Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Tests Will Not Decide our Fates
The pressure continues to mount on our teachers and students in public schools. The pressure surrounds a system that measures the wrong things in the wrong way, and a system that focuses too little on measuring creativity, innovation and perseverance. The results of this pressure are clear. They show up in parent newsletters in March and April as students are told to eat right and get sleep for the tests. They show up in the energy level of teachers after the testing season is over. They show up in the marquee signs in front of school reminding folks to "Shhh. We're testing." Many of these things have become annual rituals that we no longer question. For many young teachers, this is all that they know. They were a part of the system as a student, and they are well on the way to perpetuating this system on their students.
Each year, I'm brought back to some questions surrounding testing. If you could guarantee fresh successes for students outside of test scores, then would you be willing to sacrifice some portion of your test score success? Would hiring good people, supporting them in their growth and development, and having an active, engaging curriculum have the same exact impact on your scores with no mention or preparation for the tests? Who will be the first public school to just say no more state testing?
Lately, I've added a new one. Can we ever standardize enough to get the benefits of standardization?
Let's go into the summer with a hope and possibility that we will all be able to have more space to inspire kids to learn and engage kids in those things in which we are passionate.
We should not as educators allow our fate to be decided by the culture of testing.