Testing – not sure there is anything new to say about it. As a country we spend to much time and money on it. (In my mind that is a given in this discussion.) My current part time job is to assist one school as they navigate the waters of each test.
- the fall check in
- the mid winter check and practice for spring tests
- the test for our English Language Learners
- then the biggie the spring state reading, math and science test
These are the big computer tests that I track. Then there are the smaller classroom assessments that teachers do as they complete a unit or assessments at the beginning of a unit to see what students know and need to know.
I can see reasons for all of it – kind of! My wondering is this – in the dark ages when I was in elementary school I can only remember a few tests. We always had spelling tests, math fact tests, and end of math unit tests. There was always the state test in the spring for reading and math. Some how we made it through. We learned, the teachers appeared to know what to teach and the system moved forward.
I understand there were places where schools did not work so well. There were places then and now where students did not move forward but I don’t think the lack of tests was the problem. I wonder if the issues came from the lack of respect for the students and/or lack of respect for teachers and what it took/takes to do this job.
Did districts hold everyone accountable to the same standards? Does holding people accountable have to mean give students tests? Did we put in place a system that reached the needs of each teacher and each student?
With all the testing have things changed? Are we supporting teachers where they need it and students where they need it? If so is it because we are testing?
Have we maybe learned the importance of scaffolding learning for everyone? Are we finally calling out a system that has capped so many students because of poverty and race?
I don’t have big answers just lots of questions. I know we are better as teachers now then long ago. I know we understand the nature of learning more – we know more about how the brain works.
All this said I just wonder if we had teachers who respected all students and teachers who felt respected for their work if we would see a difference over time.
(I am aware I have over simplified this issue but it is what kept running around in my head today as I worked with 5th grade ELL students on a speaking test on the computer. Amazing and weird all at the same time.)
Respect, care and scaffolding to the needs of the learner no matter who they are and no matter where they are in the learning cycle!