Testing season has begun, and it is sucking my will to live.
Starting on Wednesday, and continuing for the entire month of April, all of our 10th graders (those being tested) will be participating in day-long tutoring sessions to prepare for the DC-CAS. All day, nothing but test prep. Of course, these students will still be enrolled in art, music, foreign language, history, and science classes. They just won't actually be taking them. Unless it's math or English, it doesn't matter in April.
This bothers me as a teacher for two reasons. First, kids can't just focus on only math and reading for a month without going bonkers. Second, since I'm one of the teachers who will be leading these testing sessions, I have to abandon my classes to go teach these other kids. What will my children do while I'm gone? Fester in some other classroom (with a teacher that is less than competent)? Yes, exactly.
The dumbest thing is that students could be learning engaging and appropriate math and reading in all of their classes if we as a school just planned better. You can't do social studies or science without reading. You can't do physics, chemistry, or music without math. So what we need are curricula that are standards-based and make sure that kids actually know things while still exposing them to a wide range of topics. Such things wouldn't be that difficult to create, except that getting teachers to collaborate and work on a common goal is like getting dogs to walk on their hind legs.
I've written before that I think standardized testing is not all that bad. In theory, if kids know things, then taking a test shouldn't be a problem. And we do need reliable and easy-to-collect data on our schools. If run well, testing shouldn't be an issue. In good schools, no one freaks out about testing because the tests are easy. We don't have to stop everything to teach to the test because we've already taught beyond the test. That's the way it should work. It's just that pesky word "should" that gets us into trouble every time in DCPS.
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