Let’s see if I have this correct? Louisiana as a state has decided that after only one transitional year, we will adopt the Common Core State Standards as is, despite the fact that in mathematics there are significant gaps aligning Louisiana’s past curricula with the CCSS. Essentially every math subject has been forced to teach one or two grades down. What that means is math concepts usually taught in sixth grade, for example, are now being pushed into fifth grade. That creates frightening situations considering that we are now being told to teach those sixth grade concepts in fifth grade, even though the fifth graders didn’t even get their fifth grade topics yet. In my subject of Algebra II (mostly sophomores and juniors), I will now cover Trigonometry and Statistics, topics normally reserved for senior level mathematics. Lafayette Parish has wisely decided to created modules–units are so passé in terminology these days–to try to address these gaps, but from what I’ve seen in my own classes, the gap module is taking longer to cover than originally scheduled, so there will be even fewer days to cover what the state now says we should cover. When May 29th comes around, there will be a new gap considering that we haven’t covered everything the CCSS demands.
Every year, I feel that I am asked to produce more mastery of material with less time. Already Lafayette Parish, with School Board approval, cut 6 to 8 days from our normal 180-182 day teaching schedule. We only have 174 days this year, considering the extra time built into the schedule thanks to the 5th period RTI class, but that time is NOT added to my particular class, so I’ve lost 6-8 days but I’m still expected to cover everything. And let’s be honest, I don’t even have 174 days. Last year, I lost 8 days every year giving mid-term exams and finals. I also lost two days to give the pre-test and post-test for my Compass evaluation. Another two days disappeared giving the March ACT date, one for bubbling information, and one for the test itself, even though it didn’t count for anything in last year’s evaluation scores. Two to three days were lost giving an practice ACT test in the first semester. Three days also vanished giving the End of Course Tests, especially when parts of the English test must be completed in one day, so testing ran two class periods instead of one. And Lafayette Parish requires Math and English teachers to give Edusoft–now called Data Director–tests that count for little and take away four to six days of quality instructional time. So in total, I lost 21 to 25 further days of quality instructional time to give more tests.
Is it any wonder that teachers eligible to retire but still exceptionally capable have decided to leave this discouraging morass? If the system want me to teach these math skills more thoroughly, why am I continuously losing the time necessary to achieve this goal? I am increasingly frustrated, and I often hark to the words uttered by a National Board-certified elementary teacher in Florida: “Get Out of My Room and Leave Me Alone!”