This is all part of a mad rush to prep students for a third-quarter yearly post-test that included eighteen standards that were not on the first, second or third quarter curriculum map. Add to this a multiple choice writing test and teaching begins to feel like walking into a Kafka novel.
Between the quarterly benchmark and the AIMS test, we have a window of two months where pretty much every teacher will be teaching to the test. Add to this, the fact that we now test for over half the year (I'm not exaggerating) and you have a year dominated by testing.
What's the culprit? Our post test-will determine whether we are effective teachers. And, because evaluations are due at the end of the year, we have to use a third quarter test to stay within compliance of state and Federal standards. It's a nice example of a bad Arizona policy based upon federal pressure from Race to the Top.
* * *
Before the Galileo test, a student says to me, "You look stressed."
"I'm fine," I tell him.
"I normally blow off the test, but my mom says you could lose your job if our scores are bad, so I'll do my best."
"How do you know about that?" I ask.
"My mom works at Heatherbrae and she told me our scores decide if you're a good teacher."
"I'm not worried," I lie. But the truth is I am. I'm terrified. I have tried my hardest not to teach to the test and I know that my students are not prepared.
Under No Child Left Behind, we used test scores to judge schools. That didn't work, so now we have Race to the Top, where we use test scores to judge schools and teachers. Explain to me again how this is a step forward.