Am I the only one who is getting tired of studying test data? Almost every meeting I have attended since NCLB was introduced has been about Proficiency Tests, OAT’s, or OAA’s. We have debated everything from the best techniques for prepping students to interventions for students who did not pass. This year, we are meeting weekly to study assessment results at each grade level.
Every week, teachers meet with the other teachers from their grade level to discuss their students’ progress in reading and/or math. This involves one to two meetings a week. On top of these regular meetings, we are being asked to keep ongoing records for all cumulative and formative assessment tests detailing every missed item, question by question. Then we study the most frequently missed questions to determine why we think they were so difficult for our students and how we can prepare them for these kinds of questions in the future. We will collaborate as a grade level, sharing techniques that have been effective with our students in order to improve our opportunities to be successful on this year’s OAAs. Then more testing, more evaluating, more intervening, and yada, yada, yada…
In conclusion, we spend hours looking at test questions instead of spending hours looking at students and what they really need to be successful. I have to ask myself if this is the best use of our time. Wouldn’t our time be better served looking at ways to improve our teaching, to explore creative techniques to push our children to be life-long problem solvers, to develop units that would challenge our students to use higher level thinking and develop their creativity, to share teaching strategies which have been successful in motivating our students to go above and beyond in academic areas? I resent the time we spend teaching our students to pass one test a year. Is it reasonable or reprehensible to let this one test dictate how and what we teach all year and how we spend our meeting times?
I have always contended, and I’m sure most teachers would agree, that this test is not an accurate measure of a student’s ability to be successful. But when so much emphasis is placed upon these tests, we send the message that we believe in the validity of these tests as opposed to the validity of what our students show us they can do daily.
I, for one, am tired. Tired of giving in to the demands that I believe are crippling our public schools, our teachers, and our children. Yet, if I want to keep my job, I am bound by this system, as we all are. So, I keep doing what I am told to do, but I am beginning to feel as though I am caught in a nightmare, and I can’t seem to wake up. What about you?