A conversation on FB with a teacher:
SL: Response to another’s comment:By the way, the long standing notion of good teacher in our schools has been of an obedient worker programmed by experts to follow the directions, without question, of some higher authority. Really, doing such does not require much other than being able and willing to follow directions, this not constituting truly professional activity. Those questioning authority often find themselves rooted out by the official evaluation systems in place, amongst them their students’ scores on standardized tests, the outcomes measured used to mandate thoughtless on the part of teachers and students
Deanna Fine: Word. Just ONE reason I quit teaching. Teachers do not give standardized test only at the end of the year. In k-2 they are given in the form of MAPS tests three times a year. Then in 3-5 there is also the SBAC. We spent hours analyzing test scores throughout the year to determine who were the “bubble kids”. These are students around the 50th percentile who could be bumped over to the 60th if we focused more on them in class. Students who fell below had some other interventions because they were soooo low; but the message we were given is, “You don’t need to worry about them so much because they won’t pass the test anyways.” Similarity, students who excelled in the test were also left out because “We know they’ll pass already.” So out of a class of about 22, we were encouraged to put most of our energy into about 7 students so they could pass the test. Now, I’m not saying that standardized tests don’t measure academic achievement to some degree. They certainly do. Still, I was clearly judged by how many of my students were “successful” on these tests. They pit teachers against one another, and make school a drudgery.
SL: Yes, and yes again and it is time that such testimony be made public in a very public way. You were teaching to the system, to demonstrate increases in the rate of success rather than teaching to insure that all students would grow their intellectual abilities to the fullest, those intellectual abilities not the concern of most of the tests they were taking to demonstrate “academic” success. No concern for individuality, differences among people in terms of preferences and ways of demonstrating both knowledge and thought. Those tests do measure “academic success” as defined by the test makers making “academic success” a measure of willingness to obey, conform, take in what is told without considering much its meaning or its veracity. Sorry that what should be the most exciting work in the universe was made drudgery by the system.