January 12, 2023

Jeff Waid: The War On Teachers Part Two: Working Conditions – Testing.

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Retired teacher Jeff Waid has been blogging a series about the challenges facing teachers. In this post, he talks about the problems with testing.

First, there’s the reasoning behind it:

It’s a crazy circular shell game where each part of the trinity only exists because of the other two, and underneath it all is the assumption that teachers are not doing their jobs.

We need standards because teachers are not teaching.

We need tests because we have standards.

We need scores because we have tests.

We need rankings because we have scores.

We need consequences because the scores “prove” teachers are not teaching.

Rinse. Repeat.

Then he works his way through a list of the issues testing creates.

1. It narrows the curriculum.

We value what we test because we can easily measure it. Over the last two decades, schools have come to value only what they measure, and we’ve mostly only measured English and math. Not art. Not theater. Not music. Not dance. Not even history. In California we dabble with science (though not in the Big Smarter Balanced “SBAC” Summatives), but only because, when reminded that the testing is flawed because we only test English and math, their answer was “Then let’s find a way to test more.”

All this testing results in an impoverished curriculum, not simply in the subjects emphasized but also in the broader, more potent sense of “curriculum” which considers “all aspects and dimensions of the educational experiences which pupils have during any period of formal education, and of their underlying principles and rationale” (A.V. Kelley, The Curriculum: Theory and Practice).

Other items on the list include:

2. Testing is a huge time suck.

3. The tests are invalid and misleading.

4. The testing and the scores it produces are weaponized against teachers, schools, and the students themselves.

It’s a pretty good list. Read this full post here.

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