Sunday, March 24, 2013

Teaching THROUGH the Tests

A post on my Facebook news feed led me to this teacher blog post and it made me think of an incident that occurred in my classroom (then 10th grade all day long) last year.  I had a student have a panic attack in my class after the state standardize testing that day.  I repeat:  I had a student have a panic attack after (and I would hazard a guess, because, of) state standardize testing.

Public Education has been freaking out over these tests more and more in the seven years I've been teaching.  People who do not know much about education, yet have the power to make decisions about education, have decided that just about everything should ride on the results of these tests.  A teacher should be measured on his or her worth, or the new jargon, Value Added Measure (VAM), because how much value is added to a child's education by a teacher is easily calculated by how well a student does on what is usually a poorly written multiple choice test (please don't make me explain verbal irony to you; if it wasn't blatantly obvious to you in that statement, read this definition). 

The value that was added to my education as I went through the public school system (cough, cough) thirteen(ish) years ago had nothing to do with how well my standardized tests scores where (and they were pretty good, but they always had been so there wasn't much more value that my teachers could add).  It had to do with the ones that cared and nurtured me in a myriad of different ways (even those that taught me how to handle rejection and move on).

When students are having panic attacks and having violent episodes because of the stresses of taking these standardized tests, something must be done.  Adding higher stakes to these tests is NOT one of them.

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