Tag Archives: Nancy Almasi

Added Pay Won’t Make Teachers Want to Stay in Bad Teaching Environments

by Nancy Almasi

Abby Zwerner, the Newport News teacher shot by a 6-year-old student a year ago, doubts she will ever return to teaching. In addition to her lingering injuries and psychological trauma, Zwerner is suing the Newport News School District for ignoring multiple warnings that the student had a gun and was prone to violence. The local school board tried to block the suit from going forward, arguing that the teacher was only entitled to worker’s compensation. A judge disagreed, and the suit is moving forward.

While this is an extreme example, teachers across the Commonwealth and the country have been quitting in droves. Sadly, the lingering effects from the pandemic have only made matters worse. USA Today reported that teachers have joined the “Great Resignation,” as student behavior has become their number-one complaint.

One former teacher noted that emotional outbursts from students have become commonplace. She also noted that she was forced to cover for other teachers due to staff shortages — limiting her ability to connect with her students and eating into her planning time. She ended up quitting in the middle of the school year – a catastrophe for her students and fellow teachers. “It got so bad,” she said, ‘’I was very overwhelmed and stressed. I was anxious and tired all the time.” Continue reading

Dartmouth Reinstated the SAT. Will Virginia Universities Follow Suit?

by Nancy Almasi

Dartmouth College is making news regarding its return to using the SAT/ACT scores once again as a part of its admissions process. The policy will become effective in 2025 for the incoming class of 2029.

Many colleges and universities decided to make the SAT/ACT test optional during the COVID-19 pandemic when health protocols made taking these tests more difficult for students. This came on the heels of many years of pressure from those who believe that SAT and ACT tests are biased towards those who are wealthy and/or white, arguing that those who can afford SAT prep classes, tutoring, and books have an unfair advantage.

Dartmouth’s policy reversal came as the result of a faculty study prepared by three economists and one sociologist. The professors compared the admissions data from the years when the standardized tests were optional with the data when the tests were required. They concluded that the scores were helpful in finding well-rounded, academically prepared students from diverse backgrounds.

Dartmouth President Sian Leah Birlock wrote the following in her email to the Dartmouth campus about the policy change.

SAT and ACT scores reflect inequality in society and in educational systems across the nation. The research does not dispute that. Crucially, though, the research shows that standardized test scores can be an important predictor of academic success at a place like Dartmouth and beyond—more so even than just grades or recommendations, for example—and with a test-optional policy, prompted by the pandemic, we were unintentionally overlooking applicants from less-resourced backgrounds who could thrive here.

Continue reading