Dawn Neely-Randall - Last spring, you wouldn’t find the fifth-graders in my Language Arts class reading as many rich, engaging pieces of literature as they had in the past or huddled over the same number of authentic projects as before. Why? Because I had to stop teaching to give them a Common Core Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers online sample test that would prepare them for the upcoming PARCC pilot pre-test which would then prepare them for the PARCC pilot post test – all while taking the official Ohio Achievement Tests. This amounted to three tests, each 2 ½ hours, in a single week, the scores of which would determine the academic track students would be placed on in middle school the following year.
In addition to all of that, I had to stop their test prep lessons (also a load of fun) to take each class three floors down to our computer lab so they could take the Standardized Testing and Reporting tests so graphs and charts could be made of their Student Growth Percentile which would then provide quantitative evidence to suggest how these 10-year-olds would do on the “real” tests and also surmise the teacher’s (my) affect on their learning.
Tests, tests, and more freakin’ tests.
And this is how I truly feel in my teacher’s heart: the state is destroying the cherished seven hours I have been given to teach my students reading and writing each week, and these children will never be able to get those foundational moments back. Add to that the hours of testing they have already endured in years past, as well as all the hours of testing they still have facing them in the years to come. I consider this an unconscionable a theft of precious childhood time.
One parent sent me her district’s calendar showing that students would complete 21 mandated (K-3) assessments before a child would even finish third grade. When I asked an Ohio Department of Education employee about this, she insisted there were not that many tests. When I read them to her one by one from the district’s calendar, she defended her position by saying that some of them were not from her department, but from another one. “But it’s the SAME kid!!!” I told her.
Indeed, it sure seems that school just isn’t for children anymore.