An excellent open letter by two outstanding 1st grade teachers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, defending their decision to stop giving two of the state-mandated assessments to their students.
This is one of the most concise, understandable, realistic explanations of the “on the ground” effects of high-stakes testing on the classroom environment. The drive to assess! test! measure! quantify! is driving excellent teachers from the classroom who cannot, in good conscience, grind their students down under practices like this.
If you care at all about the education system, whether you have kids in the public schools or not, I urge you to read this, do your own research, and start making some noise.
–Send a copy to your legislators (both state and federal).
–Call the school board members for your district and encourage them to lobby for change at the district and state levels.
–Support teachers in your area who choose to buck the high-stakes testing pressures. They could lose their jobs, but with vocal parent support, they have a chance.
–Insist that your state pay teachers well. This is a profession that demands a master’s degree, a high level of skill and training, and countless hours of work. When school is out, teachers are still working. Reward good teachers.
Kids feel like school is a prison. We aren’t creating 21st century innovators and critical thinkers; we’re destroying kids’ will to learn by testing them to death. We’re reducing teachers to mindless drones, stripped of any autonomy or professional standing.
OK, I’ll stop ranting. Seriously though — read the entire piece not just my excerpt (it’s not long) and then DO something.
We understand the need for assessments. We want to progress monitor our students in order to meet their differentiated teaching needs. We value data. However, we went to college for an understanding on how to do this. We both build in-depth, all-encompassing portfolios that are a TRUE picture of the growth of our students. These portfolios do not just show math and literacy, they also show growth in cognitive development, writing, understandings of every state standard, art, identity of self, science, social studies, social-emotional development, and more. We do these portfolios so that we can have an accurate measure of each child across every domain. We have authentic assessments, off-the-shelf scholarly assessments, summative assessments, and formative assessments; all of which are paired with some sort of work sample or media documentation. Believe us, we know where our students are.