Part II of II: Teacher Perspectives on the Resident Educator Summative Assessment
I’m getting to a place where I can look back nostalgically on twenty years in the classroom — back to the days when I was 22, teaching in Adelanto, California, and couldn’t get used to people calling me “Mr. Greenberg,” — a time when I rushed through my lunch in the teacher’s lounge, so I could go play pick-up basketball with the kids.
I don’t gloss over those early years of my career. There were plenty of challenges that made me wonder if I would be able to make it as a teacher.
However, I think the challenges facing today’s early career educators make mine seem laughable. And of all of today’s challenges that I am grateful I avoided, RESA (Resident Educator Summative Assessment) is at the top of the list.
When I graduated from Kent State in 1997, I took two Praxis tests to get my teaching license. That was it. I was official! As for additional requirements from the state, there was nothing more for me to do. As long as my principal was happy with my performance, I could continue teaching.
Compare that to today: a four year Resident Educator program with rules, and meetings, and videotaping, and student work samples, and on and on, all while young teachers are trying to get a handle on day-to-day lesson delivery. Wouldn’t it be better for kids if their teachers didn’t have to worry about the redundant RESA process?
I say redundant because these early career educators had plenty of tasks like RESA to complete during their student teaching experience. If they completed them satisfactorily then, why are they having to prove themselves to a testing company and the state once again?
Now I know that RESA went through an overhaul over the summer. For a while, some first and second year teachers were checking with me every day, hoping the whole program would be eliminated. But somehow — through a process that might best be communicated by a “School House Rock” cartoon — we ended up with a revised form of RESA that, among other changes, significantly cuts down on the tasks a third year RESA teacher must submit to the state.
Are my young colleagues and I jumping for joy? No. Not really.
Sure, we are glad to see a reduction in required tasks. Sure, we are glad that more of the RESA program is controlled at the local district level. We know it is a step in the right direction. However, it’s still a program that we see as mostly redundant and unnecessary.
For me, I see RESA changes like standardized testing changes. I’m glad the state has reduced the number of tests students must take, but do I think the state has fixed the problem of over-testing students? Absolutely not.
RESA is still a burden on local school districts. The cost to my district, just to facilitate year 3 of the Resident Educator Program, will be $15,000 this year. That may not be a huge percentage of our budget, but it is one more thing to pay for instead of other programs.
RESA will continue to frustrate educators, whether for its lack of timely, detailed feedback on assessments, or its illogical requirements for teachers shifting between old and new RESA requirements.
For example: Last year a teacher failed one section of her third year RESA tasks. She failed the section because the student work she submitted was deemed illegible by the evaluator. By Ohio law, she could not resubmit a clearer copy. This year, according to the revised RESA process, instead of having to redo the task, she’ll get mentoring at the local level to help her in that area. However, the only reason she didn’t pass had nothing to do with her competency as a teacher. What kind of mentoring can she possibly receive to address this issue?
On the subject of mentoring, I realize that keeping the RESA requirement for local school districts to provide mentors is a positive thing. I can’t imagine what I would have done without a veteran teacher working with me almost every day, helping me with curriculum and lesson delivery.
My hope for new teachers is that the Resident Educator program continues to evolve into something that truly helps them grow as professionals, instead of something cumbersome and frustrating. I want them to be able to look back in 20 years, with a sense of nostalgia for the beginning of their career, not with a shudder and shiver down their spine, as they recall the hoops they jumped through to complete the Resident Educator program.
Learn more about changes to Ohio’s Resident Educator Program