Another Horror Story by Texas CSCOPE Teacher
The district is not militant in that they watch us to see what we’re doing and they say we can use our own materials. But, when we look at C Scope tests, the questions require that we spend much of our planning time scouting for materials on the Internet. What we are teaching is worthless. C Scope shows that there are grammar and reading skills in each six weeks that needs to be covered, but there is no particular rhyme or reason for what we teach and certainly, we cannot teach anything in depth. There aren’t units that adhere together well. And there seems to be an agenda that must be covered. I always ask my students why they did so poorly on the test. The answer is pretty much universal; they can’t understand what the questions are asking. We are still grading tests on a curve, which helps some. But, those who don’t pass are supposed to be able to make corrections or somehow bring their grade up. So, we have to find yet more materials for that.
Now we have what they call Response to Intervention (RTI) classes. Kids who fail a six weeks are pulled from an elective class and placed for three weeks in another classroom with an RTI teacher–right now they are teachers with an extra planning period. This teacher is supposed to help that kid get his or her grades back up. The first six weeks there were 180 students RTI. These are kids who, for whatever reason, did not do their work in class, nor did they do it in detention, or academic night school. That means that the regular classroom teacher must get work together for each of his/her students up to four times! I was at school today for six hours to get caught up on grading. I spent that entire time getting work together for RTI kids. The principal sent out a caution a couple of weeks ago that said we have used something like 600k sheets of paper so far this year. It took two entire days to run the mock tests for the core subjects that were given this week! We have less than 700 students in our school.
Having bored you with all of that nonsense, I can state without a doubt that my 8th graders are not prepared for high school. We can’t get past C Scope or testing long enough to impart something of value to kids. This is a scary place to be as a teacher who cares. I am a fixer by nature and I can’t fix this. It seems as if math and social studies teachers have managed to skirt C Scope better than English or science. I think that we are in the worst possible place as English teachers. We have no materials, no time, can’t understand the materials we are supposed to teach, and do our planning by perusing the C Scope test and then using similar materials to teach the test because we must!