It turns out I owe everyone an apology. Or at least a great big “I am sorry” to all of the people who have ever been inspired by this blog to change the way they teach. It turns out I don’t know what I am doing, at least not if you look at our test scores. You see, my students took our district standardized test, the one they take three times a year, and it turns out that at least for some all of my crazy ideas have apparently ruined their English skills. It wasn’t that their scores dropped just a touch, no, some lost hundreds of points in their comprehension skills; whole grade level disseminated by this terrible teacher. And there is no one to blame but me, after all, I am the one responsible for all of the teaching.
These tests are a funny thing really, they have a way of messing with even the most stoic of teachers. We say we don’t care what the test scores are and yet we cannot help but feel fully responsible for the negative scores. The positive ones, the ones that gained hundreds of points since January; those cannot possible be my doing, because I am teaching all of these kids. And not all of these kids are improving by leaps and bounds. So those great scores, they have to be a fluke, but those kids with the big fat minus next to their number, yup, I did that.
As I wrestle with my own feelings of ineptitude tonight, I have realized that who ever thought that teachers could be evaluated by scores that change so dramatically over a year, has never been a teacher. I could re-test my students tomorrow and guarantee you that all of them would have different scores. How a test like that can help me plan instruction is beyond me. How a test like that can be used to evaluate teachers in some states is even further out of my understanding. And yet it does, and we take it ever so personal because we care. We think if we had just tried a little harder, worked a little more then maybe we could have reached all of our kids, and not just the “easy” ones.
So I am sorry for ever thinking I could help change education from within. I am sorry that I have told others to give the classroom back to students, to create passionate learning environments where students not only have a choice, but they also have a voice. The test told me today that I am doing something wrong for these kids, because there is no way a 34 question test can be wrong, right? All I can say is that I am thankful to work in an incredible district with an amazing administration that sees beyond the test scores. That has faith in us and in all we do. That knows we are bigger than the test scores our students get, because if I didn’t, according to this test, I don’t have any business teaching some of them, or blogging about what I do.
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” is available for pre-order now. 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.