Adrienne Ross: Missouri Voters Decide on Standardized Tests

Former C4P contributor, Adrienne Ross has a great piece up over at Breitbart News.

This comes on the same day that Governor Palin published an informative video where she discusses Common Core over the Sarah Palin Channel.

Ross’s article comes not only with her talent for great writing, but also with seventeen years of experience as a former teacher herself.

While education has always been a key issue for families, the emergence of the Common Core standards and discussions about how tests aligned to the standards impact students, teachers, and even elections have made education more of a hot button issue than ever before. Tuesday’s Election Day puts the issue front and center in Missouri, where voters will decide if their state Constitution will be amended to link standardized tests to teacher evaluations.

Amendment 3 is on the ballot in Missouri, and its purpose, in part, is to “require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system” and “require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system.”

Having taught English Language Arts in New York for over seventeen years, and having spent the last part of my teaching career under the mandates of the Common Core, I know firsthand how damaging standardized testing is—to students, as well as educators. I understand that the classroom dynamic completely changes when assessments are used to evaluate teacher performance.

Before I resigned in October of 2013 and moved to Missouri, I had heard the arguments that well-meaning—albeit misguided—non-educators make about how important it is for “those teachers to be held accountable.” Accountability is necessary; every teacher will admit that, and every good teacher even desires that. But accountability is only as good as its methods.

While many seek to dismiss teachers’ concerns about being judged by students’ standardized test scores, reality—the reality that many teachers have personally lived—provides reasons not to go down that road.

[…]

From my experience in New York, students feel the weight of these tests on their shoulders more than anyone. Not only do students carry the pressure to perform, they are weighted with the knowledge that their performance has a lasting effect on teachers. If they like a teacher, they want desperately to perform well for him or her. If they do not like a teacher, some view the test as an opportunity to get even. And in New York, where students are evaluated on several tests to demonstrate improvement over time, students actually ask, “Is this the test I’m not supposed to do well on?” Yes, they will purposely underperform so that they manage to show growth down the road. No wonder students are responding “viscerally” during these tests—crying, puking on their desks, and losing control of their bowels—and parents are opting their children out of testing altogether.

[…]

The best way to evaluate a teacher is to actually be in the classroom at least once a quarter, Hinze proposed. If parents, current and former teachers, and trained administrators did so, evaluations would actually gauge a teacher’s effectiveness. Hinze is especially fond of the idea of parents evaluating teachers because engaged parents, through observing their children’s homework, struggles, and celebrations of success, are able to determine—over time—how things are progressing. “Engaged parents will know if their student has an engaged teacher,” she said.

Click here to read Adrienne’s full article.

Click here to watch Governor Palin’s video on Common Core.



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