Yesterday was a very confusing day for me at Central Middle, full of both positives and negatives. One up-side is that the school was featured on KC’s NBC Action News as a school that is a “success” despite being underadvantaged. You can read the report here. The story claims “seventy percent of students at Central now meet requirements in the areas of math and reading” which is wonderful! However, what about performance in social studies, history, and science? The unreported downside to the story is that math and reading improved because they became the sole focal subjects. Kids struggling in math/reading have half and full-day “pullouts” where they are removed from their regular class schedules to receive special tutoring in these subjects only. I’m all for extra tutoring, but not at the expense of other subjects.
One of the down-sides from yesterday was observing three of my students cheating on their checkpoint tests. One student benefitted from receiving answers from the other two. When a student finishes the electronic testing, their score and the correct answer for each problem is displayed for them on their individual laptops. Presumably, viewing the correct answers immediately upon finishing may help them learn what they did wrong. However, any student not finished can hardly help looking at the screen of their neighbor or asking them quietly for the answer, so I consider it a bad idea. Much more practical would be for the teacher to review the test at a later time, so answers can be thoroughly discussed. It was quite disheartening to observe a student cheating on a test that didn’t impact their grade in the class whatsoever. I was also disturbed to learn that there is no enforced penalty for cheating through the high school level…another teacher even dismissed cheating as “a silly thing these students do sometimes.” My teacher abhors cheating and does remove guilty student privileges, but I wonder how much early experiences with unpunished cheating in K-12 education contributes to the chronic cheating I’ve observed in undergraduate classes at universities, such as KU?
Oh, and in case you enjoy reading education opinion articles, here’s another by a teacher from a struggling school district invited to the recent State of the Union address.