What Scares Me

There is a lot of misinformation, intention (good and bad), double speak, and confusion floating around these days about standardized testing and its myriad uses. I’d like to go on record about this, and about why I object to the use of standardized tests as part of educator evaluations.

What scares me about using standardized test scores in educator evaluations is NOT fear of being held accountable for the scores of my students because I am a bad teacher.

What scares me is the students who have a bad day and bomb the test, or don’t take the test seriously and bomb it, or are all tested out and bomb it, or didn’t get enough sleep or enough to eat or had no where to stay or had a fight with a best friend or…. And bomb the test.

What scares me is there being no good back-up plan for when something planned OR unplanned happens and I miss part of the school year because I had a baby or cancer surgery, and my students don’t have the benefit of my teaching, yet my worth and value as an educator is still based on their test scores.

What scares me is the thought of losing my entire livelihood due to any combination of those factors, my family losing their home and security.

What scares me the most is how no one who has the power to make a difference seems to see the reality of the situation, to listen and take action.

Would you live with that fear?

Think about it honestly. If you knew you would be fired because your patients had a high mortality rate, would you become an oncologist?

If you knew you would be fired because you didn’t get the EPA estimated gas mileage out of your bus on its daily route, would you become a driver?

If you knew you would be fired because too many people didn’t return their items on time, would you become a librarian?

Certainly, in any profession there must be accountability for performance of job duties. I have zero issue with being evaluated based on working my expected hours, getting the job done right even if it means working unpaid hours, being prepared, attending meetings, delivering engaging lessons, and even demonstrating that my students are gaining knowledge in my class. I wrote a whole post on that once…

What I DO have an issue with is a test that exists for the sole purpose of evaluating student learning with the end goal of using that knowledge to close schools and fire educators.

What I DO have an issue with is spending thousands, millions, even billions of dollars on these tests, money that would be much better spent in the classrooms using a well-crafted, need-based funding method.

What I DO have an issue with is folks openly discussing the underserved, “failing” student populations while stubbornly clinging to the belief that somehow the diverting of funds from the classrooms to the testing system will make things better. What good is identifying these students if we’re not going to make significant, real changes to the very system that is forcing the inequities in education?

What scares me is that this seems for all the world like straight up common sense to me, yet I am clearly in the minority. And there would appear to be nothing I can do about that.

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8 Responses to What Scares Me

  1. It’s rare we get a post from you these days, but I always know when we do it will be something really great. Thanks for showing us the realistic point of view from the teacher perspective!

    • jax2816 says:

      I was reading through my old blog posts and realized how much of this I’ve been saying all along. That’s why there are so many links in this post!

  2. Eve Buckley says:

    This would make a great DE Voices column, in NewsJrnl.

  3. kavips says:

    Scaredy Cat….. 😛

    Would you like a hamburger? 🙂 ❤

  4. John Q says:

    You have used a variety of techniques here to manipulate the readers. But as I trust that you statistically realize, one or two students with a bad day are not going to tank “your” Component-5. And you did not consider that one or two students who ace the tests because of things beyond your classroom that you did not contribute to but nonetheless benefit from ……. those couple of students are also helping you in “your” Component-5. If you want to exclude students with a bad day from your evaluation then you should also agree to exclude students who purchased supplemental education from Kumon etcetera.

    So stop whining. You were hired to operate a classroom with the purpose of ensuring that kids emerge with learning capability and capacity. So do your job. Teach so that students learn. If that is not what you want to do, and be successful at, then you really should find another job.

    John Q Public who pays your salary, current benefits, pension rights and union fees.

    • jax2816 says:

      I appreciate your compliment on my writing, but I have not intentionally tried to manipulate anyone with my writing. Quite the contrary; if you read through my older posts you’ll see that I typically try to use facts and data when I make statements. Your point was well-taken until you started the “I pay your salary” line. Technically, I pay my own salary, and the capitalistic system ensures we all pay one another’s salaries, so come out of hiding and let’s talk as real people with real names or go peddle your rudeness elsewhere.

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