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Testing Season: When a Teacher's Job Depends on a Student's Score

Testing Season: When a Teacher's Job Depends on a Student's Score

It's March, and that means test-prep season. It also means that down the road, some teachers will be evaluated based on their students' test scores. 

In a recent New Yorker article, Staff Writer Rebecca Mead looks at the issues facing standardized test taking and how it can negatively affect teachers, students, and schools as a whole. 

"Carmen Fariña, New York City schools chancellor, has repeatedly questioned the usefulness of state-test results in evaluating student, teacher, or school performance," Mead wrote. "Last fall, Fariña announced that the 'letter grade' system of ranking schools which had been introduced in the Bloomberg era—and was based solely on a school’s test-score performance—would be replaced by a different system that would take into account not only test scores but also the observations of outside reviewers and the results of parental-satisfaction surveys, among other measures."

According to Mead, the readying students face to take these kinds of tests "is not the same thing as teaching them—that it can, indeed, be the opposite of real learning, interfering with the fruitful conduct of the classroom and diverting attention and resources away from study—is an irony that is, at this point, fully embedded in the discourse around education."

"It has also become, increasingly, a motivation for parents, teachers, and principals to take direct action by opting out of state tests altogether," she continued. "Last year, forty-nine thousand students opted out of the New York State E.L.A. test; sixty-seven thousand opted not to take the math exam. [At the school my son attends, PS 146, in Brooklyn, seventy per cent of students in testing grades opted out.] But 1.1 million students did take the test."

"In the light of such widespread skepticism about over-reliance on test results—and such widespread consensus about the detrimental effects engendered by teaching to the test—the governor’s doubling down on state test results to assess teachers’ effectiveness seems a questionable calculation," Mead concluded. "It looks likely, though, that, should Cuomo’s proposal come into effect, test-prep season will start a lot earlier next year, for everyone."

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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