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A concerned member of the human race

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Duh!

Three or four years back, I first heard that some brainy trust was thinking we needed a test for this and a test for that, a test for everything.  Everyone needs to be accountable.  And, accountability can only be measured through tests.  I hear the same from some circles today.

Sometimes, I just wish I could teach a grade that is not tested high-stakes style and one for which I am not asked by my A.P. to give uniform assessments, quartlerlies, mid-terms and finals that interfere with my instruction.  I used to love teaching U.S. history, but now our students must take their Regents at the end of eleventh-grade, as opposed to the old schedule, calling for testing in twelfth grade.  We must spend over a month prepping.  The students take the U.S. History and Government without the benefit of a semester of U.S. government.  The basics are crammed into the history class, allowing students one additional chance to pass in senior year, if necessary.  It's testamania gone wild to the detriment of the curriculum.

I love teaching ninth-grade history.  Not only do I have a fondness for my ancient ancestors, but there is no Regents for which I must spend a month and a half at hard prep.  Still, I must administer a string of department-wide assessments.  I would rather make my own tests throughout the year to better reflect my own teaching.  I think I could quite happily teach only ninth-grade classes, if it could just be, but I think I will always be drafted to help prep at least some kids for their Global History and Geography Regents at the end of the tenth-grade year.  It makes sense to me, but I doubt that "the powers that think they be" would ever consider just letting teachers teach and calling in Stanley Kaplan to help kids specifically prep for tests.  

I saw how Farina recently spoke of the necessity of teaching social studies in the lower grades even though the subject is not tested. And, I love the attitude.  Alas, I wish it could be so.  But as some teachers seemed to indicate, what is not tested will hardly be taught in this world of high-stakes, Common-Core aligned testing accountability.  Students will focus on their reading and math in the hopes of elevating scores.  Social studies will figure somewhere along with science as a second-tier subject.  So, when students reach high-school, we are supposed to assume that they have been aligned to a framework which may in reality be meaningless.  

Have you ever asked yourself if the people who favor these endless batteries of high-stakes tests are themselves accountable?  And, if so, is it by a test?  When was the last time they took a test?  Ob-la-di, Ob-la-duh!  "Life goes on, brah.  La-la, how the life goes on..."

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