Friday, March 28, 2014

Voices of Testing Season

Testing season is in full swing these days.  Below are some snippets of typical conversations heard during this time of the year by teacher and students:

"These kids need testing strategies to succeed.  They have no clue!"

"We were told to teach Common Core State Standards but OAKS is based on the old standards!"

"We have to retest all of those who didn't pass?  Is this under the new formula for growth or for meeting benchmark scores or not?"

"But I still have two months left to teach curriculum!  They won't know enough of the material to be tested on it!"

"We're going to interrupt our high-interest hands-on learning project to have those who didn't meet on the state test, take the test again?!  They will get behind and be left out!"

"I'm not surprised by the test results of some students; I could have told you they weren't being successful based on my assessments in class.  Why waste time with a high-stakes test?"

"Sorry you didn't meet benchmark, but you grew so much!  You did great, don't feel bummed!  You should be proud of your efforts." (as students' faces turn grim)

"I feel like such a failure."

"Why are the assessments you as a professional teacher not good enough when it comes evaluating  the success of your students?"

"State testing started today. Ugh."

"Those on the outside look at these test results and see failure."

"I am not taking time out of teaching to teach test prep."

"Have you looked at your data strands?"

Imagine what we could be hearing from students and teachers instead such as, "This is such a fun project!" or "I love this science experiment!" or  "Enjoy your book!" or "My students and I are having an amazing time learning about math this week!"

What version do we want for our kids and teachers?  Time to silence the voices of fear, worry, and shame, and instead, replace them with voices of joy, curiosity, and inspiration.

One way is to and send the message that high-stakes testing has no place in our public education system. Another way is to join to ask Congress for hearings into the overuse and abuse of high-stakes testing.

Anthony Cody of TNPE also recently wrote as a response to a reader of his blog about what one can do, and he responded:

"You ask what we can do to turn this around.

I am putting my energy into the Network for Public Education, which is working to support candidates willing to defend public education. We are obviously going to be outspent every time, but if we can get people informed and energized, the power of money can be defeated.

Students are organizing nationally through a group called Students United for Public Education.

There is a gathering of student activists in Los Angeles this weekend -- check them out here:

There are people organizing around Opting Out of standardized tests -- see here:

There is a group called FairTest that is fighting the buss of tests:

The folks at Rethinking Schools do a great job chronicling these issues.

And depending on where you are there may be some local or regional grassroots organizing going on. This movement is growing fast."

The time is now to take back our public schools and protect them for everyone.