Education Opinion

My Momma Told Me

By Emmet Rosenfeld — May 14, 2006 2 min read
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We interrupt our scheduled presentation of standards to bring you this breaking news: It’s all bunk! At least, according to a recent study commissioned by NBPTS from educational number-cruncher William L. Sanders which shows, as reported in Education Week, that board certified teachers’ students do not score better on standardized tests than other kids.

NBPTS is not thrilled with this news and offers reasons why this study might be invalid, while one blogger, Andrew Rotherham of Eduwonk, suggests they seem to be sitting on the results, more or less in the hopes that: a) they will just go away or b) the board can figure out how to spin it.

My take on all this? Glad you asked, loyal readers. There’s one teeny wheensy little thing that politicians, wonks, pundits and all the others who make their living off education but rarely set foot in the classroom just don’t get: KIDS AREN’T NUMBERS.

Call me naive. Rejecting test scores as the primary indicators of student achievement places me in the dubious company of Alfie Kohn and other pie-in-the-sky dreamers (thanks for the decimal system, Mr. Dewey, now go back and roll over in your grave). And I know that even NBPTS itself doesn’t try to pretend that numbers don’t matter. They run on a rich diet of educational research, most of which supports their success roundly.

After all, what do I know? I’m only the TEACHER. For fifteen years of my life, in classrooms and out, I’ve been working directly with kids ranging in age from K to college and in “ability” from special needs to gifted. Plus a bunch who are “at risk,” just to keep it interesting.

In my bones I know, as much of a pain in the pants as all the documenting and the hoop-jumping is, that the stuff NBPTS asks me about teaching is real. It’s what good teachers do, or try to, and on our best days we magically float through the classroom meeting all 16 standards without breaking a sweat.

So, in conclusion, I have this to say to Mr. Sanders (who somehow measures whether the board’s seal of approval “adds value” to people like me), and while I’m at it, to the politicians who pontificate about closing “under-performing” schools, and the test-makers who have made a fortune on the rising tide of accountability over the past decade, and, and... the whole lot of you:

Happy Mother’s Day.

Mine taught me what to do if I didn’t have anything nice to say at a particular moment, and I’m doing it. I bet yours taught you some important things, too. Like be good in school and always, always listen to the teacher.

The opinions expressed in Certifiable? are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.