Why I will never be a highly effective teacher... I work with the underdogs. APPR has brought teaching to a whole new level of disparity, morale has never been lower and testing has never been more in the forefront of the class, the county, the state or the federal government. For better or worse, educational reform in the United States is largely controlled by legislation, and there seems to be much truth to the story that they are in bed with big business. Yes, it's a broken record that teachers don’t get the respect they deserve, but really it's the students who are missing out. Twenty percent of my overall score is attributed to how well my students perform on standardized tests. I am a special education teacher and ALL of my students' struggle! Why else would they be in special education in the first place? Many of my students are two, three, or four years behind their peers, academically, due to any number of different handicapping conditions. Each one has a legal document outlining individual modifications in their education program, ranging from assisted technology, scribes, small group instruction, shortened assignments, visual or multisensory materials, simplified directions, refocusing, behavior mod, and the list goes on and on. But, let’s give them the identical evaluation and expect them to be on par with non-disabled students. You can penalize me for their shortcomings, but don’t expect my students to do well on these state mandated assessments. These standardized tests give you the message that you have failed, making mistakes is not acceptable, and no matter what, you are never going to be good enough. What happened to differentiation? Not long ago, it was all the rage I choose special education because I knew I could use my creativity and make a difference for those that learn differently. I knew that part of the equation of working with struggling learners was changing things up and presenting material in different ways, removing obstacles, and providing a safe and caring environment. Back to APPR, which is a comparable evaluation for teachers as standardized testing is for students. Such a mundane tool cannot measure the things most important in regard to the learning experience. Alfie Kohn said it best back in 2000, when he referenced: Standardized testing has swelled and mutated, like a creature in one of those old horror movies, to the point that it now threatens to swallow our schools whole. (Of course, on "The Late, Late Show," no one ever insists that the monster is really doing us a favor by making its victims more "accountable.") As I said earlier, penalize me for my student's shortcomings, I can handle the absurdity of how my own score is based on how poorly my students do. On the other hand, my students do not understand the politics and are made to feel worse about their already depleted self-esteem by the senseless implementation of a test that comes in only “one size fits all”. As the testing time approaches, I would like to remind readers that there is the option to opt out!
Written by Jayne Clare
Jayne Clare is dedicated to being in the forefront of the ever-changing digital landscape. She has been working directly with students and startups and recognizing what works and what doesn’t, along with the why behind both. Jayne co-founded Teachers With Apps in 2011.
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