As a math department chairman, I am often referred to as a “tested area” chairman. I am no longer a math chairman or an academic course chairman. This label says a lot about my role as a chairman and a teacher. I am responsible for collecting, analyzing, and monitoring data. I attend numerous meetings about testing and data. I often wonder if it would be better to be responsible for a non-tested course.
Are there any advantages to being a teacher of a tested course? This is a difficult question. It is easy to list the disadvantages such as the pressure of obtaining high pass rates, the lack of control in creating the assessment, the overall stress to perform, etc.
On the flip side, there really are some advantages. Testing does set standards and expectations across the board. We might not agree with those expectations, but at the very least there is no question about what should be taught. Looking beyond the amount of work and time required, the collection of data can also be viewed as an advantage. Data can provide a teacher with a lot of information about his or her teaching and about his or her students. Data can be a great tool for determining what should be retaught and reviewed.
The bottom line is that testing is not going away. To be successful, we need to continue on the path of good teaching and find the positive side of assessment.