Sunday, January 19, 2014

NY State Ed Starting Discussion To Test Teachers Every Year (Read Carefully)

As if we hadn’t had enough. According to this article from the NY Times, State Ed leaders are now entertaining discussion towards testing teachers on a routine basis. Also, the results would be used towards a teacher’s APPR. No details on how frequent teachers are to be tested, but teachers who teach multiple subjects will be taking multiple tests. Don’t worry. It’s not as bad as our students have it. There was no mention of field testing or who would be designing the tests. 

Here's a link to the article:

 If you found that the link was broken, that is because it never existed. I made up the story and none of it’s true (this doesn’t mean that it can’t happen though). There is a part of me that wishes this were true. True, not because I love tests and want to take over testing to the next level, but I want to believe that a headline like this would be a catalyst for a majority of the teachers in this state to stand up. Believe me, there are already some that do. However, in all due respect, many teachers find themselves behind a desk that is stacked with APPR forms to fill out, data from pre-tests to evaluate and SLO’s to write, DDI tests to create and evaluate, state testing memos to read (memo 1, memo 2, memo 3), field-testing memos to read*, PARCC** testing memos to read, (for teachers who are lucky enough) stacks of modules*** to read, and a list of a dozen or so dates to be pulled out of the classroom for conferences, professional development, chats, testing, etc (and I am not even going to touch upon the day-to-day responsibilities). It’s not like it was in the past when teachers were the source of their being too busy for their own good. Unfortunately, nowadays teachers are made too busy by the powers above to muster up enough energy to make a difference. I would love to see these teachers stand up, walk around their mountain of mandates, turn around, take a glance and say “THIS IS INSANE, THIS IS NOT EDUCATION” and take action.

 I was motivated to write this blog after I took the Praxis II Math Content test last Saturday. The amount of pressure that I experienced taking a test that I signed up for, that I wanted to take was extremely stressful. It was an an enlightening experience for me. I cannot imagine the pressure our students in grades 3 thru 8 experience on SIX DAYS**** of testing for math and ELA every year. It was an experience that I wish every teacher could revisit and get a taste of to remind them of what their students are truly going through, except on a magnified level. Just then, maybe then, there would be enough of us standing up with a voice that could not be conveniently ignored.

*The link is to the field test memo from March 2013.  This year's memo is not out yet.  Field testing is also mention in the PARCC memo where it states that "Schools that do not participate in PARCC field testing will be required to participate in all typical New York State field testing." 

**Schools are not forced to participate in PARCC this school year (2013-2014). If your school is, it is because they volunteered for it. 

 *** Modules are not mandated by every district, but their implementation has been rushed and has caused some undo stress for the student, parent, and teacher that could have been avoided with a slower, more strategic implementation. 

 **** At least six days of testing for all grades 3 thru 8. Grades 4 and 8 also have a state test for science.