I do not want this blog to be one that makes particularly political statements as I am not a particularly political person. However, as a teacher I think that there are two very interesting conversations that are going on across our profession that have a large impact on the way that we do our jobs. The first conversation is about testing and how it is being used to evaluate teachers. The article, posted by the Washington Post (click here for article), cites a new study given by the Network for Public Education (click here for study) that asked teachers their opinions about student test scores and their evaluation.
Not surprisingly, teachers have some issues with this method of evaluation. Namely, these tests are harmful for those teachers who teach in low income areas or with high needs populations. I do not think that any teacher currently working in schools would disagree. As a teacher, I am all for honest evaluation and feedback that helps me to become a better educator. However, the current trend in the evaluation of teachers by my estimation is more reliant on tests such as PARCC which asks my 3rd grade students (who are working at a much lower level) some very high level questions. Not only if there lots of instructional time lost here giving the test (seven days), I do not get much information from the test to improve my own testing as I already knew that my students could not complete those questions.
Furthermore to then tie my job evaluation to these types of tests completely takes away the hidden curriculum that teachers teach every single day. These tests can not determine how I have taught my students to manage peer conflicts, or how to have a growth mindset and believe that they can learn. It doesn't evaluate how I have taught a student to stop throwing tantrums and instead talk about her problems using words, and it certainly doesn't matter the number of students who come into the class each more with smiles on their faces because they are going to get smarter today.
If someone can design a standardized test that took those factors into account then I would by all means agree to having my students take it. Until that time, please allow me to be a professional and do what is right for my students using my professional judgement. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
The other article and conversation will be coming later this week...