Year after year, local communities are losing their schools because of test scores…not just test scores but lack of so many pieces that contribute to such a fate. For example, I just read that New Orleans has officially become an all charter community full of TFA teachers because their schools were beyond low performing. What’s left out of that story is that their schools were also more than likely underfunded and full of under-developed teachers who were teaching kids with gaps growing more and more by the year.
On the other hand, I know of several schools in Texas, full of teachers and administrators doing the best that they can and yet, their schools are also in danger of being repurposed…because of testing. Just announced, La Marque ISD Annexed.
It’s a sad reality…one that we can’t ignore just like we can’t ignore that academically students of color and/or poverty are more than likely at the losing end of this entire discussion because what happens is that when schools perform low…when kids perform low, there is almost always some sort of “rigorous” remediation plan put in place.
We go to our “tech spaces” and talk about choice, digital storytelling, gamification, flipped learning…blah blah blah…and even if there are teachers who are willing to implement such ideas into courses, these kids won’t get that. They’ll get test prep software, test prep questions, assessment apps, monthly campus-wide exams and if they do happen to get the privilege of “recording their thinking”, it’ll be through the lens of testing.
We can all agree, I think that high stakes testing is horrible.
We do, however, have to consider that accountability of learning has its place and that somehow we have to look at the integration of curiosity, creativity and even “innovation” through what and how we are empowering learning within our kids. Maybe accountability is the wrong word entirely. Maybe it should be the reflection of learning….maybe.
A few years ago, my school attempted something radical. Instead of standard “after school remediation”, we empowered our kids to create to learn. They made videos, collaborative displays, drawings, interactive applets and voice recordings. All of their learning was housed on a website…completely populated by them.
We also had embedded professional development where teachers learned to provide choice, use formative assessments and ask better questions.
That year, our school would’ve been in trouble had our kids not performed.
Thankfully they did.
Perhaps we should not stop at apps but instead focus on how technology can impact learning in ways far greater than what we do for testing…because of testing.
Perhaps, we can also talk about ways to make sure that the kids that get such access to creative problem solving aren’t just our best and brightest but…all kids.