The 2019-20 school year will see many revisions to credit opportunities, said director of counselling Betsy Jones. A major change is the elimination of teachers assistants, something that Jones does not foresee ever returning as an option, which is currently a popular course request with 250 teacher assistants at RBHS, according to Jones.
Jones said the original purpose of a teacher’s assistant was to alleviate growing class sizes when the school district cut teachers and also to provide students who need to fulfill Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHAA) requirements an opportunity to fill a course slot with relatively lax responsibilities.
For next year, Jones said teachers who still want teacher assistants can offer an independent study; however, it would provide no credit.
“Because there were a hand full of folks that were using them for appropriate reasons,” Jones said, “teachers who want a TA can offer an independent study. But they are not student initiated at all.”
Junior James Glaser currently serves as a teachers assistant to physics teacher Malcolm Smith. Glaser believes he’s apart of the handful of students that did a good job in carrying out the designated duties of an assistant.
“Some days are fairly busy, like if Mr. Smith’s freshmen are working with Excel I’m more focused on helping than if he’s just teaching a new thing,” Glaser said. “Mostly though, I’m able to switch between helping with the students, making copies and working on other [classwork].”
After a semester of assisting experience, Glaser understands where students could take advantage of the system and used the time not for its intended purpose; however, he still disagrees with the decision to eliminate the option altogether.
“I think that TAs are a good option so even though I understand concerns, I’m sad to see them go,” Glaser said. “I think TAs could’ve been made more rigorous by encouraging teachers to assign more tasks and make sure that students known that it’s not an automatic pass.”
Junior Sarah Keely is also a teacher’s assistant. Unlike Glaser, she agrees with Jones that the program is flawed and should go.
So far, Keely said her teacher has not given her much responsibility, so she generally uses the time as an AUT.
“I haven’t had much to do, [but] my main responsibility has been putting graded work in the grade book on schoology and on paper,” Keely said.
Entering grades in the grade book is also a problem Jones said when abolishing teacher assistants. While the intention may be good, Jones said it’s “really a confidentiality issue.”
Jones said the program also presents safety liability issues such as if the student goes off campus during the time. While these are all concerns, Jones said the bottom line is most teacher assistants don’t deserve the credit.
“The kids want what is the least amount of work,” Jones said. “It’s a problem when they’re earning credit for it.”