A Delaware teacher wrote to me. I asked for permission to share the email and the teacher agreed to me posting the email.
I write to you today because I am seeking your support for the students of xxxxx School District. I am a teacher at xxxxx. I have dedicated the last 18 years of my life to the students who go to xxxxx. I have relationships with generations of families, love teaching those “tough” kids and have great successes everyday in my classroom.
The testing cycles in xxxxx have begun and I feel that the administration has again let us down. There is so much testing on my calendar it will be extremely difficult to teach all the standards I am required to teach, let alone get kids who are behind, caught up. Something MUST be done to stop all of this insane testing!
Let me assure you that I am not a person who ducks assessment. I believe in knowing where students are so that I can design lessons and work with them in small groups to fill in gaps and push students to their greatest potential. This is about too many district or state mandated assessments that give me no information. They seem to serve the purpose of proving that xxxxx students will fail no matter what we do. Let me explain…
I have already given an oral reading assessment individually – Dibels Next (8-10 minutes per 30 kids = nearly 300 minutes of class time). I’ve given a “cold read” – a reading comprehension test and a math diagnostic and placement test. This week I will be finishing my first unit in math and giving the unit test. I’ve also done a spelling inventory to check for phonics skills and other informal writing samples. Week 2 is over and I know my students pretty well. I’m ready to teach and get kids where they need to go!
I am now told that I must give the Amplify reading and math pre and post test. I am supposed to schedule 2 days in the computer lab for each subject. I am also told that I must use this test as a measure for my component 5 rating. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Amplify. Its the same company that produces Smarter Balanced. Same kinds of questions, same ridiculous length, and complexity of directions. I am also told that they will be taking THREE interim assessments, for a total of FIVE times they will take this test, plus Smarter, plus all the other tests that actually help me guide instruction.
There are many layers to why this is wrong for students.
- One, I need to be teaching for 4 days in September, not having students staring at a computer screen to take a test I know that they’ll bomb!
- Two, giving this assessment FIVE times a year eats away at my precious teaching and learning time. Testing is not teaching!
- Third, after 18 years I can look into the crystal ball and tell you how May is going to go. After students have taken 5-6 days of Smarter Balance testing, we will again set them in front of a computer screen and ask them to show us that they can take another hours long assessment of what they’ve learned this year. How do you think that will go? I KNOW how 8,9 and 10 year old people will react. They will not show what they know because they will be burned out and exhausted, leading to most xxxxx teachers not making their component 5 goals. More “unsatisfactory” teachers in xxxxx. That will hit the News Journal, and more students bleed out from our district.
I don’t want to walk down that path again and again. xxxxx kids and teachers work very hard and deserve better! I am embarrassed at the administration’s decisions for our students. Who else can and will speak out for children in xxxxx?