Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why are Teachers Leaving the Profession in Louisiana?

As usual, the biased Advocate reporter, Will Sentell misses the point about the real causes of teacher attrition in recent years following the so called Jindal education reforms. His story about a report on the increase in teachers leaving the profession in recent years, suggests that the main reason for the growing teacher losses is the tougher tenure law rammed through by Jindal in 2012. Sentell fails to point out that the real problem is the attempt by the state to blame teachers for societal problems over which they (teachers) have no control.

Since the passage of the Jindal "reforms", teachers have been forced to spend inordinate amounts of classroom time mostly prepping their students for state tests. Then the results of these tests are used to evaluate teachers and to assign letter grades to their schools. The assumption has been that student test scores are determined primarily by the quality of their teachers in each school. Yet, the American Statistical Association has determined that the quality of the teacher influences at most 14% of a student's test performance. So when the state uses student test scores to determine half of a teacher's evaluation, the result will be a huge loss of teacher morale. Most teachers are very dedicated and fair-minded. They really resent being evaluated by such a flawed process.

The real problem is the defective evaluation system based on student test scores which arbitrarily labels a certain percentage of teachers as failures each year. Professional educators resent being forced to spend most of their classroom time doing little more than rehearsing students for state tests. Tests that are poorly designed, and whose scores from year to year are so erratic that no teacher is guaranteed a fair shake when these results are used to evaluate the teacher.

I just completed an analysis of the student performance on the state LEAP tests given in the spring of 2016. The raw scores on these tests average about 40% statewide. The passing raw scores on these tests are set at a ridiculous average of 32%. The tests are so poorly designed that even with months of practice and test rehearsal, kids miss most of the questions. Then those test scores are used to assign letter grades to schools. All the magnet schools that select their students based on academic ability get rated "A" and all schools that serve the most disadvantaged students and the greatest percentage of students with disabilities get rated "D" or "F". The teachers have no control over these factors, yet they are also labeled as failures no matter how hard they work and how dedicated they are to their students. The study on teacher attrition by Tulane University points out that such a system is driving teachers away from the very schools that are most in need of highly qualified teachers.

So simply blaming the changes in the tenure law for increased teacher attrition misses the point. The problem is that amateurs have taken over the operation of our education accountability system and have reduced teaching and learning into a boring and thankless job! That's why so many teachers are quitting their profession! 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling the truth once again. So many are leaving who are excellent teachers but they want out before they get a bad rating and get forced into the intensive assistance hell. New teachers quit after a few years because being young they have time to find a career that is respected and rewarded. We get blamed for everything, have no control over anything and are told to create "fun" lessons with nothing. Parents feel free to tell us off, kids follow examples set at home and back talk us and smart off day after day. The students who try to do well, whose parents hold their child accountable for doing their best are lost in a classroom of disrespectful, rude and immature students who play and disrupt the classroom. The PBIS program makes it almost impossible to get any student to suffer any consequences for horrible behavior and parents are quick to demand, "my kid is struggling so what are you going to do about it!!!" If you tell a parent their child does nothing they attack you on Facebook or call the superintendent. Only math and ela are important, the entire science curriculum is changing and must be ready for this fall, so summer will be spent writing and creating to get it going. Meetings and sharing on Google will occupy all science teachers, and here we sit in February looking forward to the 3rd nine week's coming to an end soon and suddenly parents and kids "care" about grades!? Our good hard working students who have suffered through class after class with disruptive peers see these same students suddenly wanting bonus work or to turn in an assignment they didn't do back in November! When we tell them No! They call educators unfair and mean. I find it so typical that Mr. Sentell attributed the number of teachers leaving to what I suppose what is now called an Alternative Fact.

Michael Deshotels said...

Anonymous I completely agree with your comment. This insane policy of blaming teachers for lazy, disruptive students and neglectful parents is so counterproductive! These so called "reform" policies are doing the exact opposite of reform. We are producing a whole generation of graduates who are lazy, incompetent, and who cannot be depended on to do any job properly. Yet we are awarding them a diploma because the reform system will punish educators if we don't boost our graduation rate. So many of these young people are not really being educated. The whole reform system is a lie!

Anonymous said...

I left. Too much. I now see teachers and children literally stressed to the max!