Posted in education

High Stakes Testing Shouldn’t Define Me!

Is standardized testing of inner city schools a conspiracy to keep those cities down?
Often times I wonder, since each school has test codes, how different or similar are these tests? I mean the test are top secret, so who knows?
When I was in school we took Standardized Tests every year. Some kids did well and others didn’t. But never before has test been an indicator of a kid’s future, so why should it be now?
Today the quality of inner city schools are classified by state-wide test scores. We say they don’t perform well because of the testing language; however hundreds and thousands of students from these same schools with terrible test scores qualify, go off to college, and become quite successful. Their teachers, much like myself, are often times products of the same educational system. These same graduates become leaders in their communities, own successful businesses, and have national and international affiliations. I have several ex classmates and teammates who are lawyers, pharmacists, engineers, city officials, doctors, and actors that traveled through the same low income school system.
Times may have changed but the quality of learners has not. I currently have a student two years removed from this low performing high school who is currently class president at a prestigious Historically Black College and University (HBCU). There are also a pair of first year college students  of mine with no prior college credit manhandling their full semester load of 18 credit hours. At the high school to date, there are about 20 sophomores that have tested into college level math and English classes and there are about 15 students attending Junior College now, NO THANKS TO TEST SCORES!

Educational brilliance nor district wide success should be determined from test scores. Yet state officials believe that if we pay outside consultants to come into these poor communities, that will help. The consultants that come into our district have their benefits and they offer great insight; however they only cover the holes low performing districts have. But the wounds don’t close, why?

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Outside support remains bandages to the problems and not solutions to problems because the money is going into the wrong places. A wise man once told me when you start any type of business to make sure you have best equipment and materials. In education, the equipment are teachers and the common issue in inner cities is filling vacancies. I know of a group of students who are currently juniors that had a substitute teacher for their whole 6th grade. The effect of that year of missed instruction has been showing its face periodically over the years, but it always shines brighter than ever during testing. Technology is sub-par. With all tests moving from pencil and paper to computer based, inadequate computers and networks adds frustration to students that have already come to the testing site with testing anxiety. Then there’s a situation of the poor condition of the buildings. If facilities like those in the Detroit Public School system are allowed to remain open subjecting both the teachers and the students to the known and unknown hazards, how likely is the school to realize their true potential, and how likely is quality education taking place?

It’s amazing how the institution of testing is done. Districts are forced to pay for the test, are told which type of test is being taken (paper/computer-based), then tests are administered without adequate materials. On top of this, tests are scheduled around other major test which ensures test fatigue.
We praise those schools and districts that perform well on tests and provide more support to them, but poor performing districts are usually gutted, reconfigured, or closed down. My question to this is, do the “higher ups” ever truly explore Why these districts are under performing on these tests.

The struggle is apparent for different reasons, so the aide has to be differentiated. Before the surgeon does any operation on the patient, they have to understand the nature of the task ahead, so they look at the patient’s history first. Hopefully in the future we begin really paying attention to ALL the “WHYS” of a school’s performance especially inner city schools before adding band-aids to the wrong places.

Author:

Just a Math teacher with the passion to make everyone else better as I get better.

One thought on “High Stakes Testing Shouldn’t Define Me!

  1. As you’re intimately aware, it’s the preparation for the Olympics that puts athletes in a position to succeed at their “high-stakes tests.”
    As you illuminate, what our children don’t get( teachers, curriculum, hardware/software) leaves them ill-prepared to perform when expected. When we can put our children in a better position to succeed, they shall.

    Liked by 1 person

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