Well, big surprise: President Obama’s dramatic announcement that No Child Left Behind would be, well, left behind has made little impact on the day-to-day realities in classrooms.
What I really mean by this is that we are still saddled with high-stakes testing. I don’t teach a tested subject, but I can see the heavy hearts of those teachers in my school who do.
Here’s a conundrum about it all:
Our state, along with many others, has adopted the Common Core Curriculum. It is fantastic! Just take a look at the great content in the common core. The math core is absolutely wonderful, because it teaches thinking skills, not just memorization of formulas and facts. Our junior-high math teachers are excited to take this on.
But get this: the end-of-year tests still evaluate the content in the standard pre-algebra, algebra, geometry curriculum and are not linked to the common core at all, despite the fact that most of the United States has adopted it.
One of my school’s math teachers, Scott, told us all about this at our recent faculty meeting. He explained that test designers feel that they cannot produce a usable test in time for the end of year tests.
A year, my friends! We teachers are expected to skillfully adopt a whole new curriculum (and we love it), but nobody could pull together a group of teachers, administrators, writers, what have you, to produce a viable test within the school year.
What does this mean? It means that at the end of the year, those teachers who have heartfully adopted the common core curriculum will no doubt be penalized because their students aren’t being “taught to the test” and therefore may not possess all the particular skills tested in the end-of-year tests.
Two choices: take the higher road and teach the common core and maybe not pass the tests, or ignore the state directive to teach the common core and teach to the test and achieve competitive scores.
I am proud to say that our math teachers are going to take the higher road and just live with the high-stakes consequences. But really! Two roads are diverging in a dark and difficult wood (high-stakes end of year testing). Why not just make a pleasing clearing in the woods and get rid of the testing? Everyone knows that as we approach 2012, when all students will all achieve 100% in all subject areas, nobody will eventually make AYP. There never can be 100%.