Week 13 Reflection
This week included some interesting reading about testing. Reading about it and seeing what some have posted about testing, I think it’s safe to say we don’t like it. It is not only a stressful time for students but teachers as well. I see teaching getting changed because of high stakes testing. It is sad because I think it affects the students the most.
This past week in our team meeting, we were talking about testing and how our district is moving toward have students’ test scores related to our evaluations. I also heard that they would start at having like 20% of your evaluation be based on your students’ end of the year score; after that, the percentage will keep going up. I don’t agree with this at all. I don’t think teachers should be evaluated based on students’ scores. When some of your students underperform on standardized tests, it does not mean you are not a good teacher.
There are many reasons students might not score well on tests. They might get anxiety when they test, read the question wrong, push the wrong button to answer, or have other issues going on in their lives that get in the way of their motivation to perform well on the test, or to miss classes. Some people just don’t test well. In these cases, poor test performance doesn’t mean the student didn’t learn the material or that their teacher didn’t teach it to them.
I think if this goes into effect, we will start to lose some good teachers. Or we won’t attract good new ones. I am not sure how the evaluation system works in other states, but if prospective teachers think that the quality of their work is going be judged in such an unfair and way in Alaska, they might not want to apply.
Soon, the only way to get a good evaluation will be to put aside all you know about what works well for your students and begin to teach to the standardized test. The teachers that are here will be teaching to the test. They are going to be worried about their students’ scores and how these will affect their evaluations.
I think this will also lead to fewer field trips, projects, or fun activities. Teachers are going to feel pressured to get through all the material they need to cover and make sure that students retain it. Some of us teachers, like social studies teachers, don’t know yet what we will be tested on. There is so much to cover in social studies that we are not sure what to cover. We can only go through so much in a school year. A co-worker said she wished she knew what the students were going to be tested on so she would know what to go over. Again, then, she will be teaching to the test.
I myself love to do projects with my students. I think they retain the information more and they have fun doing it. I try to appeal to my students’ likes. Projects do take more time to go through. I’d say sometimes I spend at least two weeks on a project. I try to go through at least one project a quarter. I think if I were to feel pressured, then I might not want to do projects because I would have so much standardized curriculum to cover. I could if I knew what students were going to be tested on incorporate that into their project. Once I see what is going to be on the social studies test, I hope to be able to make projects that will lead students to learn what they need to know to pass. Until I know for sure what students are going to be tested on, I am going to keep teaching the way that I am. I feel students are learning what I want them to know and they are enjoying my class. That is what I want as a teacher.