When my daughter was in 4th grade, her teacher was trying to ensure that students would do their very best on their annual tests, so he told the students to ask their parents why they take the (AIMS) test (at that time the kids were still taking the Stanford 9 standardized tests). My daughter told her teacher that her Mom said we take these tests to raise our property values. Luckily, he had a sense of humor.
laughed! Unfortunately, high stakes testing are no laughing matter.
I believed back then, and I still firmly believe now, that testing – like the
AIMS testing, is not intended to help students. It is, in fact, actually
Testing week is
the most dreaded week of the entire school year, the only ones who hate testing
week more than the students are the teachers. Teachers are under great
pressure to achieve scores, their pay and evaluations now depend on student
scores. They often spend the two or three weeks before the test
frantically reviewing all the concepts they have taught during the entire
school year. Administrators are frantic trying to ensure that every child
is tested, regardless of whether students are sick or even physically unable to
take the test. All of this stress is felt by the students, and those with
test anxiety are almost frozen with fear. The stress in the air is almost
like a visible cloud.
week, teachers must come in early each day to officially count their test
packets and check them out from an administrator's office (who must keep the
test under lock and key) and then they must check them back in at the end of
the school day. Teachers are not permitted to assist students in any way,
they are not even allowed to look at test questions (yet they are responsible
to make sure children pass the test by answering questions that teachers have
not ever seen - enjoy the irony). Some students simply give up & they begin to
bubble in random circles, teachers see this, but cannot do anything about it
except to realize that their evaluation score and salary are now in jeopardy by
a student who simply doesn’t care or is too defeated to continue trying.
students spend 3-4 hours each morning testing, and then teachers are expected
to continue to teach students in the afternoon. Students are tired and
cranky from testing all morning and are in no way interested in doing more
mental work. Teachers struggle valiantly to control and manage the
students until the end of the school day and then, after checking the tests
back in to the administrator, the teacher drags him or herself home only to
repeat this torture for 4 more days.
Once the scores
are released by the state, they are posted in the newspaper and shared on the TV
news and lots of so-called experts jump in to ask "is our children learning?"
adding fuel to the legislative firestorm that is already so anti-teacher in
this state that it is mind-boggling. In the past, these legislators were
extremely concerned that so many students were unable to pass these ill-conceived and
poorly designed tests, so they lowered the passing score, rather than address
the systemic problems of the tests.
Yes – I have
always disliked these tests, and after working as a teacher for the past 8
years – I am more convinced than ever that I was right – These tests are not
designed to help children.