Much like the rest of North America, my students have been doing the BIG test these last few weeks. Much like so many teachers, I have sat silently and hoped that I have been enough, that what we have done has adequately prepared them, that they do well. And yet…
I have also refused to worry more about it. I have refused to get further upset. I have shaken my head, I have made my comments, but I have refused to take it home with me. This test is so far out of my hands that me worrying more about it, losing sleep over it, getting my blood pressure up, is not going to do anything good. I cannot change what I have taught. I cannot help my students more than I have. So by now as a teacher, I can only do my best and hope for the best. I can raise my voice whenever I get a chance, and I can hope for change. Because as teachers, our voices are being drowned. Our voices are not being heard. Proponents of the testing say teachers are too invested, too close to the situation to have an unbiased opinion. We are afraid of what the tests may say about our teaching. We do not want accountability. And no matter how many times I argue about the fallacy of these statements, I am still lumped into a group that few want to listen to. So as a teacher, I have had to find my peace within this testing obsessed nation, protect my students as best as I can and save my energy for the fight I will put up for my own children.
Because as a parent, I worry. I worry about the massive amount of time these test are taking. I worry about the developmentally appropriateness of questions. I worry about how they don’t actually mimic the skills that we help our students develop such as arguing one’s opinion or noticing the different facets of an answers. I worry about how these tests will be used to further rank our children as we rank their teachers, as we rank their schools, as we rank their districts. I worry how these test will continue to perpetuate the myth that the American public education system is a broken one and it therefore needs to be all about choice and privatization.
So I already know all of my own children will be opted out when they get to that age. I already know that my children will not be asked to sit through hours of testing to prove something that doesn’t benefit them or change their direct instruction. They will not be asked to help rank their school through a computerized test. As a parent, right now, I have a larger voice than I do as a teacher. And I will keep using that voice whenever I can, even if it only means helping the four kids that I get to call my own. The fight has to start somewhere.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.