Dear Policymaking Man,
My esteemed colleague, Bill Ferriter, recently wrote you a powerful letter. I hope you’ve had a chance to read it. Twice. Maybe even a dozen times. He talked about the devastating toll that high-stakes testing, merit pay and other half-baked policies are making on our teachers and their families. I could add to these sentiments a hundred times over as an elementary teacher. I won’t bother you with those details today. Instead, I want to piggy back on Bill’s comments and tell you a little bit how these things affect our kids.
Have ever seen the toughest kid in class break down into hysterical sobs in the middle of a state reading test and have to be removed from the room since it is not acceptable to disrupt others?
Have you ever had to console a child who did not meet that “level of proficiency” on one day and one test? Nevermind the fact that she was up all night babysitting her younger sister because her mom was called into work.
Have you ever convinced a child that she should get up off her knees and put away her Bible that she was praying over feverishly trying to allay her own fears of failure?
Have you seen a child with test anxiety?
Have you ever seen a child without test anxiety?
Have you seen a child get off track with their bubbling of answers and fail a test and realize it too late, knowing that their fate rested on it?
Have you watched kids labor over two straight hours of intense reading and math work, knowing that this is their chance to prove that they’ve had a successful year?
Have you ever actually seen one of these tests? I don’t know a psychometrician worth his/her weight in paperclips and floppy disks who would call them valid.
By the way, Mr. Policymaker, I teach 4th graders, kids who are 9 and 10 years old. And you are telling me these policies are what’s best for our children? I’m not as eloquent as Bill, but I just thought you should know what this testing is really doing to and for our children.
Stressed and Saddened in NC