A teacher laments test-dominated classrooms. A researcher explains resulting anxieties in teachers and students.

testing (Medium)I received an email from a new teacher. The teacher is not a recent college grad, but someone making a mid-life career switch.

At her high school, she says all she hears is, “It’s not on the End of Course Test so don’t teach it…our focus is the EOCT.”

Her question to me was: “I thought no one was to know what was on those tests?  The kids are getting a buckshot education…a lot of little facts scattered about with nothing to pull them together. Frustrating.”

With that comment as a backdrop, I would like to share an op-ed by  Stephanie Jones, an associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Elementary and Social Studies Education at the University of Georgia and co-director of the CLASSroom Project at UGA

I thought the teacher’s comment and Jones’ piece intersect on the point of scripted and restrained teaching;

By Stephanie Jones

What’s the low morale and crying about in education these days? Mandatory dehumanization and emotional policy-making – that’s what.

The first murmurs I heard about teachers in crisis came from a principal several years ago. Teachers were streaming into his office seeking counseling services. Many were taking anti-depressants. Some couldn’t sleep at night, and some were so anxious and stressed they were worried their families would suffer irreparable damage.

Teachers enter the profession to do what is best for the students in front of them and for society at large. They earn degrees, immersed in rigorous study of how and why humans learn, how to individualize instruction, and how to inspire lifelong learning and engaged citizenship.

But individualization, inspiration, and engagement aren’t in current policies, and neither is teachers’ professional knowledge. Instead teachers must follow pacing guides and move on with assignments regardless of whether students are beyond or behind. Anyone can walk into a teacher’s classroom at any moment and evaluate whether the teacher is following the one-size-fits-all program with “fidelity” and “full compliance.”

The choices are soul-crushing: 1) Slow down, teach creatively and get students excited about a topic, but fall behind the pacing guide and receive a poor evaluation and possible humiliation and job loss; or 2) Move on with the pacing guide and ignore students’ pleas for help or their yearning to learn more, and evaluations might be fine, but students suffer.

Most teachers do a little of both, but their no-win situation is devastating. And when students’ needs aren’t met because teachers are following mandates, they also cry or cry out in other ways.

I’ve witnessed sobbing children in school, tears streaking cheeks. Their bodies rejecting the relentless mistreatment they receive from impersonal curriculum, strict limitations on socializing and movement, and harsh punishments for child-like behavior. Students reject dehumanization.

When children hold it together at school they often fall apart at home. Yelling, slamming doors, wetting the bed, having bad dreams, begging parents not to send them back to school.

Some parents seek therapy for their children. More parents than ever feel pressured to medicate their children so they can make it through school days. Others make the gut-wrenching decision to pull their children from public schools to protect their dignity, sanity, and souls. Desperate parents choose routes they have never considered: homeschooling, co-op schooling, or when they can afford it, private schooling. But most parents suffer in silence, managing constant family conflict.

Some people might say that crying is an expression of emotion and that it ought to be kept private. Some might even say crying is a sign of irrationality, of over-sensitivity, of hysteria – all insults used to pathologize women (most teachers and all mothers) for at least 100 years.

However, teachers, students, and parents are not the only emotional players in the unbearable game of school.

Policy makers are emotional. Punitive policies forcing the impossible combination of rigidity and test-based accountability are produced out of fear, anger, distrust, and arrogance. They are written in an irrational effort to control the bodies that fill schools every day.

But policy makers don’t have to endure the physical and psychological effects of their policies – those of us in schools do.

It’s time to stand in solidarity against mandated dehumanization in one-size-fits-all schooling and against over-emotional policy makers who have a reckless stranglehold on schools. Demand that humanity be returned to teachers, students, and parents who know how to make schools dynamic, inspirational places where everyone can thrive.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

72 comments Add your comment

Double Zero Eight

March 13th, 2012
12:04 pm

Our students are doomed to fail with the “one size fits all”
approach to education.

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
12:05 pm

“They earn degrees, immersed in rigorous study of how and why humans learn, how to individualize instruction, and how to inspire lifelong learning and engaged citizenship.”

As much as I try to remember that, it does get hard when your school gets a performance ranking of NI. It is indeed tough to balance the need for engaging learning with the need to pass the test. Someday…

“But individualization, inspiration, and engagement aren’t in current policies, and neither is teachers’ professional knowledge”

The way the legislature and a good percentage of the general public judge us, our professional knowledge isn’t recognized or respected. I know that’s a dicey subject with all the negatives we hear about, but the vast majority of us do know what we’re doing and have some ideas about how to improve that noone seems to want to hear.

d

March 13th, 2012
12:08 pm

“The choices are soul-crushing: 1) Slow down, teach creatively and get students excited about a topic, but fall behind the pacing guide and receive a poor evaluation and possible humiliation and job loss; or 2) Move on with the pacing guide and ignore students’ pleas for help or their yearning to learn more, and evaluations might be fine, but students suffer.”…..
Dead on. I am actually taking time today to do a simulation of the choices families had to make during the Great Depression and the interdependency of the “families” in their fictional town. I am hoping that it will help students see the links between the US History that they studied last year and the Economics they are studying this year. My first period seemed to enjoy it, one class did not take it seriously at all, and the third class is doing quite well (they are at lunch as I type this response). Is The Great Depression in the Economics GPS? Not at all SSEMA1e states: “Define the stages of the business cycle, include peak, contraction, trough, recovery, expansion as well as recession and depression.” Well I can define depression easy enough and move on, but as Ben Bernanke states, “If you want to learn geology, you study earthquakes. If you want to learn economics, you study the Great Depression.” Students need a better understanding of the choices and consequences on the macro level of the decisions they make. So I’ll be a day behind, but the students will be better off.

Paulo977

March 13th, 2012
12:18 pm

Stephanie Jones :It’s time to stand in solidarity against mandated dehumanization in one-size-fits-all schooling and against over-emotional policy makers who have a reckless stranglehold on schools. Demand that humanity be returned to teachers, students, and parents who know how to make schools dynamic, inspirational places where everyone can thrive.
___________________________________________________

Is it possible to replace Arne Duncan with Stephanie Jones???

OMG America what are we continuing to do to kids on the pretext that we are educating them?

Paulo977

March 13th, 2012
12:21 pm

d : I am actually taking time today to do a simulation of the choices families had to make during the Great Depression and the interdependency of the “families” in their fictional town. I am hoping that it will help students see the links between the US History that they studied last year and the Economics they are studying this year.
__________________________________________

Right on !!!!! How many of you are there still left?

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
12:27 pm

Paulo- there are more left than you might think. We bend to the pressure, but only so much. It’s a difficult balance to keep, but many do. The problem is twofold: too much testing combined with curricula designed by non-educators who decided that more rigor simply meant more material in less time.

[...] Here’s the piece. [...]

carlosgvv

March 13th, 2012
12:42 pm

“The kids are getting a buckshot education” And, we keep falling further and further behind China and most European countries in educational achievment.

Ronin

March 13th, 2012
12:43 pm

Gonna call B.S. on this piece of drama:

The paragraph: “Some parents seek therapy for their children. More parents than ever feel pressured to medicate their children so they can make it through school days. Others make the gut-wrenching decision to pull their children from public schools to protect their dignity, sanity, and souls. Desperate parents choose routes they have never considered: homeschooling, co-op schooling, or when they can afford it, private schooling. But most parents suffer in silence, managing constant family conflict

1. If you have to give you kid Prozac or another SSRI drug due to the school environment, you should remove them from the environment, not drug them.

2. A gut wrenching decision to remove them from public/government school to save their sanity? Again, if the environment is the issue, simply remove them and find an alternative to traditional district school. There should be nothing gut wrenching about that decision.

3. Desperate parents decide to home school? That’s ridiculous. Home school, virtual schools are options to consider but not for everyone.

If you want to experience real dehumanization, spend a few months of your life at Paris Island in S.C., the USMC doesn’t care if you’re human or not, long as you can pull the trigger.

While I understand the point Ms. Jones is making, her article is way over the top with DRAMA.

Principal Teacher

March 13th, 2012
12:46 pm

When you only teach to Standards you get standard children/citizens.

Paulo977

March 13th, 2012
12:49 pm

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
12:27 pm
_________________________________

I hear you …don’t give up . I have been there . The struggle is worth it !

Dr. Monica Henson

March 13th, 2012
12:52 pm

Pacing guides & scripted lessons are absolutely soul-crushing for teachers. These measures are an ill-advised attempt by administrators to force teachers to teach only to the tested standards, and if I were a teacher in a school that used this approach, I’d protest loudly. I was fortunate to be teaching in Massachusetts when the MCAS tests were first implemented for a principal and superintendent who listened to me when I posed my plan to them for teaching to the standards in a creative, engaging way that permitted me to continue thematic planning. I literally bet my students’ test scores that I was right, and I won that strategic bet for every year that I remained in Massachusetts classrooms, until I went over to the dark side and became an administrator myself. I have posted elsewhere on this blog at great length about the way that Commissioner David Driscoll led the implementation of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, which had a tremendous impact on me as a teacher and as a future school leader. I started my teaching career in Gwinnett County ten years before I moved to Massachusetts, and while it felt truly awful to have to follow the county scope and sequence to the letter in classroom teaching, at that time it was helpful to me as a brand-new, alternatively certified teacher with no previous “boot camp” type of experience that is provided now. I can see in retrospect that I could not have done the level of planning that I would have needed to do as a beginning teacher. What school districts have to start doing is distinguising between basic and developing teachers versus proficient and exemplary ones. It’s fine to direct the teaching of teachers who have not yet developed or demonstrated the ability to provide the type of instruction that students need to become successful; it’s insane to impose that direction on teachers who have demonstrated high levels of mastery of their craft. Master teachers ought to be the ones who direct the teaching of the less skilled. That would offer distributed leadership opportunities to experienced, excellent teachers and keep them motivated.

Scott

March 13th, 2012
1:00 pm

On the other hand… if it’s not important enough to be on the test, why teach about it? Or if you have extra time left over, teach on it then. Or assign it for an extra credit project. You actually have about 2-3 weeks of class left after an EOCT, so you can go back to those topics then.

d

March 13th, 2012
1:02 pm

@Scott – if you can get the children back…. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard – we took the *END OF COURSE* test and students check out. That’s rough. Frankly, we should do EOCTs via computer the last day or two of class and have that time to teach the GPS…. especially now that the online version will give instant scores.

skipper

March 13th, 2012
1:03 pm

The whole education system has become a joke; I realize there are hard working people trying to fix something, but the TEACHERS are the ones who know the real deal. They are on the front lines. The break-down of famlies and the acceptance and PROMOTION nowdays of behaviour that was once deemed abominable (or was illegal for that matter) is definitely a contributing factor. I know that as everyone gets older, the old “back in the day” comments become more frequent. However, when teachers were in charge and the principal would whoop your butt if you got out of line it worked. The breakdown of family, rewards by society for bad behaviour, and excuses and medical terms for every cotton-pickin’ thing from rudeness to deviancy is just plain wrong. So, the solution THEN becomes teaching the test and making robots out of folks????? My boss had an old saying: We may not yet have the answer, but what we are doing definitely is not working!” Time to scrap the one size fits all mentality.

dc

March 13th, 2012
1:04 pm

Sadly the world is tough, and getting tougher. I work with people from India and China all day long, who are smart, industrious, and make way less than American’s who do the same job. This is the world our kids are going to have to compete in. Not a political statement, just the way it’s going to be. For our kids to compete, they’d better be able to deal w/ a pressure filled world. Or they can go the way of the Greeks, and watch their value diminish to the point of 3rd world levels.

Sucks, but just how it is. And if they can’t deal w/ tests in school….then God help us as a country.

Dj

March 13th, 2012
1:09 pm

I teach US History in a rural county in Middle GA. Last year I had a student that was 18 in 10th grade classes. His read on a 3rd grade level. As much as I tried I could not teach him the information needed to pass the EOCT test. He wound up dropping out of school and I lost touch with him. One day last week he came to the school and stopped by my room. He wanted to think me for working with him as much as I could. He said that he received his GED and was now attending a technological college. I was proud of this young man for working hard, and attending college. When I got into teaching years ago I wanted to impact my students’ lives. Even though he did not pass the “test”, I believe I reached my goal with him. My problem is how do I reconcile my schools obsession with testing and data with the concept of preparing my students for life after high school?

atlmom

March 13th, 2012
1:10 pm

We love my child’s challenge class because they do so many innovative things in it – there is no ‘teaching to the test’ because there *is no* test. It’s a fantastic class, and I think ALL the classes in all the schools should be like that. They are actually learning there. It’s wonderful.
Last year, my son’s wonderful teacher was SO fantastic after the CRCT. It would have been nice for him to have the flexibility to teach like that throughout the year (he was a great teacher throughout the year, don’t get me wrong – but really he was and is so creative he was only allowed so much of that before the ‘testing’).
If only teachers were allowed to teach. *sigh*

skipper

March 13th, 2012
1:11 pm

@dc,
I, too have worked with some of these folks, and they do work hard and are educated. However, until the entitlement society came in and made excuses for laziness, sorriness, etc. we could (and still can) compete. Foreigners flock to our colleges and Universities to this day. Let it go back to teachers and principals and it will work. Poor parenting and defense of crappy attitudes has been a contributing factor that necessitated a “fix” from the get go.

teacher for life

March 13th, 2012
1:13 pm

AYP is dead in Georgia.
Are we upset because at the end of the year students are tested on what they learn?
Are teachers stressed out because they have to teach everything that is on the curriculum?
Are teachers upset because they learn they can’t teach something that isn’t in the curriculum and therefore isn’t on the test?

Maybe kids and teachers need to be a bit more stressed. The world is a tough place and getting tougher. We need to make sure that we have tough standards and tests that assess those standards so we know if teachers are teaching and students are learning.

Fericita

March 13th, 2012
1:18 pm

This is so true! It’s especially soul crushing that scripted lessons are coming at the same time as heightened accountability. So…I am the most responsible for my students at the same time I have no ability to choose how to teach?!

I hope that by the time I come back to teaching, teachers will again have autonomy.

Fericita

March 13th, 2012
1:22 pm

Scott – you say “if it’s not important enough to be on the test, why teach about it?”

In elementary school, that means we stop teaching writing after the writing test in early March, kids get pulled out of art, music, and other specials for extra math class, and we are told we can only teach science, social studies, and health “through the content areas” of reading and math. I’m not using hyperbole here, this is what a lot of Title I schools do.

Ashley

March 13th, 2012
1:30 pm

Doesn’t (EOTC) mean material they have covered for that year? What the difference between EOTC….mid-terms and finals? I realize it’s been thirty-six years since I was a high school senior, but students have always taken exams at the end of the school year. Someone please enlighten me.

Pluto

March 13th, 2012
1:34 pm

So we have one teacher that just gets about as creative as can be with physical science. Unfortunately, this teacher is not getting anywhere near the standards and even refuses to teach foundational chemistry to the class. So maybe the soul crushing scripted lessons have a place. Not all teachers are as good as some of you think you are!?!

Struthers

March 13th, 2012
1:39 pm

This is scary stuff. When I went to school, many years ago, we had teachers to whom students were accountable, and teachers rewarded good students by re-aligning desks to show the leading students as captains, and with good grades. Poor students were allowed to sit at the end of the rows, and do their times tables (they weren’t there to learn anything anyway, or they may have been incapable.) Now, everyone has to come out of the same cookie cutter. I would be very discouraged as a teacher too, if I had to dumb down everything to the lowest denominator. And kids welcome pressure it i applied properly and consistently. Not sure why taking tests is so traumatic.

AMD

March 13th, 2012
1:44 pm

“They earn degrees, immersed in rigorous study of …”

Rigorous study? Are you sure you are talking about the College of Education where students come from the lowest rung of high school graduates? You might want to check your fact before using words like rigorous study on the college of edukation.

d

March 13th, 2012
1:48 pm

@Ashley – the EOCT is a state test that replaces the teacher final exam – there are only two issues I really have with it. 1) It is given 2-3 weeks before the actual end of the course, which actually means I have to accelerate the content to meet that deadline and 2) I risk losing my certificate if I actually read the test – so I have to trust that it is written in a way that is true to the standards and I cannot offer any suggestions to students if they don’t understand how a question is written.

world we live in, in cobb

March 13th, 2012
1:50 pm

@Ronin – your analogy in faulty – people choose to join the Marine Corps and go to Paris Island. Students from the age of 5-18 do not get to choose educational options/curricula…
Granted some things in the op-ed may have been overstated, but where we are right now in the education spectrum -we need overstated, dramatic responses. Hopefully it will wake people up!!!

Old Physics Teacher

March 13th, 2012
1:51 pm

So Pluto, what about the teachers who happen to know their subjects extraordinarily well (BS in field)? What happens when the student asks WHY this concept works? “Why” is not a consideration on any EOCT. Our choices are to answer the student and go off on a tangent from the course, or to tell him/her the dreaded “see me after school.” There’s no good answer here. That’s because educarats (combined state legislature/do-gooder Department of Education personnel) make the decisions now.

Why is it like this, you ask? Well children, gather around and listen while I go off on a tangent and get off the lesson plan. Close the door so the administrators don’t look in from the hall and see me off topic. Charlie? Watch the door and let me know if someone starts to come in and we’ll get back “on lesson.”

Legislators – most of whom are lawyers, think they know best how students learn. They don’t. The only experience they have with education is their going to school as children. That doesn’t stop those busy-bodies though. The “people” elected them to “fix education.” No they didn’t, but that fact has long been forgotten. Every change they make, makes things worse than it was before. That forces them to change something else and see if that works. We the people accept that attempt – because they’re not “bad” people, and they’re trying so hard and say, well… they’re trying hard to fix the problem, AND NO ONE REALIZES THAT THE LEGISLATURE IS THE PROBLEM ITSELF. Charlie, what’s that? Oh, an Assistant Principal is right outside the door? OK, kids let’s get back in rows and start notes: “Newton had three laws…

Old Physics Teacher

March 13th, 2012
1:58 pm

AMD,

You’re right. The courses in COE are crip courses… The extra 2 quarters (over the four-year regular degree) I had to attend we wasted as far as I’m concerned, but the State required them – so I took them. But you’re looking at the wrong courses. I took a full BS in Chem course from UGA. I am missing one inorganic course, and one organic course, and one analytical course, but other than that I’m a BS in Chem. So are my fellow teachers in the other disciplines. Now you want to dis the rigor of the courses in early childhood, talk to one of them, but at the high school level, we’re qualified to step into a professional job as we graduate.

Old Physics Teacher

March 13th, 2012
2:03 pm

Pluto,

I forgot and didn’t respond to your earlier. We’re upset because we are being held accountable for ALL students learning the “basics” – even the slowest ones. You might want to check another paper from Florida. One of the Florida State BOE members couldn’t pass the Florida Math end of course test for 10th graders. Here’s a successful businessman who can’t pass a 10th grade math test. Either the businessman is incapable of learning, or the teacher that taught him in the 10th grade was a “loser,” right? NO! Either the test was a waste of time, or he’s not a successful businessman. One or the other.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 13th, 2012
2:04 pm

All this time I’ve thought that learning how to overcome anxiety was a skill essential to responsible adult living.

Ashley

March 13th, 2012
2:06 pm

What kind of final exam doesn’t have the teachers input? It would appear the state is over-stepping, teachers are suppose to be creative and resourceful, they are the ones who actually know the students and what they are capable of. We need to take bureaucrats out of the classrooms and put teachers back in. Thank God my teachers weren’t delegated to the role of robots.

Pluto

March 13th, 2012
2:12 pm

@ Old Physics Teacher
Physics is my calling as well and any teacher worth their salt would never have any qualms about going off on a tangent for student’s inquisitiveness if it was germane to the lesson (or maybe not). I got into teaching by means of the back door, TAPP. I have BS and MS in forestry and accidently minored in a bunch of disciplines but don’t wear it on my sleave. As far as educrats and dingbats, I have no control of them so I just try to instill passion where I can.

Dr. John Trotter

March 13th, 2012
2:50 pm

Maureen, it certainly is cause for a good chuckle when I see more and more of your blogs discussing on point the very things for which MACE has been advocating for these past 17 years. Ha! I do indeed get a kick out of the latter day revelations that certain professors and others are receiving from the educational heavens about the inordinate time, money, and energy spent on standardized testing and the paucity of attention given to classroom discipline. To hear these educational pundits now speaking out for less standardized testing and more classroom discipline certainly heartens me and reassures me that I am not crazy after all! Ha!

Actually, I have never doubted my sanity on these matters, and I have always stuck “to my guns,” so to speak – even when all of the false prophets at the Georgia General Assembly, the Georgia Department of Education, and the colleges of education in the State may have thought that I was a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

In the first issue of MACE’s publication, The Teacher’s Advocate!, published in 1995, we called for “quelling the mania over standardized testing.” We called for teachers being supported in the classroom when it came to issues like discipline and creativity. In fact, the very mantra that we still use at MACE today (“You can have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.”) was spelled out in the first article of this first publication. For years, we felt like the lone wolf in the wilderness. I am glad indeed to see you publishing articles about others interested in education enough to speak out on these very pertinent concerns.

This reminds me of children growing up and realizing that their parents all of a sudden got smarter! Actually, it was the kids who got smarter. The parents’ positions had not changed. MACE has not changed one iota since our beginning in 1995. I don’t think that anyone can point out a scintilla of evidence that demonstrates that the Metro Association of Classroom Educators had “evolved” over the years. No, we are just as “crazy” as ever, but some educational pundits may have evolved closer to the positions that MACE has been espousing for these 17 years. Hence, these pundits may think that we are not as “crazy” as we used to be. I assure you that we are just as crazy now as before for teachers being supported in the classroom as they seek to establish and maintain discipline or when it comes to respecting the teachers’ creativity, knowledge, wisdom, and judgment in the areas of methodology, pedagogy, and curricula selection (with curriculum guidelines being followed, of course). It’s not that MACE has suddenly gotten smart. No, MACE’s position has never changed; it is the pundits who have suddenly wised up to the positions that we have espoused from the very beginning.

We have several articles written these past few years on the false gods of standardized tests.

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

My Two Cents

March 13th, 2012
2:57 pm

Ashley, EOCTs don’t come at the EOC — it’s been a few years since I taught in GA, but at least as recently as 2006, the EOCTS came in April, although school doesn’t end ’til May. Between the month-early testing and the TWENTY school days we lost for other testing stuff (PSAT, Gateway, etc.), the kids took their End-of-Course tests without a full two months of school they should hav had. Things are, indeed, very different from the experience you had thirty-six years ago.
Moreover, the exams are very rote (yes, even the “critical thinking” questions, ultimately, are rote), when it’s beaten into teachers’ brains to be creative and NOT rote. So the educrats talk out of both sides of their mouths.

bootney farnsworth

March 13th, 2012
3:02 pm

the last thing the business of education is concerned with is actuallt educating.

bootney farnsworth

March 13th, 2012
3:05 pm

it’s really very simple. the business of education, and the morons in DC who regulate it do not want kids to think.

the last thing any of those bozos want is a genuinely bright, well educated populace.

’cause then they might ask questions and not blindly do what they’re told.

Beverly Fraud

March 13th, 2012
3:23 pm

“Maybe kids and teachers need to be a bit more stressed. The world is a tough place and getting tougher.”

Yep, and there’s a real high demand for BUBBLING IN OVALS!

Ronin

March 13th, 2012
3:39 pm

@world we live in, in cobb: that was not my point. The point is, the so called “dehumanizing” due to the rigors or education are inflated. Cookie cutter schools are supposed to be everything to everyone and, in my opinion, are failing miserably. First, you have to segregate the children who want to learn from those who don’t.

As far as you comment: “-we need overstated, dramatic responses”. I disagree, we need accurate and fact based responses from outside the scope of the normal educrat.

Maybe the Charter option will gain some traction and offer students more options that are science, math or engineering specific.

You can blame most of the current issues on Dr. Benjamin Spock.

Brandy

March 13th, 2012
4:12 pm

The article is spot on, if a bit melodramatic at points. One issue I have with it (the only one, really) is the usage of the phrase “crocodile tears”. I am (hoping) thinking that the author of this piece misunderstood the meaning of that phrase. Crocodile tears are false tears, ones meant to garner sympathy but with no sadness or emotion behind them. If she really meant crocodile tears, then her whole piece is negated with that phrase choice. If she didn’t perhaps, this error could be corrected?

Maureen Downey

March 13th, 2012
4:16 pm

@Brandy, I agree and have sent Dr. Jones a note about that line.
Maureen

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C Jae of EAV

March 13th, 2012
5:01 pm

@Old Physics Teacher – You may be surprised that the GA legislature has a number of former educators or education adminstrators within its ranks. Not that it has improved the quality of the edu public policy they produce.

Ronin

March 13th, 2012
5:10 pm

Brandy, you’re correct, “crocodile tears” would not be the correct context for this article, unless Ms. Jones implied that the children were being manipulative or deceiving. I see it has been sentence has been corrected.

Brandy

March 13th, 2012
6:59 pm

@Maureen, Thanks!

Ron C.

March 13th, 2012
7:05 pm

As a teacher in the public schools today, this article is right on about the impersonal–and impossible–fast-paced curriculum. Teaching has to be among the most stressful professions! I know teachers who are calling it quits, as the school system asks too much of its employees.

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
7:46 pm

@teacher for life: wouldn’t you agree that these tests are basic skills tests in reality? There really isn’t much critical thinking challenge on them. That’s what I object to about “teaching to the test.” It’s nothing but regurgitation of facts that might or might not be on the test. Are the tests the foundation of the teaching or the walls and ceilings as well? If they are the foundation, then we should be teaching beyond them. Scores don’t change much over the long haul because over time we have reduced teaching AND learning to a point where little matters beyond what might be tested. How is that good for kids? They can answer multiple-choice questions all day long. But ask them why, and you can hear the flourescent lights buzzing…

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
7:52 pm

Unfortunately, in the quest for “more rigor”, the educrats interpreted that idea as “more material”. Ironically, we’re teaching more, teaching it in less depth, and producing kids who can take tests but not think critically. Really look at the maps for the current performance standards and then survey teachers as to how many are able to “cover” it all in a year. And that’s what it’s about- covering, or quickly teaching lots of material without any time to truly differentiate instruction so all kids can keep up. Until we realize that more curriculum isn’t better curriculum, we’re just going to keep covering it and the test results won’t improve.