Ah Springtime, the time of flowers peeking their heads through the soil, longer days and testing. This week we start the task of testing our students rather than teaching them. Long days sitting silently in their chairs with a computer on their desk. It takes war room strategies similar to any good government endeavor. Positioning staff and students in varied locations and don't forget the monitors who assure only one student is in a bathroom at a time. No time for clinical counseling, speech, or physical therapy. They will have to take a pass while testing is the priority.
Earlier this month our state decided that with PARCC and Maps we could eliminate EOC~end of course exams. Within a week they had reconsidered and made the EOCs manditory once more. The good news is my students in special ed are also tested every three years with a full battery of testing downtown. So I am confident we have a clear picture of what we should teach when we aren't testing.
Students are the heroes in all of this nonsense. Most do their best on our relentless tests and are not even grumpy about it. We are doing a great job of creating compliant kiddos who care about their teacher's evaluations. This is really what testing has become. A teacher centered task to judge with a score if a teacher is doing their job.
Education has evolved. When I started teaching we were told never to teach to the test. Children were lamps to be lit not vessels to be filled. Those days are gone. We teach to the test. Stop teaching for the test. Convince parents and students that it is all about the test. Then agonize waiting for the results of the test.
Parents are allowed to opt their students out of the test. What will they do if they aren't taking the tests like everyone else? All energy and staff are involved in testing so you can bet there won't be staff available to educate during testing. Besides how can a student compete in the long run if they don't sit beside their peers getting experience with all this testing.
I know this is a negative even bitter post. As you can tell I am extremely frustrated. My students are so excited reading To Kill A Mockingbird and studying World War I, I hate that I have to pause learning to test. Our conversations and vocabulary building are on a roll. They are embracing learning and working together. That is the education that prepares them for life. Connecting their reading and history to their lives, their world. Comparing the then and now and exploring how society has improved and where we have gone wrong.
Teaching is my passion~testing not so much.