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RE: NOT teaching to the test

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From: Sears, Ellen (ESears_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Oct 14 2004 - 07:06:13 PDT


boy this is timely... our state scores were released yesterday, published in
the paper today. I feel for the teachers that work hard, do the best for
the kids, and yet the scores don't represent the whole picture. Our state
assessments are so close to what is needed for NCLB, we only have to add
some questions to the 3rd and 6th grade versions. We have been using a
version of the CATS test for over 10 years, one of the first states to
implement such an assessment. We have had sanctions and rewards. Schools
in crisis, schools in decline. Arts and Humanities are state assessed in
the 5th and 8th grade - and in high school. Good and bad - arts an
humanities in schools that never would have looked at those subjects before,
but questioning the delivery sometimes.

I really feel for teachers that have to document, justify, surrender,
compromise all in the name of the test. I have seen schools with 80 item
checklists addresses areas of need, valid tools for classroom assessments
reported to central office every 6 weeks (inappropriate use), arts and PE
teachers pulled from the schedule to score open responses, bubbling,
bubbling, bubbling - for what? Unbelievable amounts of money purchasing
'how to' guides for the tests - analysis of the results, and quick fixes...
but no money for supplies or enrichment. Multiple choice - knowledge
regurgitation? The state's 4th graders work on writing portfolios at the
cost of other subjects - there are schools that teach only subjects in
grades that are assessed...

Is accountability a good thing? Sure. Our students are phenomenal writers
- exposed to more types of great writing, better vocabularies, great
communication skills. Arts in the elementary schools, great! Lots of
pluses, but I feel so sorry for teachers that are told specifically what to
do, how to do it, when to do it - all on the same page. New programs,
initiatives, buzz words.

I really admire the principal in the article that kept other programs going
while trying to juggle the bubbling syndrome. I wish there were more like
her.

Ellen in KY

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