Home > Uncategorized > Astrophysicist Gets It! Standardized Tests Are Driving Instruction… and Driving Creative Teachers Out

Astrophysicist Gets It! Standardized Tests Are Driving Instruction… and Driving Creative Teachers Out

December 12, 2017

Diane Ravitch’s post yesterday linked to a Forbes article by astrophysicist and author Ethan Siegel that bemoans the effect standardized tests are having on teaching. In the article he notes that since NCLB was passed in 2001, teachers in most districts across the country have been focussed on one goal and one goal only: get the test scores higher! As a result some districts have adopted programs that provide scripts for teachers to read to their classes in lieu of improvising based on the immediate feedback they receive from children based on their responses to what the teacher is presenting or the impact of their day-to-day experiences outside of school. The result? The best and brightest and most creative teachers are being driven out of the classroom. As Mr. Siegel writes at the conclusion of his article:

By taking away the freedom to innovate, we aren’t improving the outcomes of the worst teachers or even average teachers; we’re simply telling the good ones that their skills and talents aren’t needed here. By refusing to treat teachers like professionals — by failing to empower them to teach students in the best way that they see fit — we demonstrate the simple fact that we don’t trust them to do a good job, or even to understand what doing a good job looks like. Until we abandon the failed education model we’ve adopted since the start of the 21st century, public education will continue to be broken. As long as we insist on telling teachers what to teach and how to teach it, we’ll continue to fail our children.

Unfortunately, Mr. Siegel is a voice in the wilderness… for ESSA, like RTTT, picks up where NCLB left off. Instead of insisting that test-based metrics be abandoned it reinforces the need for standardized testing but delegates the content to be tested and the nature of the standardization to the states, none of whom are using their new found power to introduce anything new in the way of assessments according to a recent study reported on in Education Week. And so our failure persists….

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