Thursday, February 27, 2014

Here is what Education Hell looks like

Chicago is getting ready for a standardized test called the ISAT. Here's a 1 minute video of an Inservice session to help teachers prep for "The Vocabulary Matrix".

I have four quick points:

1. Roller coaster of emotions. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions as I watched this apocalyptic video. First, I was in shock. I couldn't believe this was happening. Second, I was angry. I couldn't imagine sitting in that classroom chanting without speaking up or walking out. Third, I was profoundly sad. If this is the nature of education reform and the future of our schools then I want nothing to do with it. Lastly, I am energized and hopeful. The only thing that cancerous education policies and practices need to survive is for good teachers to say and do nothing. Silence is not only assent to these soul-sucking test and punish practices -- silence is also betrayal to our democracy, public education and ultimately our children. This is why I'm attending the Network for Public Education Conference this weekend in Austin, Texas.

2. This is not Professional Development. This is at best a very poor inservice. Professional development is for professionals to determine their own growth and learning. This is precisely why teachers need a powerful Union that has a strong Professional Association focus to make sure that teachers have control over their own professional learning.

3. Teaching or testing? Teaching to the test and excessive test preparation invalidates inferences that can be drawn from the scores – yet they are the inevitable response to pressure to produce good test scores. Classroom time is devoured by not only the tests themselves but also practice tests, pre- and post-tests, field tests for the tests, benchmark tests, teacher tests, district tests, and state or provincial tests. Because testing is not teaching, this ultimately leads to a loss of opportunities for students to have a broad range of educational experiences, and the first things to go usually end up being the arts and physical activity – which do not lend themselves to be easily tested.

4. This is not how to teach children to read. Things are at their worst when we associate learning to read with taking a test. If you want to see what learning to read looks like, check out this post.

One last bonus horror: Is this being done to the teachers to encourage them to return to their classrooms and do exactly this to their students?


  1. Please tell me this is a Jimmy Kimmel type prank...please...

    This is not education.

  2. Awful. Reaffirms my hatred of standardised testing.

  3. surely this is a spoof???

  4. this is surely a spoof? As a veteran teacher I cannot believe this is real.....

  5. Wrong, this does not show need for unions, this shows needs for competition and getting government out of education completely (and out of health care and infrastructure and retirement and everything for that matter).

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  7. Love how she says 'we are going to use GRADE appropriate' rather than what is appropriate for individual students.


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