Here is another fabulous guest post. I’m wondering if I’ll ever need to write another blog post myself.

Names are changed because public exposure of government idiocy and our collective apathy-based ignorant judgement of public schools can have repercussions.

//informed commentary

… Standardized tests should be a snapshot only – one way of many ways of measuring a child’s progress over the course of a school year. Not to mention the fact that the politicians/public do not do longitudinal studies. That is to say that they look at the performance of my students each year and evaluate me on how this year’s students compare to last year’s students. They should, instead, be measuring the scores of the students I teach this year compared to the scores they were given last year to see if there has been growth.

Additionally, there is little room for recognizing growth in a student with special needs because they are required to take the same grade level test as students without special needs, even if they began the year three or four grade levels behind. Every year I have students who have made tremendous growth, but their entire year comes down to one score, and often they ‘fail’ in the eyes of whomever is reading the scores. I have had children every year whose scores have increased by 30 or more points from the previous year to the current year, yet because the score is below the magic number, it is reported as a failure for both of us.

Even worse, though, is that if you are in a small, high performing district, which I am, funding becomes ever more tricky as you increase your overall performance. If I have 5 students with special needs one year and one ‘fails’ then my passing rate is 80%. If I have 4 students the next year and one fails, my passing rate is 75%. This year I have 2 students with special needs – you can see where this is going. Add to that if I have 98% ‘passing’ rate one year and I don’t increase it the next year, I have not met the adequate yearly progress numbers. If there are 112 students in the grade this year, and only 98 students next year, I may not meet AYP because, looking only at percentages, 1 child out of 112 is a smaller percentage than 1 child out of 98. I agree that students’ learning, understanding, and performance need to be measured. I agree that the test as a measure is a good tool, but it should NOT be the ONLY tool!

Every time this subject comes up, there are those who, without knowing me, my experience, my work ethic, are quick to call me lazy and ineffective. It’s gotten to the point where it’s not even worth it to try to explain why I hate standardized tests and politicians getting involved in making educational policy. My record as far as test scores go is exemplary – I have had my students perform at a 95% passing rate or better every year since these tests have been given, and have had 6 or 7 years with 100% passing rates. I could walk around pounding my chest and demanding merit pay, but I do not, and it’s not because I am a martyr. It is because my proudest moments have nothing to do with high test scores.

I started to write a comment, but I couldn’t get it all in…

I agree with everything Ingrid has said. Standardized tests should be a snapshot only – one way of many ways of measuring a child’s progress over the course of a school year. Not to mention the fact that the politicians/public do not do longitudinal studies. That is to say that they look at the performance of my students each year and evaluate me on how this year’s students compare to last year’s students. They should, instead, be measuring the scores of the students I teach this year compared to the scores they were given last year to see if there has been growth.

Additionally, there is little room for recognizing growth in a student with special needs because they are required to take the same grade level test as students without special needs, even if they began the year three or four grade levels behind. Every year I have students who have made tremendous growth, but their entire year comes down to one score, and often they ‘fail’ in the eyes of whomever is reading the scores. I have had children every year whose scores have increased by 30 or more points from the previous year to the current year, yet because the score is below the magic number, it is reported as a failure for both of us.

Even worse, though, is that if you are in a small, high performing district, which I am, funding becomes ever more tricky as you increase your overall performance. If I have 5 students with special needs one year and one ‘fails’ then my passing rate is 80%. If I have 4 students the next year and one fails, my passing rate is 75%. This year I have 2 students with special needs – you can see where this is going. Add to that if I have 98% ‘passing’ rate one year and I don’t increase it the next year, I have not met the adequate yearly progress numbers. If there are 112 students in the grade this year, and only 98 students next year, I may not meet AYP because, looking only at percentages, 1 child out of 112 is a smaller percentage than 1 child out of 98. I agree that students’ learning, understanding, and performance need to be measured. I agree that the test as a measure is a good tool, but it should NOT be the ONLY tool!

Every time this subject comes up, there are those who, without knowing me, my experience, my work ethic, are quick to call me lazy and ineffective. It’s gotten to the point where it’s not even worth it to try to explain why I hate standardized tests and politicians getting involved in making educational policy. My record as far as test scores go is exemplary – I have had my students perform at a 95% passing rate or better every year since these tests have been given, and have had 6 or 7 years with 100% passing rates. I could walk around pounding my chest and demanding merit pay, but I do not, and it’s not because I am a martyr. It is because my proudest moments have nothing to do with high test scores.

I have had 7 former students become teachers and tell me that it was partially my influence that led them to choose this profession. I have been invited to college graduations of students in whom I believed so fiercely that they credited my refusal to give up on them as one of the reasons they went to college at all. I have former students regularly seek me out on facebook or via email to give me updates on their lives. I have pushed students to do what they never imagined they could and have hooted and hollered when they surpassed everyone’s expectations. I have high fived the student who made a 50 point increase in his NJ ASK score from 7th grade to 8th grade, even though the letter that his parents received in the mail told them that he had not met satisfactory levels of learning; his score increase is the highest one-year increase I have EVER seen. I have been blown away at the confidence level increase of students I’ve coached through oral reports and debates. That is what matters to me. That is why I teach. That is what cannot be measured by a standardized test. That is what the politicians are attempting to quantify. What they fail to realize is that by attempting to quantify humanity, they are removing what draws the natural teacher to teach: passion, love, dedication, and are replacing it with the very things that they state they are trying to eliminate: complacency, inadequacy, and disdain for learning.

That’s my soapbox speech for the day…thanks for letting me vent

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