Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What we will be teaching students is to be effective test takers

Every educator, whether public or private, has to wrestle from time to time with educational practices and policies with which they disagree.  Most of the time we are flexible and accommodate differences, particularly where we feel our jobs or standing might be threatened.  In this day and age of standardized testing, evaluation by non-educators, shrinking budgets, overcrowding and a multitude of other issues, I suspect it is getting harder and harder for educators to just go along to get along.  More and more are speaking out.

To start this school year, Wantagh, New York Principal Don Sternberg sent a welcome letter to his school’s families that addressed many issues facing his school, students and teachers (http://www.schoolleadership20.com/m/blogpost?id=1990010%3ABlogPost%3A120983).  So far as I can tell he is still employed, so I would say the school district and community is to be applauded. 

You should read the entire letter, but it can best be summed up by this statement:
 “One significant issue as we move into this new school year is that we will, at times, find it difficult if not impossible to teach authentic application of concepts and skills with an eye towards relevancy. What we will be teaching students is to be effective test takers; a skill that does not necessarily translate into critical thinking – a skill set that is necessary at the college level and beyond. This will inevitably conflict with authentic educational practice – true teaching.”

Isn’t this the struggle we so often face? – How do we do what we are being asked to and protect the integrity of a real education?  To what degree do the tests measure what we believe is important? 

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