Whatever your beliefs about high stakes testing, and edreform politics, we still have to measure our students in some formative quantitative way. That is why I never complained about the benchmark tests I administered that were written by Harvard Ed Labs. I felt certain, even though no one had ever bothered to tell me how the tests were written, that as long as I kept them reading and writing we would have success.
I was never allowed to see the tests until the day I gave them, so I had no way of knowing what to teach my students. I simply used the district scope and sequence in alignment with Texas State Standards (TEKS) and I did everything I could do to get my students enthused. I rapped for them, we played vocabulary games, I rewarded them for good behaviors, and I was merciful and forgiving. I care about my students, and that is why I believe their scores were improving under my leadership. We were rather dysfunctional at times, (not unusual when a new teacher is denied support or positive leadership) but that only made us more understanding of each other. With each passing day my student's were improving in behaviors and academics.
They were beginning to take an interest in writing, and we were learning the skills one piece at a time just as leaders in composition theory suggest. I did not simply "assign" writing, we looked at the process by studying pieces from the New York Times, our text, and literary sources. I was beginning to get excited about the year-end results.
Terry Grier (superintendent) allowed his principal and SIO to use me as a scapegoat for my student's failing STAAR scores, even though I had only been their teacher for the first semester. Their attorney, Catosha Woods, made the administration's motives clear during my grievance hearing. Since these libelous statements were documented by a court reporter, Woods cannot rescind them.
The facts speak for themselves. I went online to our shared SugarSync file and looked up my student's benchmark scores for the spring after fellow teachers alerted me about the lack of learning, and discipline, in my classes. Almost all of my students were failing, and growth was nonexistent, under the guidance of AP (TFA Recruit) Maloney, and the new teacher she had selected.
My students growth was highest at the end of the semester under my leadership. I did not proctor that examination, so no one can accuse me of any impropriety. I was, in fact, doing bathroom duty. But, when my students had a chance to visit with me, they told me that they "tried for me." I will never forget those words, because that is the highest compliment they could possibly give me. I am eternally grateful to them for all they have taught me; I hope they continue in their education in spite of the terrible obstacles they are forced to overcome.
My students were used as pawns in the administration's vicious little game against me. When an irresponsible superintendent hires a 28 year old woman to run a challenging school, and then allows her, the assistant principal, and the SIO (Rodriguez-Davila), to play "high school" type drama queen games with the teachers, then no one is hurt more than the students.
My students would have been more successful if they would have been able to continue their studies with me. I am fully certified and highly qualified to teach high school English. My replacement was not. What Houston did to my students is inexcusable. What they did to me and my fellow teachers is a travesty.
Note: I have the documents that support these numbers; they did not give a 4th benchmark, only a final.