When I was a child, I learned best in a hands on work environment. I learned best when I was not taking test after test. I never had the best grades in school, but I knew my content well. I tested well through hands on methodology... not pencil to paper. I grew up successful.
Tennessee's strange obsession with testing has gotten out of control, and I as a teacher am tired of seeing students struggle from the anxiety it bears them. And the lack of respect students are demonstrating from testing too often. It is burning them out.
The other day my 1st graders took the practice CRA, a test that is more so geared toward 3rd and 4th graders within the elementary setting. My students were given numerous mathematical word problems to solve. As I began to read them the problems, I immediately noticed the verbage was not age appropriate nor was it language appropriate. One of my students who is a beginner ESL student, heard me read the problem, "Circle the three correct addition problems." I immediately noticed her circling all the 3's on the paper. The child is BRIGHT when I can test her in the way I know works best for her, however, she does NOT do well on tests that are state mandated.
My 1st graders will soon take the TRIPOD survey. (Our district is being PAID by the state to give this). This survey asks students questions that have confusing verbiage; questions that range from "Does your teacher help you?" to questions about students personal home lives. This survey will count towards my teacher evaluation this year. As an individual with a Master of Arts in Education degree and over 20 years schooling, I feel insulted that Metro Nashville Public Schools and the state of Tennessee are allowing 6 and 7 year olds to rate my teaching--- let alone 6 and 7 year old children that have not fully developed the vocabulary ---to take this survey to rate my teaching.
And that's not biggest problem. I am horrendously upset with how this obsession the state has with testing affects kids confidence levels and ability to handle testing anxiety. Last year, when giving the SAT-10 test, my ESL students struggled. "When is this going to be over?," they would ask. "I don't understand what this means." It killed me as their teacher to say, "I'm sorry but you'll have to figure it out." Many of them drew pictures on their test booklets. I felt like I had to bribe them with a million dollars to get them to complete the test.
It's not fair to treat our young students as if they are 5-6 years older than they actually are. These are 6-7 year-olds who want to learn through HANDS ON INTERACTIVE LEARNING. Giving these students test after test not only loses VALUABLE classroom time, but causes them to be "burnt out," and causes them to not take future tests as "seriously."
Tennessee is a growing population; particularly with our immigrants. We need to be more welcoming to these children, and focus on the English language. We need to test them on what they KNOW and are LEARNING-- not concepts that are over their heads. Giving students tests that are not age and language appropriate are a waste of my tax dollars.
(This was posted anonymously, with permission, to protect the teacher and her job.)
Click HERE to read what Momma Bears uncovered about the inappropriate Tripod Survey that is being administered to students in many TN school districts without parental permission