Teachers Speak Out on Testing
- Subject: Teachers Speak Out on Testing
- From: George Sheridan <learn@JPS.NET>
- Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 21:18:49 -0800
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Continuing its extensive coverage of the ESEA, the April 2002 issue of NEA
Today features a two-page spread billed as "Teachers Speak Out on ESEA."
The union publication interviewed four elementary teachers from New
Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Following are questions and answers about the ESEA's testing mandate.
Q: The new law requires states to administer annual reading and math tests
of their own design in grades 3-8. Your reaction?
Which tests are states going to use, and how will they compare those measures?
An educator named Ellin Keene, whom we know and love, once said, "If you
teach the children how to think, they're going to do well on a test." But
this isn't true if the test doesn't provoke thought.
Will these be tests with truly thought-probing questions that require the
children to use life skills--analyzing, thinking, writing, and reading? Or
will they have narrowly focused, minutiae-types of questions that have
nothing to do at all with thinking?
The danger is that some states will choose tests that are cheaper to
implement rather than performance-based, critical-thinking,
thought-provoking tests that are much harder to score.
Q: What are your thoughts generally about testing?
Tests are important. We all know that you need SATs to get into college.
But we get into trouble when we use the information that tests give us to
judge teachers and schools.
We know that appropriate assessments can drive instruction based on student
needs and be very helpful, but standardized multiple choice tests don't do
The standardized tests that exist in elementary school do not reflect what
kids actually know and how well they've been taught.
These tests don't measure an individual child's progress. They just measure
the child against the norm.
In our school, we see children who don't have the advantages our own
children have, yet these children make unbelievable progress.
Our school has a revolving door. Many of the children in grades 3-5 are not
the same children who started with us in kindergarten.
Our school is changing all the time. Unless the individual test score
follows the child and can be made useful for that child's teacher, it
doesn't make sense.
Teachers are very anxious about the whole testing situation. There's a
small fear that someday we might be forced to change our teaching in ways
we don't believe in, just so we can achieve those test scores--which may
not really be measuring how much children are learning.
Most of us believe that standardized tests really measure socioeconomics.
They reflect who the children are and whether they have educated parents at
home supporting them in school, rather than what is being taught and
learned at school.
Cool, California 95614
Post a Message to arn-l: