Friday, May 13, 2016

The innocence of youth?

I don't remember the name of the movie and I have no time to look it up, but there was a movie about a guy that was born old and grew young.  I never saw it, but I can imagine it will relate to what I am about to write about.

What if we never knew what "state testing" was all about? What if those 2 words never entered our vocabulary?  What if they were replaced with "My Evidence of Learning."  What if every year we provide the state with "My Evidence of Learning?"  Sure we might have to figure this out, and sure it would be different for every student, and sure teachers would have to become comfortable with digital tools, but would that not help us?

I remember when printers were removed from classrooms to be replaced with mass copiers in staff centers.  Immediately teachers had to be prepared before the students showed up.  It was an amazing shift I saw in about 1 day!

What if we said "No more state tests, where some succeed, some fail, but we look at an average number."  This is where we are, worrying about the bubble.  No Child Left Behind told us they all had to meet standard... what kind of pipe dream was that?  That is never going to happen, but if we wanted to measure growth, then we as educators could grasp on to something.  It would be more individualized.

What if we said, "Every kid has to show evidence of learning... Every kid!"  Evidence of sufficient growth?

Well we would need a way for them to do that, technology would inevitably be involved, so devices would be necessary.  We would solve the problem of those teachers that say "I Can't figure it out?"  You would have to figure it out.  Or you would have to get out.  Don't submit their work to the state, within 2 years, you are continuously unsatisfactory, you are done.

Kids would immediately be involved, why would they not?  Kids love Show Me Projects, especially when it is not homework, but things they do in class.  They learn this way, and if a union tells me this is not true, I would parade every child I ever met in front of them and tell them to think morally.  With "kids best interests involved" disagree, because kids want this.  We need to adapt to their marketplace.  How are we any different than business, unless we admit we are less than professional?

I feel like state tests are more a judge about teaching then learning.  For example, state test scores are a roller coaster based on student history of knowledge gained.  They are used to judge teacher effectiveness in a current year.  I mean you might look at low test scores and say a teacher did not do something right, ignoring all the previous years of education.  They may have had ineffective teachers for years.  They also tend to ignore family life, and many other factors.

I think we are at a tipping point with state testing, where we are trying a new method in state testing, but in reality we are going to get the same results as a whole.  Sure there are pockets of schools that do extremely well on state tests, because of socio-economic status or other means that I may call immoral.

So to sum up, I want to be in Kindergarten or 1st grade and have the following as my response to "what is state testing to you?"  These are "my kids" and they are real, unfiltered, first take, no planned responses like so many school videos I see.  This is authentic kid speak, only edited dead space, so for those that take multiple takes with scripts, I question that...  We need a change and it starts with each individual educator advocating for it.

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