Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do we overtest kids?

Recently our county mandated that the Guidance Counselor could no longer be in charge of testing.  So, as a Leadership Team, we began to talk about what the Testing Coordinator job for our very large school entailed and who in our school could pick up that responsibility.  Although I have known for some time that we are testing our children to death, I had no idea that 60 days of our Guidance Counselor's 180 school days involve TESTING - the county's three times a year benchmark testing in Reading, Math and Science to monitor our progress toward FCAT, the week and a half of actual FCAT testing, gifted screenings, annual testing of ELL students, annual testing for Music, Art, and PE, and the list goes on and on.  60 DAYS of testing! All mandated!

I certainly realize that Guidance Counselors should not shoulder this responsibility because they give up actual counselling and small groups to push paper, but I wonder just who in the school the county thinks has an extra 60 days to unpack, dispense, report, and pack up assessments!  Coaches are non-existent, at least at our school, which means we have already given up the professional development needed to make the testing and results really beneficial to instruction.  We gave them up with class size.  We don't have an Assistant Principal, even though we have over 1200 students, but even if we did, how could he spend 60 days with testing.  Should he just let the school's discipline wait while he packs and unpacks papers?  To think it could be a teacher, who this year added lunch supervision to her responsibilities and gave up all of her common planning and half her planning overall, is not even a consideration.  In a school this size, the testing for a single grade level can completely paper a small office.

Maybe the answer is to take a better look at the ridiculous amount of testing that we are doing in our state and in our county.  It is changing what teachers teach.  It is changing attitudes toward learning in our classrooms.  Children who once loved reading now dread it because we test everything that they read. They can't just read for the thrill of getting into the story of a good book.  Teachers are changing as they are forced to teach in a way that they don't believe is good for children. There are certainly teachers who are holding to their beliefs, but even they are getting beat down.  I do feel fortunate to be in a school where people still believe in the possibiities but as we are asked each year to do more with less, I begin to feel the edges get rough and in some cases begin to unravel, even in this Camelot...  We MUST make our thoughts known... before it is too late...

1 comment:

Haley Alvarado said...

I agree 100% and have said for many years that we spend too much time testing! Every time we test, we are taking away from actual teaching and instructional time. We have more content to cover and more students coming to school with varying needs, yet the amount of testing that we are required to do continues to increase! We want to teach, motivate, help, and inspire kids, not just teach them how to pass a test and get by!