Standardized Testing and the Idealistic Teacher

Well, the Michelle Rhee memo scandal (if you haven’t read this bombshell by John Merrow, you should), has added gasoline to the conflagration that is our national debate over standardized testing. Proponents say that standardized, high stakes testing is critical to holding teachers accountable and making sure students are learning. Opponents argue about the ineffectiveness of standardized tests for these purposes, and the toll they take on the teaching and learning process (as well as the teachers and learners). I read the John Merrow post right before bed last night (thanks Diane Ravitch for the tweet), and laid in bed thinking about it. Thinking about my own experience as a teacher. Thinking about my role now as a teacher educator. Thinking about that question that I get asked every single term by one or more of my preservice teachers; how do I get kids ready for the standardized test and still stay true to my educational principles? You wouldn’t think, at first glance, that those two goals would be at odds, but tragically, they often are. I generally reply to this question, not with a direct answer, but with my own experience, and with a question of my own. {…}