Friday, March 30, 2012

On Tears and Tests

I spoke to a teacher recently and she told me this story:

One of the better students in her AP English class approached her desk teary-eyed and accompanied by a close friend. The girl said, "I am leaving school. My mother is moving us closer to the boyfriend"--the last two words dripping with distaste. The teacher admitted regrettably that her first words in response were: "But we need your test score!" She recovered with "I am so sorry to hear that" and other words of consolation and support. But she was shocked and dismayed at how co-opted she had become by a mindset that puts tests results ahead of students.

I firmly believe that no teacher ever got into teaching to raise standardized test scores--given once a year--as high as possible.  I firmly believe that teachers were and are called into this profession and remain in this profession for an incredibly rich constellation of factors that include everything from passion for a subject to love for young people and a desire to help them reach their full potential.  And I firmly believe that teachers, like the one with whom I spoke, recognizing that they have been co-opted can and will make choices in words and actions that express that calling.

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