As we come up on the sacred End of Grade testing next week, kids are scared, teachers are stressed, and administrators are sweating in our building. I just don’t get it. Just yesterday, a veteran teacher whose children spend hours on Study Island, Accelerated Math, and other test prep activities, stated, “they [admin] don’t understand, a year of my teaching is in these tests!” I immediately thought, how sad for your students.
I continually think about a statement made, I believe by Bill Ferriter on an old post at his Tempered Radical blog. He stated something similar to the idea that he would rather have the lowest test grades on his hall, but know he was teaching his students how to be true learners! I have thought about that idea throughout this year as I plan for my students. I would hate to think that my year’s work could remotely be measured by three days of agonizing multiple choice tests created by the state department.
My year’s work probably won’t be measured for many years to come as my students continue to learn and grow. As they apply some of the higher level thinking, creating, collaborating skills we journeyed with throughout the year. No, my measuring stick is not the EOG’s. For proof of my kids’ growth, I would rather someone look at the website we maintained throughout the year with many of our videos, photos, activities. I would rather someone take a look at our Google map of our Skype sessions with other schools and experts. I would rather someone take a look at the kids’ science wikis. No they are not as full of the kids’ rich learning as I would like, but it’s a start. I have begun to climb out of the crysalis of my teaching transformation and see more clearly what I desire as a true measure of OUR year’s work as a group of learners.
As long as we use test scores as our primary evidence for being poorly educated we reinforce the connection—and the bad teaching to which it leads. If by some course of action we could get everyone’s score the same—even by cheating—I’d be for it, so we could get on to discussing the interactions that matter in classrooms and schools: between “I, Thou, and It.” I’ve spent 45 years trying, unsuccessfully, to shift the discussion to schools as sites for learning. Such a “conversation” might not produce economic miracles, but it would over time connect schooling to the kind of learning that can protect both democracy and our economy. Because that’s where schools are (or are not) powerful.
How do YOU measure your year’s work?
Flickr Photo Credit – Chrysalis Butterfly Emergence