This ritual that we are putting our children through, mandated, promoted and endorsed by the state…should be illegal! Put 20 or more 8-10 year olds in a room (well-ventilated, of course) for 90 minutes plus 20 minutes of test directions (really now) and set-up and what do you get? A situation equivalent to hazing on college campuses.
Third graders have the honor of first year initiation rites. Is this the rite of passage we want our children to remember? To have to endure? Or do we want them to treasure reading, steeped in places with people far, far away from test-prep land?
Clearly, as educators, we value genuine and authentic assessment, though that is another issue altogether. Perhaps, if our governor, education commissioner, and other elected officials sat in any of our classrooms during “the test” they would see another perspective.
As a veteran teacher in a well-respected, high-achieving public school district, my colleagues and administrators strive to provide rigorous instruction and meaningful feedback. We meet constantly to share ideas, enhance instruction, incorporate technology, communicate effectively and provide an environment where children learn, grow and succeed on all levels. We are dedicated, professional and compassionate, to children and each other.
We know that “the test” goes against everything we stand for. We do not engage in hazing rituals or tolerating them. Yet, in the past 3 days (just this year) there have been episodes of crying, sobbing uncontrollably, panic attacks and more. Students used to producing highly organized and thorough writing were watching the clock, biting their nails and twiddling their hair incessantly while anxiously writing and hoping they would finish in time. Some were so exhausted that they needed inspiring references to the 2014 Olympic games to continue and cross the “finish line.” Where are their gold medals? Is this what we want for OUR children? Parents do not send their children to school to be initiated into this twisted turmoil.
The examples cited above are just a few of those witnessed in the past few days. More specific details and examples (with quotes) won’t be cited, to protect the children we teach. I will mention, however, that the introduction to the first story in the fifth grade “essay booklet” might have captured the interest of a college level marine biology student. I wondered how the test-crafter who composed the “blurb” about an oceanographer thought this might grab his fifth grade audience. What a way to begin the day….I mean, Day 3 of “the test”.
By tomorrow the dust will have settled. Sick children will, once again, stay home. Real stories and books will be read. Thoughtful responses will be written. Informative Assessments will be given. Hazing, in the name of assessment will be halted.Everyday, we try to keep all of our children safe. Today we may have failed.
- A teacher who administered the PARCC in another state
My 4th grader was distraught over the PARCC interface and editing tools. She is an A student and a good writer. She complained about the test saying it was frustrating to express herself and be able to type as well as she could write on paper. “Why doesn’t this edit like Microsoft Word? That is how we are learning to type and edit. This is nothing like that. I could have written three times as much if I had paper and a pencil. Instead I gave up after only writing one paragraph. It was awful.”
- A TN parent whose child took the PARCC Writing Assessment
To see the above comments and many others made by parents, teachers, & administrators across the nation about the new Common Core testing, click HERE to visit www.testingtalk.org
Legislators: please vote to get rid of the Common Core PARCC test in TN. Children deserve better than this. Our scarce tax dollars should be spent in more meaningful ways to help students.