|image from icanread|
As the testing machine continues to churn in our public schools we seem to have forgotten that not all students actually care to do well on them. Not all students do their best. Not all students try their hardest. Yet we operate under the assumption that of course they must care whatever the test result will be because it has an impact on their life, right?
Coming from a 5th grade grade perspective this is a reoccurring theme in class. Some students want to do well because they want to please me, some students want to do well because they like taking tests, and some students, well, they just don’t really care. And I don’t want to get them to care. I tried, once, by having them know their previous time for taking the test and encouraged them to slow down and really think about it, take their time and be meticulous. What happened? Most of them were so riddled with anxiety since I had ow placed so much importance on the test that they did worse than if I had kept my mouth shut. Lesson learned.
Yet, those same test scores will in the future be part of my educator effectiveness score thanks to our governor Those tests that most of my students whiz through not because they are mastering them but because they don’t really give a hoot, will directly determine whether I have a job or not. And yes, the computer tries to slow them down and even gives me an error rate which no one then cares about because they are only looking at the final score. So I face a dilemma; do I try to make them care or do I close my eyes and wish for the best? We joke around about sabotaging the first test of the year so that students automatically will show growth and yet, I could never do that to my students. What kind of lunacy would I be feeding into then? I would be placing importance on an arbitrary test that I don’t find important at all.
Standardized test operate under this false assumption that all students will try their best thus leading to an accurate view of their knowledge level, thus leading to how effective I have been as a teacher and how smart they are as students. How anyone can follow that logic and agree astounds me. It fails to take into consideration motivation, outside factors, and general attitude in classroom, and yet, all the “experts” say that it is fair. Fair to whom? The people who wrote the test and sold them? The kids who have to pretend to care what a computer tells them they can or cannot do? Fair to a teacher who works their tail off to make school engaging and relevant, everything the tests are not? I don’t know. But something is rotten in the testing machine.