Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

What Highly Qualified Really Means

My district has a language arts pacing guide this year. Along with the daily pace, we are required to keep a bulletin board showing theme, title, genre, comprehension strategies and skills, vocabulary, and the specific standards being taught. Another board has to sort all spelling words into word patterns for the year; but we're not allowed to call it a "word wall" because, or so I'm told, "Houghton Mifflin doesn't want us to." It's a word pattern board.

Heaven forbid that I should do something that Houghton Mifflin doesn't approve of.

I've already discussed the difficulty with differentiation under this sort of system. The administrative response: I may not stray from whatever is in the Teacher's Manual for the story for that week...period.

It's yet to be seen how much extra time each week will be given to maintaining the boards. We've already had an administrator come around with a camera; he's documenting compliance. As well as documenting it in the plan book and with what is going on in the room, of course. If we did everything in the pacing plan every day, we'd be spending 3 hours a day on Houghton Mifflin Language Arts.

I find it interesting that the district in question here is more concerned with "coverage" than with actual learning. At least, that's the emphasis I'm reading. I'm also a little puzzled by the "covering
required material" part. I would think that the required material would be the standards, not a commercially published text book series. The text is supposed to be a tool; one of many tools. It isn't the "curriculum." The curriculum is, or should be imo, the standards and frameworks.

I wonder, if they cared to look, if they could connect the dots between high poverty levels and kids who weren't able to get through the whole textbook because they simply weren't ready to. As a teacher, should my focus be on "coverage" and "pacing," or should it be ok to spend more time where there is an obvious need?

What will result in the best net gain of learning by the end of the year; a pace that matches the students, or students who have to keep to the "schedule?"

I already know one teacher who has left the profession rather than put up with this, two who are planning early retirement, and 3 who are pursuing a 2nd masters to take them out of education altogether.

I guess "highly qualified" now means "unable to make professional choices about instruction." Or "willing to be standardized."

— A teacher who must remain anonymous




This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.