Testing Makes Me Feel Like a Bad Teacher

image from icanread

I know I should not care, I should go on my day like it is nothing, but the truth is; standardized testing makes me feel like a bad teacher.  It shouldn’t be a big deal but anyone who has had their students sit through a MAP test will tell you; printing out that report and seeing whether the students met their projected growth score is downright anxiety producing.

Once the test is over then we stand with the repercussions; scores that were not met because the kid was having a bad day, scores that were not met because they rushed, scores that were not met because they didn’t get that one question.  And yes, scores that were not met because I didn’t do my job well enough.  The problem is; I don’t know which category a score fits into.  I can certainly take a guess but that is all it would be; a guess.  So I base my teacher performance on a score that supposedly tells me everything without really teling me much.

I take their scores and try to let them be a guide merely, forget that they will go on with the students to middle school, forget that these scores will determine where on the data wall they sit.  Forget that as much as we pretend they don’t matter, that these scores will usually mean more to their future education than any of my feedback or summative assessment ever will.  And it makes me feel like a bad teacher.
I cannot protect my students from what I fight against; the standardization of their intellect.  The standardization of their knowledge, their creativity  and their aptitude.  I cannot protect them from being labeled due to test scores.  I can only do so much within my classroom to shield them from the test obsessed education policy that seems to be driving us.  I can downplay the test but the educational system does not let me downplay the result anymore.  So I feel like a bad teacher.
I became a teacher to make a difference, not to feel bad about the tests I have to put my students through in order that someone will believe me when I say that they grew as a reader, that they grew in their math knowledge, that they grew in their intellect.  Apparently my word is not enough anymore, perhaps it never has been, now the data is what guides us.  And the data makes me feel like a bad teacher.

2 thoughts on “Testing Makes Me Feel Like a Bad Teacher

  1. Sigh…So true. I've changed from being a 4th grade teacher – 3 years of MAPS. I am now the test coordinator. We are in our MAP mode. This just months after benchmark tests, with winter MAPS right before. It is scary the amount of time we put into standardized testing. I listened to the April 26 Bloomberg EDU Podcast, which reflected on what tying teacher performance evals to student testing results is doing. Cheating, teaching to the tests, not teaching – it's sad. I don't know how to stop the cycle. We can discuss and support great instruction. But in the end for now – there's high stakes standardized testing. And so teacher spend too much time teaching test strategies and being tempted to find ways to have kids bomb the Fall and succeed in the Spring.

  2. It does the same to me. In fact, I think it makes me a bad teacher. In my classes that are untested (or, more accurately, assessed by me and my standards) we form a family and a community, are joyful and supportive and really celebrate our subject. In my core classes that are state-tested, we went really quickly and worked to "cover the material" in the hopes they can do well on the tests. No fun. No excitement. No community. I'm unhappy that the subject has come to that, because I love it 😦

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