Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We need more teachers like this

If you are proud of your high testsandgrades or ashamed of your low ones, you are a part of the problem.

But if those who get low testsandgrades speak up against them they are easily labelled as 'sour grapes'.

That's why those who get high testsandgrades have a responsibility to speak up and reject any accolades. Because they know that standardized tests measure what matters least. They also know that the costs of standardized testing are entirely unacceptable.

In New York, teachers are now evaluated and ranked according to their students' standardized test scores. While it's true that we should all speak out against this malpractice, it's especially important that the high scoring teachers do so.

That's why Julie Cavanagh, a teacher from Brooklyn, is so important. Cavanagh writes::
According to the numbers, I am a highly effective New York City public school teacher. But you won’t see me jumping for joy over the news.
This is one of many of ways to refuse our cooperation with test and punish accountability regimes.

Of course another method is for parents to say "Not with my child you don't".

1 comment:

  1. I am in agreement with Julie. Having been outspoken about testsandgrades, regardless of how or low my students scored, I can understand why more educators do not speak out. Responses such as "shut up and put up", that your attitude towards testsandgrades is what impacts your students' testandgrades, and even implications of cheating or improper scoring when my students scored higher (even when I am not the one administering or scoring the assessment) can wear one down. It is remarks like these that loudly send the message to educators that their opinion is of no value, that they are incapable or untrustworthy to engage in a conversation, or that their opinion only matters if their students are high scorers.

    However difficult, it is important that we as educators continue the fight against testsandgrades. For example, I now refuse to participate in any teacher activity that requires me to create additional testsandgrades for students. I am noticing a growing trend where assessments are being created for the sake of assessment. For example, an assessment to predict how students will do on future assessments or prepare them for future assessments. And then we spend an inordinate amount of time 'not' teaching to the test by embedding test-like items into our instruction because that is 'higher - level thinking'.

    In closing, there is a voice not being heard: students. Over the last few years, as assessments have increased and become a staple of a child's education since the time they enter pre-kindergarten, I have noticed more and more students speaking up. Students are writing, during writing assessments, how pointless and useless they are; even mocking the writing process and characteristics while writing the prompt ('at least I'm using inner voice). Others are stating how they hate test days because they are boring and they don't learn anything. They increasingly say how uninviting school is because they are no longer allowed to have fun. I have heard more students ask why they can't have birthday/holiday/learning celebrations, plays, etc. They have asked why someone in charge has decided that school can no longer be fun. And for primary and elementary children those are the things that are important.

    Sadly, I predict it is going to get worse before it gets better. But am hopeful when I see pockets of schools and/or districts who never once mention testsandgrades when they speak of the fabulous things their students are learning. The more schools that focus on student engagement and excitement for learning, the more testsandgrades will be pushed out.


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