Slow start

Nine hours and fifteen minutes from the first faculty meeting of a new school year, I still feel a little behind and a little overwhelmed by the prospect of beginning another semester, but I’m slowly catching up, and I’m slowly starting to get my energy back after an exhausting summer that ended on a pretty but weirdly introspective note.

A visit from several former students today at school helped nudge me back toward my old self. I’ve finally finished writing the syllabus for Algebra I, which turned out to be easier than I expected, and my department chair gave me her English II Pre-AP course syllabus, which I modified and blended with the one I use for the regular English II classes.

Swayze gave me some welcome news today: On their End-of-Instruction tests this spring, my kids didn’t just make Safe Harbor (a status that basically means you suck less this year than you did last year and helps get the government off your back); they actually met the state standards, which is a major leap from where we were when I started teaching again two years ago.

I’m proud of my kids, and I’m glad my boss is happy with me, but I still contend that the metric used to determine “progress” under No Child Left Behind (or as one astute former student called it, “No Child Left a Dime”) is bunk.

Claiming credit for improvement based on the fact that one group of students posted higher test scores than the previous group of students seems rather disingenuous; that would be like saying Lou Piniella had “improved” this year because Alfonso Soriano is batting .260 this season, while Carlos Zambrano batted .217 in 2009. You can’t measure improvement by comparing the performance of two different people (or two different groups of people) in consecutive years. You have to look at where each individual or group started and ended; otherwise, your stats will not yield any legitimate conclusions.

(Heh. I must really be into this cross-curricular thing, because I just managed to cram P.E., civics, and math into a single rant. Go, me!)