Let me make one thing clear: I’m not against a nation-wide test or a state-wide test or even a district test.
Data is not a bad thing. Discovering that 30 percent of the kids in your class don’t understand fact vs. opinion but across the hall a friend’s class has a hundred percent mastery of the concept….yeah, that’s valuable. And sharing those results with each other is invaluable. And asking why and finding answers to that question…invaluable.
The problem is the answer isn’t always simple.
Unlike factory production where there’s a constant inhuman product, teachers are working with people. People with emotions and hormones and issues. People who are constantly changing. That change is what we champion in education. It’s what we celebrate. It’s essential.
But when testing becomes the entire basis for education, when teachers are evaluated on effectiveness based on the test, when testing companies help define education policy, we’ve moved from using a test to help to using a test to destroy public schools and all that is good about education.
It’s making the WHY unimportant when finding the why is the thing that matters over any other. The why determines the how and the how to get past the why not.
A test can help determine what students have learned or not learned, but it can’t do a lot more than that. When it’s being used as a weapon against teachers, even that effectiveness is lost.
Finally, there are no one size fits all solutions to WHY NOT and HOW. The answers to those questions in Wichita Falls aren’t the same answers in Memphis or Mansfield or Minneapolis. When a test is used as the be all, end all of education that fact gets overlooked. Teachers understand that. More and more parents understand that. Politicians probably understood that at one time, but they’ve forgotten.
I hope that changes before more quality educators get out of the business of changing lives.