Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Crushing Power of Standardized Testing

I’m new to Twitter but I follow/stalk a few people and recently I saw someone post about World Read Aloud Day 2015. I was immediately excited and ran to my principal and several colleagues to drum up enthusiasm and figure out how we could make this a reality at our school. I was already envisioning buddy reading opportunities, assemblies, storytelling, all sorts of inspiring literature being read aloud to students.

My few 'go-to' colleagues eagerly agreed that it was a great idea and I quickly ran down to the principal's office. I dropped a packet on his desk and exclaimed, “We have to do this!” He is used to placating me and having to put up with my hair-brain schemes. But this time, I had back up. Key players were on board. The ball was in the air. He looked through the packet, asked a few questions and said, "Let's do it!"

And now, it’s a no go. Not for a lack of enthusiasm. Not for a lack of trying. Not for a lack of participants. Standardized testing got in the way. On the day of World Read Aloud Day 2015, we are scheduled to take a state-mandated assessment.  And just like that a meaningful, engaging community building activity has just been stomped by the crushing weight of standardized testing.

Literature is such an important element in children's lives. We use literature to bring different cultures, different experiences, and different stories to the students. World Read Aloud Day could have been filled with reading stories that inspired compassion, belonging, acceptance of others and ultimately helped students to make the world a better place. But, instead, we’ll be demonstrating how college and career-ready we are.

There is not a mandated assessment that measures how globally aware students are, how compassionate they are towards one another, how much they feel empathy towards, or how much they advocate for change. Aren't these skills just was important to help students become global citizens?

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