I have decided to send you a piece that I wrote on April 6, 2011 instead of writing something new. That’s how strongly I feel about this topic.
As I was reviewing a bunch of copy that I’d written in preparation for an upcoming book (yes, it’s in the works!), I came across what could possibly be the most FRUSTRATED and OUTRAGED writing I’ve ever done.
My brief article was written in response to a series of investigations about the Los Angeles Unified School District.
I’m known for telling it like it is, and I am doing just that – again. Here’s why…
…we cannot forget our responsibility
…we cannot forget the kids we serve
…we cannot forget why we chose education – or why it chose us
…we cannot forget our sense of mission by getting involved in things unrelated to our work
…we cannot forget that we can’t learn to get things right on the backs of our students
Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Times’ reports on the lack of effectiveness in teaching as a hot button topic this week and I’m glad.
I have poured over the original articles, the Union’s rebuttals and possible strike orders, Arne Duncan’s comments…but I have learned the most by reading the comments following the articles – many responses say that the tests are “unfair” and “biased” and “too narrow” and one of the most incendiary comments in my book was the Union’s statement: public disclosure of the results “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”
“Irresponsible” to be held responsible?
“Dangerous” to make public the results of what our kids are spending their time doing 180 days per school year? I’m outraged.
Question: If it’s not about the data then what is it about? If we don’t use state standardized tests to measure student performance and teacher performance and report out who has made the cut and who hasn’t, then what is the measuring stick and who is going to determine what metric the measuring stick will be this year?
After visiting hundreds of kids and working with thousands of educators, I have come to understand that teachers who are teaching their tails off don’t sweat the state test – they know their kids are going to meet benchmark.
Teachers who are teaching their tails off don’t sweat the state test – they knew early in the year who needed extra support and they gave it.
Teachers who are teaching their tails off don’t sweat the state test – they see the test as the MINIMUM requirement for their students.
Teachers who are teaching their tails off don’t sweat the state test – THEY ARE TOO BUSY TEACHING.
Jill, this is a button pusher for me. I’ve taught for a numer of years and have watched as test scores have become the all to end all of a student’s success/failure and a teacher’s success or failure in doing his/her job. All teachers, no matter how long they’ve been teaching, or how hard they teach, sweat high stakes test scores. I am a master teacher within my district, nominated teacher of the year, and have had great success in getting my students to their golden numbers (test score goals). Then again, I have always had the “high” kids (as our scores allow us to track our kids even better and place them accordingly- we just use a legal word in place of tracking) I SWEAT the test scores. It’s always in the back of my mind. I have 6 meeting a month with dean/principals to discuss “data” . Our PD’s revolve around “data” and improving “data outcomes”. Selfishly part of the sweating is based on my needs but a big part of my sweating is for my kids. I’ve seen kids perform poorly on their tests because of illness, computer glitches, stress over the test, issue at home, hunger, tiredness…all the things that we don’t take into consideration when viewing tests scores as the only way to measure our students. Who cares about all the observation notes, authentic assessments, portfolios developed…accumulated over the year. If the test score says xyz, then the student did xyz. I look at the whole student, the student’s learning intelligence (remember gardner)…The test score is part of the picture. The test score doesn’t tell you anything about my teaching ability. Our standards don’t even align with Standardized tests.
I’m off my soap box. Your question is a good one to pose.
Eve – You bring up such great points. This topic/blog has gotten lots of comments (in support and against) on Twitter and Facebook and I’m so glad that you commented here. All of your points are SO TRUE. What I struggle with daily are the teacher who think that kids are not passing the tests (many tests, not just a standardized test) and because they aren’t passing the test, the test is inaccurate and “bad”.
The alternative to “weird” (for lack of a better term) tests is not no tests or no standards. I realize you’re not saying this at all – clearly you are a very conscientious teacher whose students are her top priority.
I’ve seen so many kids who “pass” the state test after years of failure because the teacher was stellar – the teachers got down and dirty in the instruction and the delivery and results followed.
My goal is always to encourage teachers to spend their time focusing on what’s getting results and focus on driving harder and stronger in the classrooms becuase KIDS CAN DO IT! I’ve seen it – high expectations yield high results.
I’m glad you got on your soapbox! I get on mine regularly!