There was an edchat earlier this week, on Tuesday, April 2, about assessments and standardized testing. Most teachers on the edchat agree that assessment is important, particularly progress monitoring. Since teachers are typically reflecting and developing as professionals, assessment should be seen as a good thing. However, there is a lot of debate about how to use assessments, as a measure of student and/or educator success. Some schools want to or try to link pay to assessment results. Just like any "carrot and stick" incentive, if money is involved, some people are also given the incentive to do whatever it takes to succeed--or profit. An article in the Huffington Post "High Stakes Testing Makes Cheating Inevitable" details the recent and ongoing issues with test-cheating scandals, sometimes by students, but most recently by teachers, administrators, and principals!
"Standardized tests have a valid role in education, but closing down schools or giving principals cash bonuses based on test results is new. That started when then-Gov. George W. Bush instituted a business mindset in Texas public schools and measured all schools by their tests scores. In Texas public schools, dropouts rose, preparing for the tests ate up more than half the schoolyear, and scores rose. Bush proclaimed it the "Texas Miracle." Many of the schools he cited as proof of his miracle were later investigated for cheating, including Wesley Elementary in Houston, where the principal coached teachers "to administer a test the Wesley way," which meant walking around the classroom and standing behind a student until they chose the correct answer. But by then, achieving miraculous gains on test scores had become a national goal."
Most teachers are holding their breath with the assessments and testing that will follow the development of the common core. Everyone wants what is best for the students and it seems that standardized testing isn't good for the students, the teachers, or anyone. If a teacher or administrator is all about the numbers, how is that meeting the students where they are at and helping them succeed?