The Big Think

April 25, 2013

Reason #452 Why I Don’t Teach

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 7:27 am

“More testing does not equal more rigor. In my 17 years teaching middle school language arts, I’ve seen exactly the opposite. As high-stakes testing increased, real learning fell by the wayside. Authentic, creative writing has been replaced by 26-line formula essays. Imagination and elaboration are discouraged unless it can fit on one page. Classroom lessons are focused on getting students ready for the test, which steals instructional time away from teaching students how to actually write and communicate.

What else has been stolen? Novel studies, independent thinking, analytical discussions, and creative writing. Where my 2001 students would have read 10 novels by now, my current students have read one. Where my 2002 students would have written and peer-edited more than 15 creative writing pieces, my current students have completed zero. Instead of analyzing literature, students get sorted into testing rooms to take practice tests. School officials seem to think that testing kids — who have already lost significant instructional time to STAAR practice — will improve their performance. But as we say in Texas, weighing the pig does not make it fatter.

No, testing has not made kids smarter. It has, however, taught students that the test is all that matters. They ask, after STAAR testing is complete in April, why we go to school for another month and a half. For many students, school equals test prep, and once they’ve taken the test, they see no value in coming to school. These students don’t recognize that the true purpose of education is to learn new things, to expand their minds, to further their knowledge and understanding of the world. To them, school simply means narrow learning of skills that will appear on the test.”

STAAR Writing Test A Big Step Backward

1 Comment »

  1. “These students don’t recognize that the true purpose of education is to learn new things, to expand their minds, to further their knowledge and understanding of the world.”

    You could also replace the word “students” with “school administrators,” or with “lawmakers.”

    Phhhhht. And it’s been particularly bad in Texas, unfortunately. We’ve gone from having one of the best public school systems around to one of the worst — and that’s just comparing us to other states, not to any real standard. Depressing.

    We can, of course, save Greta and Clara from having to deal with all this crap, but that solves nothing for society at large: they’ll still have to live and work and function with people who went to public schools. Even if our kids go to private schools, or home schools, or if we don’t have kids, we still have skin in the game and we have *got* to fix this!

    Comment by barrybrake — April 29, 2013 @ 9:56 am

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