Friday, February 27, 2015 5pm It is 5:00pm on the Friday before high stakes testing begins at my high priority, low performing school. Like the rest of my co teachers, I grabbed my things and ran from the stress as soon as I could see the tail lights of the last bus leave the parking lot. However, in my mad rush, I forgot my cell phone. So here I stand in the now quiet “test planning” room.
It is dark with just the hallway lights filtering in, but I can see the huge charts that cover every wall from floor to ceiling. The display has each teacher named with a column of student names to follow and each student has a yellow, green or red dot planted strategically behind their name. The dots tell the story of their testing success or failure from the prior year. As you may have guessed from the aforementioned description, the “did not pass” dot looks almost like wall paper across the names. It almost feels like a warning label, or a scarlet A. Thank God, no students enter this room. I cannot even imagine walking in and seeing my name on the wall, and knowing that my dot tells the world that I failed “THE TEST” last year.
Even after all the planning has ended, and staff has left, the room has a foreshadowing, chaotic feeling of confusion and dread.
Monday, March 2, 2015 10:37am
I just finished the first round of Math testing with my special education students. It was nothing short of hell. I had to stare at my students, who are all hard workers but well below grade level, and watch their confidence go flying out the window as I begin to read the first problem to them (Side note: they get the test read to them as an accommodation of their Individual Education Plan).
Up until this moment, each of those kids had confidence in their math skills and believed that they were achieving in math and that is ABSOLUTELY the truth. However, due to the fact that our government mandates that each student MUST test on their grade level whether or not they have academically reached those benchmarks, students who are behind their grade level peers are made to feel like failures because they do not have the knowledge to correctly answer grade level questions. THEY ARE NOT failures, and they have all made significant growth academically in math. I have worked tirelessly all year to build their confidence and encourage them to keep trying, but this damn test has ruined all of that. I could tell by the looks on their faces. They were disappointed in themselves and disappointed in me. I can’t really explain how this makes me feel, other than I want to kick, scream and cry. I am furious that some idiot (who has NO background in education) has said it is ok to make my thriving math students like they are negligent in their learning!!!!!
Some of these kids have seen more abuse, poverty and crime than others will see in their entire lifetime. Trauma and loss are everyday issues for them, and because of it, they are behind their peers academically (DUH?). Can you blame them?? Its hard to ask a student to remember how to determine the area of a square if they haven’t eaten since yesterday’s school lunch, and their mother was so high when they left for school, she didn’t know who they were, or she still wasn’t home from “work” and they hadn’t seen her in days.
All of this makes me hate teaching. It makes me HATE our educational system. But it does motivate me to stay with it, and never quit too. Somebody has to be there to pick them up, dust them off, and tell them that they are amazing regardless of an achievement test, and I will take THAT job all day long.