Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's Your Number? Standardized Test Scores

What's your number?

No, not the number of children that smile in your class each day.

No, not the number of children you reach with multiple strategies.

No, not the number of children you support through difficult times or social dilemmas.

No, not the number of hours your prep, plan, read, research, respond, create, and teach.

It's your standardized score number.

Do you know it?  Most of your leaders do, and you're judged by it too.

This poses a dilemma for teachers in so many ways. It's not a dilemma of wanting to teach well in creative, responsive ways.  It's not a dilemma of assessing how students are doing, and personalizing instruction to help students gain skill, knowledge, and concept.

It's a dilemma because the scores are narrow and based on a few hours of work on selected days during the years. The scores are affected by multiple factors in and out of school, yet classroom teachers and a few others are given the scores, and judged by them.  The judgements also are typically not reflective of the whole picture, data accuracy, or understanding.

There's nothing that will zap a teacher's energy more than reducing that teacher to scores, scores that are based on old fashion paper-and-pencil, sit-at-your-seat for-a-long-long-time-tests.  When you get the feeling you're a score, a number, a piece of data, you immediately begin to feel like a mindless robot, a "do-it," not a thinker, creator, nurturer, guide, or coach--just a number.

What's your score? Do you wear it on a t-shirt; do you place it on your classroom door, and is it in your teacher report card?  It won't be long before that is a reality for many teachers, a sad reality that makes me want to encourage young people to go the alternative education or private school route--a place where real teaching may still be able to exist, a place sadly where only those with means can afford to send their children.

This is a reality that is putting teachers in very difficult positions these days, positions which I'm only now becoming more aware of.  A sad day for education, a very sad day.