Here’s a copy of a letter I just wrote and emailed to my legislators regarding their upcoming vote on ESSB 5748, which would tie our student’s standardized test scores to our teacher evaluation.
We can hold students accountable and track and report their learning without standardized testing. We can graduate students from high school without standardized testing. We need to trust teachers as the caring, capable professionals they are. Teachers know how to assess their students. Teachers can record student learning and help students assess their own learning by using formative assessments and portfolios.
Schools have students lead their own conferences so they take responsibility for their learning. In student-led conferences the student shares work that he or she chose to show the growth made that year. In order to do that kids need to self assess their collected works and draw conclusions about their learning. Often their education is personalized to motivate and engage them. People are more motivated to learn when doing work that is meaningful and better yet if it’s work they are passionate about.
As we personalize learning experiences for our children and have them assess their progress by collecting samples that demonstrate learning and skills how can we continue to standardize testing? It makes little sense. Taking time away from meaningful learning experiences and projects and group work to have kids take tests that don’t resemble anything they will have to do after they graduate high school or college is a true waste of time. The skills employers rank the highest in their new employees do not include, “testing well.”
What is also incomprehensible is tying the results of one shot, one time, standardized test scores to teacher evaluation. Evaluate us on how well we plan learning experiences, on how well we motivate our students, on how well we prepare our students, and on how well we connect with our students to make their education experience relevant and effective. I teach science to 6th graders in a middle school. I should not be evaluated by how well they score on a math test or an English test. They don’t even have a science test until they are in 8th grade! And that doesn’t even take into account the obvious problems with one shot tests, such as lack of sleep, lack of food, having a bad day, doesn’t test well, can’t speak English, has an IEP, and the list goes on.
Anyway you look at it turning standardized tests into high stakes instruments for students and teachers causes instruction to be narrow and focus on the test, takes the joy out of learning and teaching, and does a disservice to our children and our future. Do not vote to tie test scores to teacher evaluation.