Wednesday, November 10, 2010

He was dying to be a better teacher

I want to thank Daas Torah for finding me interesting articles to blog about. Here we have an article about a teacher who possibly commited suicide.

The teacher recieved a score of less than favorable and his local newspaper, the LA Times, saw fit to publish this for all to see. There are a number of issues here.

I'm all for trying to eliminate teachers who can't do their job. However, looking at standardized test scores? Couldn't it be that he inspired his students and so when they went to take their next standardized test, they were nervous and choked on it. I personally get nervous and choke on tests. I try extra hard to start off the semester well so I'm not nervously trying to pull up a less than ideal grade. Anyhow, talking about me is getting off topic.

I feel like this data could be tainted in any number of ways. For instance, what if this man just had less talented students than other schools. If it were a more poor district, the kids are less likely to have good genes. This could skew the data.

What about you guys, my readers? What do you think could taint data like this?


  1. We live in an age of data. Everyone wants data for everyone that may affect their children. People often won't realize that not all data is correct. As you say, the standardized test scores probably don't reflect on his teaching abilities.
    There's another issue here I think: What is the goal of teaching? To simply be a human information machine? Or to equip students with the necessary skills to deal with life, to inspire them to live the fullest life they can? Hard to determine if he was a homeroom teacher, a math teacher, or a philosophy teacher. I know my acting coach doesn't only guide me through and perfect my skill, he also serves as somewhat of a reference point which I can use to keep myself on track. Not every subject can have scores, and not every subject can show success in dry data.

  2. I orignally read about Mr. Ruelas through this story which has a lot more specific information.

    Based on this article, Mr. Ruelas was very well liked, expereienced and very dedicated--the article mentions his near perfect attendance in 14 year career, he lived just a few blocks from the school and that he often stayed after school to counsel students, parents and encourage them to think of going to college. However, Mr. Ruelas taught at a inner city school was heavily influenced by poverty, gangs and many students were speaking English as a second language. Not surprising, the school as a whole was rated as underperforming. Just rating any teacher as "least effective" based on incompleted data. According to the article, of the school's 35 teachers, only 5 received "average" rating at this school. Apparently at this school no teacher was rated effective or highly effective based on rankings. Is it fair or valid to compare teachers at challenging schools with those that teach at schools with upper middle class students that don't have near the issues?

    I am deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. Ruelas and my thoughs and prayers are with his family and students.

  3. Not to mention just changing tests could cause scores to drop. NYC changed its standardized test a few years ago, and there were massive, across-the-board drops in the students' percentile scores.
    Standardized testing is such a joke.