It's 6:40 am on the first day of the second round of STAAR testing. For me, this round is personal as my 8th graders will be taking the Science test tomorrow. After five years away from the testing milieu, I now realize again the stress that is placed on teachers and students. For me, most of that stress is from within because I know that the results of my students affects the school, the students, and ultimately me. The knowledge that the results of my students could mean the difference between acceptable and low-performing is a huge load to carry. I have a feeling that I am not the only teacher having these same emotions today.
Fortunately, the real stress is now transferred fully to the students. I have done everything that I can and it is in their hands. Now, I just have to trust that they will be able to recall what they learned this year and, more importantly, be able to apply it on paper.
Quite honestly, I am tired of the testing culture that has been created. Much of the real fun of teaching has been diminished in the race for the testing crown. While I believe that accountability is necessary, I also realize that we are dealing with individuals who possess different strengths and weaknesses. Many simply do not do well on standardized tests for a variety of reasons. These same children, however, shine in other areas and as educators, we need to be providing opportunities for this to occur. A much better system, in my opinion, would be a measure of overall growth on an individual basis. Start the year with a benchmark and then see how far the students progress. Measure overall skills at the beginning, middle, and end of the year and use this as an indicator of whether real learning has occurred. Until we take the time to look at each child as an individual, we will not be able to overcome this testing nightmare that we have created. That is my opinion anyway.