EL PASO — Teachers in the Ysleta Independent School District who have traditionally specialized in a particular subject may be forced to teach classes on topics they have never taught and, according to some teachers and parents, the change may be detrimental to both teaching and learning.
These changes went into effect at the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Several teachers, particularly in Riverside High School, were switched from their original teaching position into different subjects designated by the school.
Mike Martinez who has been the principal at Riverside High School for three and a half years says reassigning teachers is a positive note and not a mistake.
“Reassigning teachers in a school is based on the scores of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test that is given each year to students. If scores from the reading, math, or writing drop more than 10 points in any of these sections, teacher reassignment will most likely occur.”
If scores are low in math, he said, the assistant principal would reassign the best math teachers, who may be teaching chemistry or any other science, to teach the type of math that is given in the TAKS tests. The ones who were teaching math would be reassigned to teach in other areas, he said.
Teacher reassignment was implemented at Riverside High for the 2009-2010 school year because lasts year sophomore class dropped 17 points in math.
Some teachers such as Anne Mitchell disagree with the policy. Mitchell, who is currently an environmental science teacher at Riverside High, said she was upset when she was reassigned at the beginning of the 2009 school year to teach chemistry.
“I was very upset when I received the news I complained and complained until I was granted my original subject,” Mitchell said. “ I went to college to become a science teacher, in which I particularly specialize in environmental science even though chemistry falls in the same field.”
Although she doesn’t feel comfortable teaching the new subject yet, Mitchell said she could be partnered up with another chemistry teacher to receive instruction first.“ If I am forced to teach a different subject that isn’t environmental science, for the following 2010-2011 school year I will most likely complain again or even take matters to the next level. ”
Teachers say they may not be ready for the change, because high school teachers get used to teaching a specific subject for years. They know exactly where students have trouble and they are able to work extra on those lesson plans.
It can take months for teacher to get accustomed to prepare and teach lessons in a different subject even though the new class may fall in the same field. Some say this can affect students because the quality of the teaching would suffer.
Maria Garcia, the parent of a student who attends a high school for the YISD, claims that it is definitely going to impact what the students learn and they might not be ready to face more challenging classroom settings in college.
“Yes, I’m very concerned over my daughter’s education,” Garcia said. “If teachers are getting switched over to teaching a subject that isn’t their primary one, then how are they (the teachers) going to be able to fully teach a class, I understand its upon the results of the TASKS but why can’t they come up with a different solution?”
Juan Basurto, a math teacher from Tejas School of Choice, which is known for their alternative programs, is also concerned about having to teach another subject.
“I’m not too excited about the changes that are happening and may continue to happen,” said Basurto.” “I specialize in teaching math not chemistry even though it falls in the same science field and I’m certified, I am scared of teaching these students something I’ve never taught before, and I don’t feel the students will be getting anything out of it.”
Mitchell was able to keep her original position, but she still worries about the following school year, because she could face the same problem.
Principal Mike Martinez says, he’s still not sure if the changes will occur for the 2010-2011 school year. It all depends on this year’s TAKS results, he said.
“Schools are like small communities, said Martinez,” the teachers are in charge of teaching the students, the assistant principals oversee the teachers, and principal are like governors where they make sure procedures and guidelines are being maintained and give the final input. Now, for the Superintendent to get involved it would have to be a huge mess, but for the most part principals take care of the problem because they are in charge of their community.”