Before I begin ranting, it's important for me to mention that I love my school. I am so very lucky to teach there and I wouldn't trade it for the world. That said, every once in a while something happens there that drives me nuts. This time, I'm probably alone in my frustration.
On Friday, our administration arranged things so that all classrooms were covered for the first hour of the day so that we had time to relax. They also brought in a catered breakfast (from the culinary classes at the high school). Are you wondering why I'm frustrated by such generosity? All of this was done to celebrate the fact that we made AYP (annual yearly progress).
This was very kind of them. And we should celebrate this fact. But...
Celebrating SOL scores gives them an even greater importance. Our principal made a point of saying that we had made AYP without sacrificing best practice instruction. And I think she's right. But I'm worried about our priorities. Having such an elaborate celebration sends a message that these scores are really important. They are important, but so are many other things we do at school. I don't believe that SOL scores are more important than our Developmental Reading Assessment scores, our number of students qualifying for gifted services, or the number of students being suspended. I throw out those things, not because I think they are exceptionally important, but because they are just as easily quantified as SOL scores.
I'm concerned that we are defining ourselves by these scores. We need to see the big picture of what we are doing with students and why. Test scores should just be one small piece of that picture.
at my school, the kids get ice cream or cake when we make AYP, and i'm conflicted over this as well. one year they rented inflatable jumpers and had a party in the afternoon. it simultaneously overinflated and undercut the importance of doing well on those tests. the kids didn't connect a week of testing (the year before) with cancelled afternoon classes and a bonus sugar rush. who could blame them?
We did something of the same last year. We had a party for the students and brought in a DJ for the older students and had a movie and popcorn for the younger students.
I have to agree that this does not show the students the real connection from the hard work they did and the results. It is nice to give the kids incentive for the tests, what about all the hard work he teachers put into teaching? How many teachers out there get the incentive for teaching the studetns that met the AYP?
We have become so obsessed with the scores because the federal government has made it priority.
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