I’m at a loss. State testing is over…for now. Each year, I reflect on the testing process, and each year, I become frustrated. I know, I know…you are tired of hearing teachers rant about standardized testing. Here’s the thing…I’m not against giving students a test; I’m against HOW they are tested and what they are being tested on for our state standardized test.
In a society where we hear about 21st century skills and world-class education on a daily basis, why are we still testing like it’s 1999? Imagine spending the school year where you teach your students to be creative. I encourage them to use their critical thinking skills, collaborate with their partners, and don’t forget to communicate their thinking to others; it’s even better if they can communicate globally with other people across the world. Then imagine handing those same students a reading/writing booklet that is over 80 pages long, with a pencil, while making sure that they are sitting in rows, and don’t forget that their telephone (and yours) has to be a in a separate room. We also make sure that testing is completed in three days (9 tests), so that it doesn’t detract from their education, and don’t forget the time limit for each test. Oh wait, one more thing, the students are tested on information that the teacher has only had seven months to cover.
So, my students, I apologize. Agonizing over whether I will be evaluated on your results, but not changing my teaching philosophy, I apologize for not testing you on how I taught you to learn. Can you annotate the text while you read? No, sorry; you can’t write in the book, except “on the lines.” Can you talk through your thoughts with your partner first? No, sorry. Can you look up a great quote so that you have an interesting introduction? No, sorry. Can you use your phone to look up the word on the test that you don’t understand? No, sorry, and I’m sorry, but I can’t answer any of your questions either.
Students, were you tested on how to write and give a great presentation proposal or to write a strong debate speech? I don’t think so, but I’m not allowed to see the test, nor am I allowed to see what you still need to work on for the rest of the year. Yes, you AND I will have to wait to see the results once you have left my classroom and your high school teacher has become your new “coach.”
So, as you can see, it’s not the fact that I have to give a test. I like knowing how my students are doing; I only wish that my students could be tested like they are the rest of the year…in a real-world setting.
My rant is over, and unfortunately, I don’t know what to do to change how our state tests are given.
I know, my students, I teach you to go out there and change the world, to be passionate, to believe in yourself, and to take risks. I only wish that I could follow my own advice.
Oh, and just for the record, my feelings do not reflect my employer’s feelings. They had nothing to do with my thoughts as a teacher. :)