Throughout the last few decades, politicians have called for educators to make decisions based on data and scientific evidence (Celio & Harvey 2005 among others). The last couple of years that I was in a middle school classroom as a Title 1 Reading Intervention Teacher, I was required to have data and standards-based assessments and instruction. In theory, this sounded like an ok plan. I mean really knowing what the students know and planning instruction from there sounds smart, right? However, the control and decisions often did not lie with me. I was emailed common assessments with a date to administer them. In addition to common assessments, our students were required to take twelve (yes, count them TWELVE) language arts benchmark tests aligned with the a curriculum map that was to be adhered to at all times. (I mean there were only 176 days of school, and we “lost” 12 to benchmarks, 6 for state testing, 4-5 for ITBS testing, plus all the other events where students miss class–I’ll post some research on missed class time soon and add a link.)
The pressure to stay together was so great that at one point, if a teacher posted a grade for a standard all teachers in the subject area had to post a grade within 24 hours. Oftentimes, I felt like I was climbing on the edge of a cliff waiting to see if I would find a safe foothold or not. Would I get in trouble for reading an alternate story or deviating from the daily grammar practice outline? What would happen if the administration ever figured out that I was not on the correct place on the map?
I was more off the map than on. This standardization of all aspects of my teaching and learning with my students was troubling as I base(d) my teaching and learning on relationships. I try to enact a thoughtful pedagogy that builds on the strengths and interests of the students. NOT a testing calendar and scripted curriculum.
to be continued…