plan pushed by the State Department and Legislature. Now teachers not only have to do lesson plans for six classes a day; they also have to do individual lesson plans for several other students each week who go to In School Suspension. These individual lessons take unbelievable amounts of time because it is harder to do lesson plans for students in another classroom knowing the teacher will not be there to explain things - so the teacher has to write all the explanations and instructions out for each student.
The ACTAP benchmark tests for 4th, 8th and end of level are not in the least realistic. They are designed for the top 25% of the students and test many areas that can't be taught. They use many puzzles and mind teasers which some students will never master and that would be more suitable for IQ tests than for achievement tests. (A group of experts from several universities that studied Kentucky's test which was designed by the same company that Arkansas is using, Advanced Systems, reported the above conclusion in their evaluation.) According to experts (SLOSSSON IQ Classification Chart) only students with an IQ of 109 should be able to successfully complete college. According to statistics only 29% of the population has an IQ of 109 or above. The educational reforms are designed by people who act as though all our students have an IQ of 109 or above. In other words, to get student to master these tests, they will have to do genetic engineering, and the teachers know this. Won't someone listen! They are even saying that we want one standard for all. One standard for IQ's of all ranges. How ridiculous.
Numerous experts have concluded that multiple choice achievement tests are superior to constructed or written tests that Arkansas is using for the ACTAP benchmark tests. The conclusion of one study said, "Overall, the multiple-choice items provide more than twice the information than the constructed response items do... we found that a 75 minute multiple-choice tests is as reliable as a 185 minute test built of constructed response questions. Both kinds of items are measuring essentially the same construct, and the constructed response items cost about 300 times more to score. On the basis of the data examined, we are forced to conclude that constructed response items provide less information in more time at greater cost than do multiple choice items. (From article published in the Journal of Educational Measurement. by R. Lukhele, David Thissen, and Howard Wainer and titled "On the relative value of multiple-choice, constructed response, and examinee-selected items on two achievement tests.") (1994). Why then does the state insists on using the benchmark constructed type test and insisting that teachers also use them in class?
The math philosophy being pushed on teachers by the State Department is disastrous. Students are not even expected to learn their basic math facts. Teachers have been told in some of these meetings that life is too short for long division. Calculators should not be used in early grades at all on state tests (they can use them on 4th grade tests now) and only for parts of the test in later grades. Students must learn the basics. Students who use calculators all the time have no concept of the realities of math. They can't look at an answer that is off by hundreds or thousands and even know it. Teachers don't like these reforms but are being pressured to do it the government's way.
The government is controlling everything now, and very little is left to teachers' discretion. The government has never managed anything else well. What makes the bureaucrats think they can do anything with education when they have failed at so many other things. What are they going to do when they take over the schools - it's the culture that is the problem? Haw are they going to solve that?
Teachers are treated like criminals when the state tests are given. They have to sign the tests out and sign them in and can't leave the room with an alternate teacher while test is being taken. According to a State Department Director's memo on the web site, teachers could become involved in a criminal activity even if they read any part of the benchmark tests. Teachers are anxious because they are afraid they may misplace a test and be accused of cheating. One counselor did misplace a test for a day or so and was a nervous wreck until she found it. One teacher in her school that is in academic distress said the security was so bad that it was like something you would read out of a book.
With all these problems how are you going to attract teachers into the teaching field? At the present time only 25% of teachers in Arkansas are under 40. We already have a problem, and there is more teacher dissatisfaction now than I have ever seen.
Too many people creating the methods and aligning the curriculum are not in the classroom working on a day to day basis with children. All students need is to be proficient with the three R's. Then they will be able to achieve at higher levels, and the quality of education will be increased.
I have always had freedom to use curriculum, teaching techniques, or methods that are effective.
Aligning school curriculum with state tests may make test scores look better, but the outcome remains to be seen.
The State Department of Education should put more responsibility on the student!!
The effectiveness of COE staff development depends on how it is used.
State standards and curriculum frameworks are a guideline for teacher prepared curricula.
Why don't you do a general survey to get a better over all picture of teacher concerns? I feel that I am a well qualified teacher who does a good job in the classroom - yet I have had no pay raise in two years. What about the cost of health insurance??? It has doubled in the last two years. Job stress!! Asked to do more and more even better than ever - but no compensation! Do well and it barely makes the news - something bad happens and its on the front page. Everyone wants to put more teachers in the schools to give students a better education - but no one wants to raise the pay of those already there. In my opinion the best way to raise the quality of education is to raise the quality of the teachers, and the best way to raise the quality of the teachers is to raise the pay so that people can afford to use their training and skills in the classroom!
I want to do whatever is best for my students. I do not mind using new methods.
I do not know how to teach more (for SAT9, Benchmark, and End of level algebra) with less time (time taken out to give these tests).
The people who are paid a lot more than me, Keep telling me what I must do but not how to do it! Help - we are in a big mess!!!
The entire COE process at our school has proven to be a waste of time, effort and money. The ideas we had as teachers were clearly not the "acceptable" ideas as desired by our curriculum coordinator. It appears this process is designed to provide jobs for people in the State Department of Education and for our curriculum coordinator.
I feel our education system is on the down-cline. This is because the teachers have not been allowed to teach the way they really feel they should. We have to concentrate on test scores instead of teaching the things the student need. Who is hurting because of this? The students, the ones we are there for.
The State Department of Education is placing the right amount of emphasis on improving test scores, but should not punish teachers if the students do not excel.
Students are learning much more much sooner.
COE staff development is not a total misuse of time but overall it is. It takes too much time.
I feel free to publicly express my opinions about educational reform without fear of negative consequences, in my own circles not at conferences.
Teacher prepared curricula are superior to state standards and frameworks, depending on the teacher.
The state's ACTAP testing system (criterion referenced tests such as the new benchmark 4th grade, 8th grade, and high school end of level exams which took the place of the exit exam) is a better reflection of student achievement than the state's ACTAP testing system, only because it is criterion and not norm. Who cares if they score better than peers?
This survey could have been done on likert scale, which would have allowed for uncertainty. A few questions I did not agree enough to circle either one.
The emphasis on test scores have led to teachers being told to teach only what is on the test. Our curriculum is to be aligned with the test objectives.
Teachers must be treated as educated professionals from the top down. Community support for teachers is at an all-time low. This lack of respect shows in our students and their parents. This contributes to problems in the classroom.
Some State and/or federally required teacher staff development program and workshops are really good and do help, others are a waste of time.
The students are missing out on the basics in school. We as teachers have so much material to cover we just barely touch on each basic fundamental.
My teacher prepared curricula are superior to state standards and frameworks, but it depends on the teacher.
Referring to questions #16 whether or not national certification would improve the quality of education. How can you possibly justify additional requirements when Arkansas teaching salaries are so pitifully inadequate? Young people of quality will not continue to go into teaching when they can pursue another career paying so much more. We cannot raise requirements if we expect to have anyone teaching in Arkansas if we don't also raise salaries.
Aligning school curriculum with the state tests will better educate our students to a point.
The State Department of Education is placing too much emphasis on test scores and coercing teachers to teach to the test.
COE staff development is useless.
It is amazing that as a declining society, we are pushing these latchkey children to perform at levels that they simply can not do. I would welcome any citizen government official or parents to enter a classroom and enter into the real world!!!!
Fourth Section of Comments