The last day of the SBA test for my school was this past Friday. There may be a few makeups and loose ends to tie… but for all sakes and purposes we all made it through another Hurricane Season. The “Testing Coordinator” for our school, a teacher who maintained her real job during the storm, ripped the testing schedule into tiny pieces in celebration as a handful of us looked on. The pressure this test creates in our schools is indescribable. The time it steals from real and joyful learning even more tragic.
And the silencing of the teachers … is loud.
One teacher expressed on their personal Facebook page:
“Right now in our state hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of educators are engaged in giving or taking a test. None of those adults or students involved – and the students are as young as eight – may ever discuss what was on the test. This thing that the state and federal government has spent literally billions developing and implementing can’t be discussed by those involved in it. If they do, the kids could have their scores invalidated, educators could lose their licenses and, if they talk about it in some ways, they could be sued by the corporations that created the tests. Educators can be punished if they suspect someone is talking about it and they don’t report that.
Vast numbers of people compelled to never discuss the specifics of days they spent in school, under threat of punishment, and to report on those who might be talking.
When did this become normal? Acceptable?”
When DID this become normal? Acceptable?
The public at large must grasp the silence being imposed on professionals and children. Any of us involved in the testing in any way had to do a proctor training. Thank Golly our testing coordinator whittled down the PowerPoint sent out by OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) from over 100 slides to about 50. Still… we are in the business of teaching… and yet this is just another time zapper robbing educators of precious planning time and a hoop we all must jump through.
Then… we all must sign “The Form” swearing our “Oath to Secrecy”.
- Professional Standards, Incident, Investigation, and Reporting Guidelines
- Proctor Security Form for SBAC (Link will be posted soon)
We walk up and down the aisles, ensuring there is no cheating, pat a few shoulders of the students sighing throughout the five hours of testing in ONE day (knowing they will face three more), wipe tears off the faces of those who cry, clean the vomit from the mouths of children who can not handle the stress, and deal with escalated behavior problems during the testing window.
But, Alas!… We have the Badass Teachers (BATs) who resist this slaughtering of our precious lambs. We are shouting from the rooftops about how insane this system has become and exposing this mental child abuse for what it is.
One fourth grade BAT tried to resist signing “The Oath to Secrecy Form”…
“I just went through this at school. Threatened to NOT SIGN the non-disclosure statement. Talked with admin as well as local and state union reps. Ultimately was assured that I could speak out anytime anywhere, but could not QUOTE secure content. We need parents, our union leadership, legislators, and anyone else in positions of influence to be active in this issue. WHO gets to see their secure content that is so creating the data that is DRIVING decisions affecting kids’ lives? Driving school ratings. Driving real estate values. Apparently I don’t, or I risk being fired for insubordination.”
A few weeks ago a teacher came into my office and said, “I know we aren’t suppose to talk about anything on the test, but the performance task my students just had to complete today was horrible.” It did not align with the Common Core “Standard” for her grade level, and the readability level was above the student’s current grade level.
- Do PARCC Reading Passages Exceed Tested Grade Levels?
- Cutoff Scores Set for Common-Core Tests
- Readability of Sample SBAC Passages
Then there is this strange world for those of us who read the test to students.
I personally had the awful “pleasure” of reading some of the SBA to a few students this year. They are on IEPs and it is an accommodation. Think about it. I read the test items to students, but I sign a form saying I won’t look at or discuss the items.
Twilight Zone Strange.
And from my humble and professional judgment, many of the test items were outright ridiculous. I found myself saying, “Wait, What?” on more than one occasion… and I’m an adult with a Master’s Degree… not a special needs child or an eight, nine, or ten year old.
Another teacher puts it this way:
“I am one of those who lives in the strange world of reading ‘the test’ to students who have IEP accommodations. What I read makes me frustrated, crazy, and sad. Its even worse for the students I teach. Ever since the testing mania started in our state (think WASL), I have had students melt to tears at some point during testing. But I’m not supposed to talk about that.”
What is all this demand for silence about?
Giving an assessment is suppose to inform a teacher’s instruction… allow teachers to analyze strengths and weakness of their students. If a test is given in which:
- test items are above grade level in readability
- the testing platform is complicated
- the interfaces of the test intricate
- it expects children to type answers when they don’t know how to type
- children are tested to the point of exhaustion
- test items can not be analyzed by the very people who give it
What. Is. The. Point?
Another teacher laments:
“It is a travesty, a rape of public education by the corporate elite. Fear tactics to destroy public education. Let’s get back to teaching and learning in engaging, creative ways. Nobody wants to be a teacher anymore. Where is the fun?”
As our precious lambs are led to the Testing Slaughter Houses… teachers, the one’s entrusted with our children, are silenced.
*All educators quoted gave permission to use their words and are in classrooms across Washington State.
*We will not be silenced.
RAZ ON FIRE