As the 2017-18 academic year comes to an end, schools throughout our state have started preparing for state-mandated end-of-the-year tests. Throughout the year millions of dollars and valuable instructional time has been spent on test prep.
There is nothing wrong with holding teachers, administrators and students accountable. What is wrong is when we allow test preparation to destroy creativity and relevance, and we judge the entire school family on one test. Our politicians have never met a tax cut or a test they didn’t like. We label schools, districts, teachers and administrators based on end-of-the-year tests.
As a retired teacher, principal and state Department of Education employee, I have had to play the testing game too often and experienced firsthand its negative results.
I was a principal of an arts school that had a poverty index of less than 10 percent and was also a principal of another school that had the highest poverty index in the state. Teachers in high-poverty schools worked twice as hard as those in the lower poverty schools. Some of the best teachers I saw were in low-poverty schools. Yet when the scores came out, those dedicated teachers were treated as complete failures along with their students.
Let’s take all the test prep money and lower the teacher-pupil ratio. Let’s also place some district office employees in classrooms and let them model on a daily basis sound teaching strategies.
State legislators love to grade schools, so let’s grade the legislators on how they perform. We can even give them a flag to put on the Capitol dome. I can see it flying — a big F. And while we are passing out grades, let’s assign one for parenting. It takes more than the school to raise a child. It takes all those who touch their lives on a daily basis.
Accountability, yes, but let’s make it realistic, obtainable and relevant. Let’s treat educators as assets and not punching bags.
Brooks P. Moore
Blue House Road