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Article published November 5, 2012
Mars survey useless
Peter Black, Pittsburgh Science teacher Mars High School
Just the other day, the cash-strapped Mars School District spent $2,000 on a survey that, by its own curriculum, is absolutely without value. In fact, according to the approved curriculum, a “voluntary response survey” is one of the most unreliable and invalid methods for collecting data. Page 24 of the Statistics text used in the high school reads, “Voluntary responses would be very questionable to generalize to the entire population” because “voluntary response surveys over represent people with strong opinions.” It continues by stating “the way data is gathered may produce hidden bias.” While clearly ineffective at collecting reliable data, the survey might, unfortunately, be very effective at its primary objective: damaging reputations of Mars teachers. It accomplishes this by advancing a number of misconceptions that bear no resemblance to the reality of an effective school district. Survey items that identify teacher pay with 188 days of work continue to advance the lie that teachers work from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. only from September until June. If teachers truly adhered to the contract, the effects on the school district would be devastating. Laboratories, homework, advanced-placement classes, innovative curricula, tutoring and in-depth assessments would disappear. If the school board is ignorant of the true nature of a teacher’s daily and yearly work, there is no excuse for that negligence. I am afraid, instead, that this is just another effort to attack teachers, and, most unfortunate of all, it comes from those who should be our partners in education: the superintendent of the school district and the school board.