teachin' school

teaching tip 3. you gotta deal with standardized testing.


STAAR.

the relatively new standardized test of texas sucks.  it just does.  it treats all students the same.  and guess what?  they’re not!

it also hold those generic students to an extremely high standard.  one that they must meet in order to graduate.

we have students at my school who will be taking six tests next week.  students who also took four ELA tests a few weeks ago.  students who have not passed one of their STAAR tests.  and next year, they will just take them all again along with five more.  these students are low performing students.  not stupid.  they’re actually really smart about different things.  one, for example, knows how to fix pretty much anything you can think of on a truck.  he thinks differently, but he is an average student.  Cs mostly.  academics are not his strong suit.

but why do they have to be?  he’s not going to college.  he’s already told me that.  he’s going to a trade school.  i agree with him.  it’s the best possible option for him.

he’s not going to be able to do that if he doesn’t graduate.

having said all that – i have no idea what the solution is.  i have no real tip for you here besides do your best to make due with what you have been given.  you can only do so much.  yes, it’s stressful, but try to keep everything in perspective.  just work your ass off.  try new strategies.  work with your fellow teachers.  be positive even when it hurts.

there is a bill in the Texas House of Representatives that is proposing abolishing all the tests except for five.  and those five will be spaced out over the course of their time in high school.  if we have to have it, that seems like the best thing for the students and the teachers.

all i know is that my power as a teacher has been ripped from my hands.  we talk about the test pretty much every day, especially now at only a week away.  the test has taken away my creativity as a teacher.  it has put an enormous amount of pressure on me and all the other teachers.  our principals are affected too.  you can just tell that they are stressed out to the max.  all that stress trickles down to the teachers and then to the students.  we have to push them so hard.  we push ourselves so hard.

i hope there are some changes in the futures, but who knows…  politics are powerful in education in texas.  it shouldn’t be that way and yet it is.  i hope that soon our state government will make some much needed modifications that focus on the students and not the money tied to the testing companies or the scores or simple statistics.  i hope they shift their focus to more critical thinking, creativity, and real achievement based on individual performance.

UPDATE: in mid June, the Texas state legislature passed the bill that cut the number of standardized tests for high school students from 15 to 5.  thank goodness!  this takes a TON of pressure off of the students and teachers.  BUT, now there are a lot of questions.  as of mid july, my school has no plan for how to proceed, which classes to keep and cut, and how to create a schedule.  it’ll be an interesting year!

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