Following my two posts (here and here) on opting out of standardized testing, I have received numerous emails from educators. With permission, I am going to start posting them here, sometimes including whole emails and other times just excerpts. Because these people have much to lose, I’m removing identifying information and changing names to protect the letter writers. These voices are being discounted and demonized. And yet, these are arguably the most important voices for parents and policy makers to be hearing right now.
And so, here you go:
Aaryn,Just wanted to say thank you so much for what you’re writing about high stakes testing. I applaud your decision to extricate your kids from it.I will disclose at the outset that I am a public high school teacher [...]. I appreciate that you’ve done your homework and understand what’s really behind so much of what is called “reform” and “accountability.”This all plays out in the classroom in ways even more crazy than people suspect. Here’s one example: I work for a high school district [redacted] that prohibited novels in the language arts classrooms for several years. We were told that since the standardized tests were made up of multiple choice questions and short reading passages, time spent reading literature would be time taken away from appropriate test-readiness activities and therefore an inappropriate use of instructional time. (I was “written up” for teaching The Great Gatsby to high school juniors in defiance of this curriculum mandate)And all of this takes place while I watch closely the rich humanities curriculum prepared for the children of privilege. (My wife teaches at [a private school]). The so-called “achievement gap” is quite small when compared with the “exposure to culture and art” gap that has widened obscenely since NCLB. If this all continues apace public school kids not exposed to literature at home will read and write only well enough to fill out a credit application so that we can inflate the next wealth-transferring bubble. (See “College, Inc.” documentary of PBS Frontline)Thanks again.Nick Carraway