We blew it.
By ‘we,’ I mean the entire NYC education community.
Teachers, administrators, chancellor Walcott, we all blew it.
We were handed a very teachable moment on a silver platter. And we blew it. Big time.
We knew it was coming: we should have been prepared.
We had the opportunity to nail it, but we blew it.
I’m talking about what everyone involved in teaching in NYC is talking about: the release of teacher ratings based on standardized tests given over the past few years. The ratings release my union, the UFT, spent lots of time and money trying to prevent when we should have embraced it, embraced it because it offered the teachable moment to end teachable moments.
Here we were given everyone’s attention, a focused and huge student body, and we didn’t take advantage of it.
We should have done what we claim to do best: teach.
We should have taught the lesson on what statistical validity means, or the lesson on how a large margin of error renders data useless.
We could have taught the lesson about how one test on one day does not necessarily – okay, doesn’t at all – show what any one student or any large group of students know, don’t know and are or are not capable of doing.
Or the one about how the findings of a test designed for one purpose, even if it does that purpose really well, are not capable of determining the causality of those initial results. That’s an easy one: a thermometer can measure how hot it is (what a student knows) but doesn’t tell you anything about the efficiency of the sun (what the teacher does).
We could have done so much to make our community smarter, more capable of determining when something they are being spoon fed is BS, more able to know what is and isn’t true.
But we didn’t.
We blew it.
Maybe we really are bad teachers.
All of us.
Even the chancellor.