In Seattle, a boycott against the national Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests is spreading across high schools.
At Garfield High School, where the boycott began, 19 teachers called a press conference to announce that they would refuse to give the tests because they are a waste of time and resources for the students.
The test scores do not affect the students’ grades or ability to graduate, and the test’s material itself has nothing to do with the students’ classes or curriculum—meaning that students rarely take the tests seriously.
Despite this irrelevance, however, teachers in the Seattle school district learned that this year, the MAP test scores would be used to measure their teacher evaluations—spurring frustration and anger.
"To use this (MAP) as a tool to evaluate our teaching ... "They're setting us up for failure.”
The boycott quickly spread to a second Seattle public school,...
Meanwhile, teachers and parents across the country are taking note of the Seattle boycott. A petition supporting the teachers has collected more than 3,000 signatures in less than a week, and a Facebook page boasts hundreds of supportive comments.
I remember enjoying standardized testing when I was a student. I'd always finish early and have time to read a book. It really seems like it has completely spiraled out of control since then. I know I'm preaching to the choir here (and I have a fever, so I may or may not make sense), but basing teacher evaluations on standardized testing just means more teachers will be teaching to the test rather than teaching what students really need to know and will use in life.
Even at the college level, taking the PRAXIS II, which is supposed to be specialized, I was tested on things outside my field. They were things I couldn't possibly know, because instead of testing for instrumental, general, and choral music separately, there is one test on all three areas. Granted, there is a large amount of crossover with questions that are music based, but there was no reason for me to know the names of big name choral organizations, much less their histories.
I shouldn't even go into tests being graded by the lowest bidder.
Good point on test being graded by lowest bidder, never thought of that. Here is the stumbling block for secularist like ourselves. Education is constantly designed for and by nonsecularist who totally shape the social and scientific areas differently and prejudicely than a secularist would. So, it does not matter if you are a teacher or a student, your conscience will be battered with information that you will agree with or disagree with. If you are a minority secularist you will be socially deminished and so you try harder to accomplish high marks with science to show your worth. Once your scientific achievements have been met, society who is majority nonsecular, takes full advantage of your work and gives the thanks to god. The separation of church and state is so diminished that the village has made government a second thought when it comes to getting what they want.
One aspect of the problem is that designing, giving, and grading standardized tests is a huge money making endeavor. Politicians are all for it despite evidence that they are not an accurate way to determine what students are learning. Such testing does not take into consideration ESL students, students with learning disabilities, etc.
Then, too, there is the push to use standardized testing scores to determine teacher success. Preaching to the choir some more, but along with the aforementioned issues, the tests don't reflect anything shown in phy ed, art, music, and many other classes, or the fact that not all groups of students are going to learn in the same way or at the same rate. *sigh*
So what are we testing really anyway? It seems so abstract and unfair. Is it a conspiracy of those who do not have the best interest of the students and teacher in mind or something legitimate? How do you make a study of all of the variables to make a fair assessment of testing? It hurts my brain to think of the challenge of finding the right balance of cultural dynamics to academic success for a just system of education. I keep thinking I want to be part of an all secular education system just to feel good about the fact religioun won't be a factor. I know in reality though prejudices come in all forms and are not just a theist occurance. Are parents helpless in finding an education that is fair, efficient and unbiased for their children? The more we try to look for a solution the more hurdles we have to deal with.
Ideally, standardized testing would show what areas a school is doing well in and what they should improve. Has standardized testing every really done this? It's been NCLB since I graduated. The part that horrifies me the most is that schools with low scores get less funding. Somehow, they are supposed to teach more with less, without taking any variables of situation into consideration.
I do wonder, since there are states where evolution is pushed aside in favor of creationism, do they take the same standardized tests? Do testing companies modify them? That would defeat the declared purpose of standardized testing in the first place. Do they just get really low science scores and get their funding cut?
Even schools which are secular will contain teachers who are religious. I used to fill in a lot for a teacher who had prayers taped on her desk. I don't think it ever made it into her teaching, but they were there as a mute reminder of her beliefs. They were of the "give me strength" variety, which I assume was helpful on those hectic days around the full moon or holidays.
Then, too, you're right. Religion is not a prerequisite for prejudice. Giving up would not serve the students, though. We must keep striving to improve our own classrooms and school systems.
I wonder if the young atheist teachers who take our place will be able to keep up the will power to fight against religion?
That depends on if we find jobs. :/
I worked with a devout colleague who intentionally never got around to teaching evolution. The thing was, overall she was admirably competent, bright, and an overall good role model. Her only real professional flaw was her religious convictions.
Should schooling be segregated when we see such conscience objection from all sides?