The annual exercise in paranoia known as the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) ended a few weeks ago and I do not have the slightest idea what was on the tests that will likely determine how my school and my teaching are perceived by the general public.
Our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has strict rules for the administering of standardized tests, as do the departments that oversee these winner-take-all exams in the other 49 states.
During a mandatory meeting several days before the test, teachers were told they were not to do the following things:
-Take a look at the contents of any test booklet.
-Talk about the tests with any of our fellow teachers
-Ask our students any questions about the tests once they were finished taking them
We are not even allowed to make sure the students are actually doing the tests, even though their lack of effort could have an impact on our jobs.
A student can leave everything blank, flip a coin before answering, or just lean back and take a nap, and we can’t do a thing about it.
And this is what the so-called educational reformers want to use to determine how much we are paid?
In the Missouri House last week, a portion of HB 1526 calling for teacher pay to be determined by these very tests was removed, even though the end result was not much better. The part of the bill that passed and is now in the Senate eliminates the use of seniority in determining teacher layoffs, a move to designed to open the door to using standardized tests for pay decisions and, of course, eliminating tenure.
It will surprise those who have read my past blogs to know that I am willing to compromise on this issue.
Let’s base 100 percent of teacher pay on the results of standardized tests. Make it all or nothing, but if we are to have true educational reform, a concept that seems to be lost when used by those who claim that mantle, I want the following conditions:
-After schools have given the tests and they have been graded, a complete copy of the tests and the answers must be posted online. End this ridiculous secrecy and let the public see just how bad these tests, which cost millions of dollars per year, really are.
-Place a complete ban on testing companies selling test prep materials. These are turning our schools into test-taking factories and eliminating learning. In fact, why don’t we simply take one test at the beginning of the year and take a similar test at the end of the year to see what the students have learned?
-Require all state legislators to take the same tests and post their scores online. My guess is my eighth graders’ scores would put the scores of legislators like Sen. Jane Cunningham, and Majority Leader and future Speaker of the House (and birther lawsuit plaintiff) Tim Jones to shame.
-Have legislative pay determined by a bunch of fools who know nothing about government. That would be similar to having education pay determined by a bunch of- well, you get the idea.
And while we’re at it, let’s take this movement nationwide.
Arne Duncan- Take this test!
I am not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.