Suicide Scores?

An L.A. teacher’s published test scores are cited as a contributing factor in his apparent suicide. Is it possible that publishing his test scores and labeling him below average helped push him over the edge? Possibly. I don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that teaching is more stressful than ever before, and taking on the toughest students in a school will not lead to the best test scores. This could unfairly label highly effective students.

I have a girl in my Sophomore English class right now who attends class; she does very little work, but she attends every day. According to her Freshman English teacher, this is a marked improvement and she complimented me on keeping her attending. She called it a step in the right direction.

While I don’t think I am the reason she attends, I do think she and I are slowly building a positive rapport. Will it be enough to make her care, try, and succeed? Maybe.

Regardless, she will not win me any effective teacher points on a state test.

9 thoughts on “Suicide Scores?

    1. drpezz Post author

      If his suicide was in any way related to the published scores, that’s an absolute tragedy.

      The more we go this direction in education, the less likely I see teachers willing to take on the most difficult students. There’s little upside.

  1. Cheryl

    Regarding your student: therein lies the problem. I had a student a few years back who had horrific behavior problems. We spent the year getting him settled down and just able to function in a classroom setting. Did his scores go up? No, not that year. But they went up substantially the next year, because he’d learned how he needed to listen and do his work before the academic improvement could fully kick in. Perhaps that will be the case for your student. A teacher’s job is complicated, and we build on each other’s work. That just doesn’t always show up in test scores.

  2. Melissa

    I have typically been assigned to work with many special education students and students with significant behavior problems or learning/educational deficiencies. It’s hard to know, especially as a new teacher, how to create real progress for students years behind in reading comprehension skills, etc. And, as your reader noted, progress isn’t always seen right away OR even measured by a standardized test. (In my school, the students least able to take and pass that kind of test are the ones tested most often…)

  3. Jordan

    The idea of working with “difficult students” fills me with dread. It seems like working with students that have been so labeled is the quickest route to teacher burn-out. Not because the kids are “bad,” but because you have so little freedom in how and what you can teach and so few options for assessment. I get the impression that, really, there’s no way to win–your best will never be good enough.

    1. drpezz Post author

      I would propose to you that all you can do is your best. If anyone bases his/her self-worth or feelings of accomplishment on the students’ products or growth, he/she is in trouble from the start.

      I definitely celebrate my successes but I also recognize that my best may not be enough. The attempt is what I focus on. I do all that is in my power, but I also have to focus on that which I control.

      Maybe I’m too pragmatic…


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