This isn't right... even jails have fairly elaborate Christmas programs for the inmates! We are becoming more of an institution than actual institutions. We are taking all of the fun out of learning, out of life. Everything we do has to be tied to a "tested objective." I am really becoming ashamed to be a part of teaching. We used to have freedom to make learning fun, now we don't. We are strictly limited to what we can and cannot do.
Since there are so many components that have to be completed by a certain deadline, our music teacher can't stop to practice holiday songs. Basically, it sounds like what has happened with classroom teachers. If we can't tie the activity to an actual tested objective, we can't do it.
For example, this week my students are participating in short plays for reading. There is a wealth of research showing that practicing the scripts over and over through repetition helps build reading fluency and comprehension. However, to fully put on one of these short plays, technically called "readers' theaters," I have to give the students a small amount of time to decorate their scenes, work on simple props etc. Since drawing the background for the play is not assessing a tested objective, we aren't supposed to do it at school. It doesn't fit into our evaluation model. However, I cheated today and gave my students about 30 minutes to create their props for their performances tomorrow. Everything we do, and now our music and art teachers do, must be tied to an assessed skill. Since there isn't a music portion on TCAP, yet, our teacher has to turn in portfolios showing the different skills she is teaching the students. Apparently it is extremely rigorous, and she can't miss a single day of teaching what the state deems important to stop and actually sing in class.
We have CC standards that guide our instruction. Supposedly the PARCC test will test these standards. We have always had some sort of standards to guide our instruction. The actual standards are not the main problem. It's all the strings that come with them. I wouldn't focus only on them. It's some of the ways the skills are taught and questionable materials used to teach them. Right now we have tight schedules that squelch teachable moments and creativity.
At this point, they have developed portfolio evaluations along with the regular ones for art and Music teachers. PE teachers are next. I just wish they would leave us all alone to teach.
(This was posted anonymously, with permission, to protect the employment of these teachers in TN. This teacher does not have the freedom to reveal her school district without the possibility of retribution.)