Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tests: The Silent Killer

I write to you outside the normal schedule today because I am outraged.  I'm at the brink of tears because I'm sad, and angry.  I ache for these children, yes children, and what they have to endure so that some company can make $44 million.  Yes, that's right folks, that's how much you are paying in tax dollars so someone can torture, belittle, and crush your kids.  I read this inspiring and devastating post by a Brooklyn public school teacher about how valuable play is to learning.  As I read, I felt the warmth of sunshine on my face after days of being chained to a desk.  I felt the students' overwhelming joy as they were released from their desks.  Now, all of this information is specific to NYC, but I'm sure you will have no problem sharing your personal experience in the comments section.  I hear story after story of teachers who are defeated, children who hate learning, and for what?  $44 million?  These tests are killing our students.  At least, they are killing the part of our students that wants to learn.

I empathize with the school system and their desire to hold teachers accountable.  After all, I've met good teachers and bad teachers, and the bad ones do just as much damage as these tests.  That being said, the good ones are struggling, and many are just giving up.  According to several studies, teacher attrition has gone from 10% in 2007-2008 to 17% in 2012-2013.  That's almost 10% increase in only 5 years!

I'd like to cite another article that lists a successful low-income school and how it retained its teachers.  Leadership took a new accountability approach that involved support and motivation over threats and intimidation.  I refer you to the article I wrote about motivating rather than dictating.  It's a trickle-down effect.  If teachers are motivated, they will motivate students.  Pressured teachers produce pressured students and that's not good for anyone.

So what's the answer?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  My guess is it will involve more one-on-one accountability, where student progress is measured rather than student performance.  One thing I can promise is that we will strive every day to give you guides and resources that equip you to educate students rather than teach them a test.  Reach out if you have questions or suggestions.  This battle will not be won by individuals, but rather a collective that is focused on the betterment of our children's education.

Thank you for listening.  Soap box moment over.  On to Fun Friday :)

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