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Jeff Meadors: New accountability standards put burden on teachers

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

The Georgia Department of Education claims that the College & Career Ready Performance Index is about accountability. "It is not about threatening schools," offers the DOE. Rather, it is "about giving leaders a roadmap for improvement" and "levers to effect change."

But change happens at the speed of trust, and if classroom teachers lack trust in leadership, then road maps lead nowhere.

With CCRPI scores out just this week, the scorecard per school goes something like this: Of 100 possible points per school, achievement weighs 70 percent, progress weighs 15 percent, and achievement gap weighs 15 percent.

Accountability typically translates into more work for classroom teachers, so much so that many effective teachers now work in private, home-school and charter settings.

Teacher turnover costs U.S. taxpayers more than $7.3 billion annually, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. In some cities, teacher dropout rates exceed those of students.

Simply put, burdens placed on classroom teachers by accountability autocrats, some of whom spent years devising a personal calculus to escape the very classrooms about which they feign expertise, have made the field one of low interest to college students today. Very few college students express an interest in teaching school.

One CCRPI post-elementary readiness indicator for elementary schools derives from the percentage of students in grades 1-5 completing the identified number of grade specific career awareness lessons aligned to Georgia's 17 career clusters. Whose job will it become to teach this, measure this, and compile the data?

Middle school indicators include the percentage of students whose score "meets" standards on CRCTs.

Effective teachers never think about teaching as "common core" or "minimum competency" or "meets" expectations. By nature, good teachers seek excellence, living out a "high expectations, low risk" philosophy in classrooms. That is, until they became numb from being forced to play charades in 21st-century classrooms where individuality gets relegated to the back seat so that everyone can look empirically the same in a country moving painfully toward a nationalized curriculum.

The CCRPI does not appear on its face to restore integrity to the classroom, and if a teacher effectiveness measure coupled with pay for performance enters the dialogue, more teachers will leave.

High schools boost scores based on percentages of students scoring at least 22 out of 36 on the ACT composite, 1550 out of 2400 on the SAT, or "3" or higher on two or more AP exams. Many colleges no longer accept AP scores of "3" for exemption of credit. And impressive ACT scores begin around 28, not 22; Miller eligibility starts at 26.

An SAT score of 1550 impresses only when considering math and critical reading, not the full battery. If the CCRPI holds schools accountable here, then whose job description and salary is changing to include student advisement on national exams?

Will the CCRPI improve Georgia schools? It depends on the extent to which we are willing to stop the disenfranchisement of the classroom teacher.

That is where the real roadmap should begin.

Jeff Meadors has served in elected and appointed positions in education. He may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com.