It’s about the test scores

I’m frustrated.  Maybe this has a lot to do with me learning so much from my PLN about reforming education and having moved on in my teaching practice to establish a new pedagogy.  Had I not taken so much time this summer to really piece together a new view of my teaching then this post is never written.

We are missing the boat.  There is a massive gaping hole between facilitating learning from a real world view point that stresses fluent use of technology, communication, collaboration, problem solving and learning in context vs. education the kids are getting in our schools.  Why is there such a massive hole?  Better yet, why is the idea not being grasped that by teaching to a test today is not serving the needs of our kids tomorrow?

Current teaching practices emphasize low-grade test score teaching strategies over high quality teaching practices.  Teaching practices have to transform into facilitation practices. A good facilitator perceives and understands the thinking of students and makes appropriate instructional shifts to guide the learners to correct yet deep understandings. The facilitator must be keen and sharp thinking to instantly assess a student or students needs. To facilitate means to give up control of direct instruction driving learning in favor of direct instruction. In essence, a facilitator and leaner create new learning together side by side. Teachers can no longer be content to just help kids pass a state test for the sake of statistics, titles, bragging rights and AYP. There can only imagine the uninspired learners we have sitting at desks wondering what all of it means in their lives.  A simple parallel is drawn:  testing teaching = uninspired learners.  Maybe this is beginning to make sense to me why students cannot remember from year to year what the curriculum says they should. No student is inspired to learn anything because they know it is just to pass the test.

I have had numerous conversations with colleagues about state test scores and all of the interventions that need to happen to help student So and So pass the test.  Add dozens of names to the list in each grade and you have an epidemic in each school with a pandemic consequences at the district level.  The cry is, “Help every student pass the test!”  Ask a kid what was learned two weeks after it was taught and you are likely to get a blank stare with a barely audible “I don’t know.”  Frustrating.  What are we doing wrong that a child cannot tell us something about what was learned?  Isn’t this screaming about transforming our schools and teaching practices?  I guess not.

Here’s how I see it.  Schools and teachers tout passage rates, or lack there of, on state tests but miss the boat helping a child learn deeply and intrinsically through sound facilitation practices.  

Ok, someone set me straight if I am way off here.


5 thoughts on “It’s about the test scores

  1. I am thinking about similar problems. But I think one teacher cannot do things differently on her own. Teachers are also making a living, and they are answering to the authority who is paying them. A teacher who always feels like she is the only one doing the right thing, even if she really is, will only invite frustration and probably burn her out.

    To change, there must be a public consensus of what is the real role of a teacher. A lot of times teachers are just pawns, dedicated and responsible, but have different opinions of what the responsibility is.

    • Totally disagree with the response above. We can NEVER say we are JUST teachers or we are just pawns. Do u really believe that? I do not. I believe in the power of one. The power that I can make a difference, that I can change the paradigm. Sure, that sounds good, but we’re doing it. I’m not teaching to a text book or an assessment. I use the standards as a guide and we LEARN. And we promote learning all over the place. When ALL teachers stop believing we are JUST teachers, then we ALL really can make a difference.

      • “To change, there must be a public consensus of what is the real role of a teacher.”

        There is a lack of consensus of what the role of a teacher is. For example, 2 equally responsible teachers living in 2 different paradigms will most likely teach in 2 different ways. Can we say one is more responsible than the other? No. They just believe in different ideologies.

        What I really wanted to say in my response was that what is lacking is not teachers who are responsible, dedicated or even passionate. On their own they are just pawns, fighting their own battles. The “power of one” is quite weak actually. Brilliant people from half a century ago have talked and written about the problems with their education system, and when i read about those problems, I find it quite revealing that what they said can be perfectly used to describe today’s education system. There is a limit to what one can do before one burns out.

        When you say “When ALL teachers stop believing we are JUST teachers, then we ALL really can make a difference.”, you use the word “ALL”, not “one”. And that in my opinion is the keyword to “change the paradigm”. To me, what will really make a difference is the communication and leadership among teachers.

        All of us want to make things better. But we must admit the reality of the situation, that teachers are a group of people who believe in different ideologies. Don’t you think so? It is a problem about communication and leadership.

    • I have given this some thought and the answer is, from my looking glass, that change must happen. There are a few contributing factors that have to be dealt with. The first and largest are having administrators who will make a decision for education and be leaders and not consumers. There are too many wimpy leaders lurking hallways with iPads in hand pretending to lead. Too many people have the “right” answer complicating the matter leading us all to ask what is the true path of education. From which of today’s mighty prophets do we find the power to change? None. How many education conferences are out there to attend with keynote speakers who have a clue and speak words to fill us with confidence, but what evidence do they bring to the podium that a word of theirs spoken has matter of factly transformed learning. Following in this sister’s footsteps comes the “I never saw this coming” kind of educators whose Holy Grail is the teacher manual. Enough said. To trump it all is the country’s view on education. Having a solid, educated infrastructure is second fiddle to the mega-trillion dollar sports arena, the discovery of the next greatest rock band holed up in a bar named Smokey Joes, or near the sighted politicians only looking put for their back pocket.

      We all believe we change education for the very same reasons why we believe every child can learn. We believe.

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