And then there was the day after the test. That is, you know, how everyone refers to it. In some ways, it has become the test for teachers and parents in an entirely unintended way. It is the test that is not going to go away, even after the administration of it. What should we expect, after the hoopla has died down?
First, there will be questions of equity. How is it fair that teachers are linked to test scores when the number of students who are taking it may not meet the participation rate New York is requiring for annual yearly progress? In other words, the state requires a 95 percent participation rate; what if I don’t have that many of my own students taking the test? What if I have a high refusal/opt out rate? How will this reflect on teachers who have impacted your child in so many positive ways?
Next, there is the question of reliability. How am I going to react to test scores that may or may not be accurate to the success I know of my students? What will I say to parents about their child, who has a high average, is a voracious reader and an excellent writer?
Then, there is the question of personal conflict. How will I feel about my daughter, Zoey, a newbie as a third-grader, when the scores arrive from the ironic April Fools’ joke? She, too, is a good reader and writer. Her grades are all “E’s” except in penmanship, which I can live with. What if this whole thing hits home and she does not “pass”?
You might be surprised from my tone so far, but I believe in the test. I believe the “powers that be” will be kept in check by parents and teachers who are supportive of education and their children. It may be a bumpy road, but the journey has started. I believe I have read more on social media about education in the last two months than I have altogether since the advent of Facebook, and that conversation, as heated as it becomes, can never be bad. Parents have come out of the woodwork, especially those refusing to take the test, to tell me they value what I do in the classroom. I believe parents are thinking about what I am doing instead of what I am not, and that is a good thing, too.
I believe that the test, like everything else, has an unfortunate, but always evident, lag time between intended results and initial implementation. That stinks. It really does. Was the “rollout” rushed? You betcha. Are there kids who are caught in the middle of political madness? Definitely. Will this thing shake itself out? I am confident that, as parents and educators, we will find a way, or map out a new one, because that is what we all do for our children.
I believe in the test, as long as it is measuring what we have implemented concerning the Common Core Learning Standards. The CCLS is a meaty framework with challenges that stump us all. I am willing to try something new, even if it seems “too hard” for my students. We can figure it out; we always do.
I have taken a whole bunch of tests. Some seemed fair. Many did not. I had to take the SATs four times to get 1,100 in order to accept a scholarship with that minimum. Does that seem fair? Not really. I had to take a whole new set of tests when I moved from New Hampshire to New York. I was already an experienced, tenured teacher. Was that fair? Not really. Did I survive? Well, here I am.
Are these tests flawed? Sure. But when weren’t tests flawed? Teaching and learning have never been measured by tests. We will rise to the occasion and when the dust settles, I believe that the state of education and parental involvement will survive, and even thrive, despite the test.