alfie kohn, merit pay, testing

Yes They Grew But Can I Take Credit For It?

We are in the midst of testing season at my school.  The students are doing MAP tests, as well as their writing assessments and we gather to discuss the results, to think of strategies.  To rank, to sort, to file.  To highlight, to shine a light, and to discuss what is working and what isn’t.  We pat some teachers on the back – look at that growth, and we wonder what else we can do.  We wonder if merit pay is on the horizon and how we will be ranked, filed, and sorted.  That will be based on these test results on those students gains or losses and yet, can we really take credit for the gains that our students may have made?  Can those test results really be accredited to the teacher?

I often wonder how much growth my students do on their own?  How their brain creates new connections, new ideas, and new strategies for conquering the learning we do?  How much of that growth can be attributed to their parents or home environment rather than the school?  How many of those new connections can really be chalked up to their natural development as a growing child who all of a sudden gets it more?  Or even how much of their growth should be attributed to their first teachers, perhaps in daycare, pre-school or kindergarten?  Those teachers set the foundation, taught those students that school was safe and an environment they could continue their learning in.  Can I take credit for any of the growth shown a piece of paper?  I don’t know.