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The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Philly teachers strike out

Please let this be wrong. Please:Teachers come up short in testing
In Philadelphia, students aren't the only ones struggling to pass tests.

Half of the district's middle school teachers who took tests to become certified as highly qualified under the federal No Child Left Behind law failed, district results show.

Math teachers did the worst: Nearly two out of every three failed that exam, while more than half flunked the science test, 43 percent the English exam, and 34 percent the social-studies test...

"There was stuff on there I've never seen," Haver (a math teacher) said, adding that some of her colleagues were equally perplexed. "When it was over, we just put our pencils down and looked at each other, like: 'What was that?' "

The Inquirer prints some "sample questions" from the test in question.

I pray to God that these reporters have taken only the easiest questions (perhaps just to make the teachers look dumb?):

1. According to some scientists, the Earth’s average surface temperature is rising as a result of the greenhouse effect. An increase in the atmospheric concentration of which of the following gases is considered to be primarily responsible?
c.Sulfur Dioxide
d.Carbon Dioxide

2.Which of the following statements is true of hurricanes but not tornadoes?
a. They form over water.
b. They have very high winds
c. They may cause great property damage
d. They may cause human fatalities


1. The average number of passengers who use an airport each year is 350 thousand. A newspaper reported that the number in 350 million. The number reported in the newspaper is how many times the actual number?
a. 10
b. 100
c. 1,000
d. 10,000

2. If there are exactly five times as many children as adults at a show, which of the following cannot be the number of people at the show?
a. 102
b. 80
c. 36
d. 30

Please let there be some mistake here. Those must be the easiest questions. They must be the ones that everyone got right, on an otherwise hard test that half of Philly's teachers failed.

But this guy has his excuses down: It was the test's fault!
But Nick Perry, a science teacher at Conwell Middle School, said one test was not an accurate measure of a teacher.

"Content sometimes is really overrated. A teacher is like an artist, a coach. He has to be able to inspire children," said Perry, a seventh-grade science teacher, who has a master's degree in environmental science and the necessary certification.

Inspire them with what? The idea that any idiot can be a teacher?

I think I just became a believer in No Child Left Behind. If the new law does nothing else, testing like this will make it worth it.

UPDATE: Philly has decided that is now going to hire a test prep firm to help its teachers do better.

Well, that's nice.

But doesn't that constitute "teaching to the test?"

UPDATE II: Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/26/2004 | Tom Ferrick Jr. | Teacher test is fair; failure rate isn't:

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