Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Test Prep

I hope everyone is having a good and restful holiday. When I was teaching the number of activities around the school during the pre-holiday season wore people out.

This was made worse by my test-driven principal who has us prepare a package of assignment materials for the kids to do on their vacation. If it was just something like reading books and doing a report I could see that. But the packages were full of test practice rexos. What a waste of time and materials.

I guess that was all related to some of the tests being given in January. They all used to be given in late March and early April, and then later, the first week of May. Now it is test prep all the time. But my principal started this stuff when she took over in 1979, so we saw all the angles and learned every trick in the book for years before the test game playing became standardized.

I saw first hand for 2 decades what the test-driven systems do to teaching and students and how teaching and learning were negatively affected.

When I became active again in the UFT when I became chapter leader in 1994 (after over a decade of union inactivity - I had bought a house and was involved in a Masters degree program in computer science) I began to raise the high stakes testing issue at Delegate Assemblies in the late 90's– naturally to deaf ears.

At one point in my of my resolutions, I spoke about how the testing mania had driven the rest of the curriculum underground, gutting things like social studies and science in elementary schools. Even I was surprised at the applause I received.

Randi Weingarten was always present. so when she talks about the evils of too much testing I know just how much bull shit she is all about.

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