I saw a tweet this week and I wish I had saved it so I could give credit where it is due, but it said something like “Every time Call Me Maybe comes on I’m like “OMG not again” then seconds later, I’m all “I threw a wish in the well don’t ask me I’ll never tell.” You know you do that. I so do! Well I am going to be like “Call Me Maybe” and repeat myself. Hopefully it is a good reminder. If it is not a reminder to you or something you don’t agree with, change the station – I am sure Gotye is playing somewhere.
For the rest of us: Back in April of 2010 I wrote this post “Well That Explains It…but I Don’t Like It!” after a meeting with 5th grade teachers from one of our feeder pattern schools. The post talks about how many tests and formal assessments they give and how much it counts toward the kids grades. I talked about how it explained why my students are always so focused on tests and ignore everything else we do in class. I also wrote this post a year ago about how tests should not be the main reason for students’ grades. While writing that post I kept thinking back to the elementary school my students come from and much testing is taking place. It all just made me annoyed at the time. Well all of this has just entered my personal world so I am getting a taste of how much testing and pressure are being put on the kids.
My daughter is now in first grade. She is a brilliant child. I know most parents say that about their kids, but most people who have met her will agree. This week for the first time I have to deal with her anxiety. This anxiety has come from school, something she usually loves and is easy for her. She had a huge stack of tests and graded worksheets from the week before I had to sign and turn back in. Some of the papers were not perfect scores and I could really tell it was bothering her. My first question was, “You’ve had time in 2 weeks of school to do all of this?!” I am so not a fan of the amount of testing as well as how it made her feel.
I don’t think blaming her teacher is the key here. I know the teacher has her hands tied on what is expected of her. This is what upsets me the most. The school has this culture. This culture is wrong.
Should there be tests? Yeah to some extent. My kids are taking them today, fine, but that has not been our goal the first 3 weeks of school. Our goal has been to learn. Not memorize anything, just learn. Why is learning (I don’t mean getting ready for tests) not a critical goal? Why do we in education feel a test can show us what students are learning? This entire mindset has to change.
As a parent I feel lost as to where to start advocating for my child. Do I start at teacher level, admin, district? Where and how? My house will be going back on the market soon, do I just sit and wait and do nothing about it because she will be going elsewhere, that kind of cheats my future students though. I feel somewhat responsible to doing something, parents who are not aware best practices (hate that phrase but all I could come up with) do not know there are better ways at measuring learning and their kids are being cheated. The state of Alabama just got a new Superintendent, Dr. Tommy Bice who understands how education should be. So often we hear change will not come because it is not starting from the top-down. Well he is on top and is ready to change everything with is Plan 2020 and stop pushing testing and collect data from other facets. Do I just sit back and wait for the change to trickle down from the top? That may take a while. I am not sure. I am at a lost.
So back to sounding like Call Me Maybe and repeating myself. We have to stop testing kids and worksheeting them to death. We have to have goals beyond passing kids or just preparing them for the next grade level. They need to be learning how to collaborate, problem solve, become lifelong learners. THAT needs to be our goals. This post is not to critize the school but to hopefully remind everyone not to get in the testing rut.
…And because it is now already in your head