Monday, September 8, 2008

Testing- My Musings

This past week has had a mix of emotions and activity. There have been many successes and other things that maybe have not worked out the way that I would have liked. It is my observation that the school is a microcosm of society at large. If you think about it, there are all kinds of people in school- old, young, in between, all learning and ability levels, healthy and sick people, all different economic levels...Schools have politics, economic troubles, tragedies, failures, successes...

Those of us that are lucky to be educators or working in the schools have the power to affect the lives every day of the students. It is a daunting challenge that we have risen too. The teacher does not have the choice of who is in their class. We have no control of the family life that our students come to us with. And yet, we are given the task of making sure that our students meet all of the grade level standards that our state and federal governments have given us. Can you imagine if YOU had to have the same intelligence or know the same things as your neighbor?

We all have strengths and weaknesses? Should this be ok? Should we all have to have proficiency in everything? I do not think so. If I had to graduate today from high school, I do not know if I could pass all of the math requirements. I was an excellent writer and reader. These are my strengths. I tried very hard in math. I got "C's" in algebra, geometry, and any other higher level math class that I had to take. "C's" used to be average and an acceptable grade. There is nothing wrong with being average in some things. I graduated from an accredited college and did well in almost all of my classes except math. I went on to get my masters degree. Most important I was learning new things and getting experience in problem solving. Today my brain still has a hard time understanding abstract math concepts- my graduation from high school or college would be in doubt.

As part of my technology teaching job I will be spending the next month supervising students as they get tested in reading and math. The tests are high stakes. Teachers use these test results to get a direction in which to instuct for the upcoming school year. At the end of the school year students are tested again to see if the instructional goals have been met. While testing is one way to get information about students knowledge, it is not the end all. I have sympathy for the students and the teachers. We all have our own time table for learning and we all have strengths and weaknesses that are unique to us. The home lives and the day to day stresses of life for our students are not taken into consideration. Making all students have to achieve proficiency in every academic area is unrealistic.

My hopes for the future is for the pendulum to swing the other direction when it comes to testing in our schools. I want this noble profession of teaching to once again be about helping each of our students to grow and learn and live up to their fullest potential.

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