As I was reading some of my educational blogs, I came across this news story about a principal threatening to kill a group of middle school science teachers if their performance on the 8th grade science TAKS test doesn’t improve and surpass state minimum expectations. The TAKS test is part of Bush’s NCLB and spearheaded the notion that testing is the way to improve teaching. Misaligned thinking that if a test is made harder a teacher will teach better and ultimately improved student performance will automatically occur directly as a result of the implementation of the test.
When legislators and others that are not professional educators put policies and laws into effect regarding education and testing you have the proponents for disastrous results. When a student takes 4 to 6 benchmarks every 9 weeks, practice tests in class, progress monitoring from from TAKS release tests, tutoring and testing in tutoring, and testing in regular class sessions, how are teachers able to schedule high quality lessons and activities that are rigorous, relevant and demanding that students WANT to participate? The key here is that successful teachers that have the undefined “IT!” to motivate, encourage, support and teach students as such a high quality level despite the many, many days of testing are leaving the profession in droves.
To remedy the situation, efforts should be spent on recruiting and mentoring those teachers with fantastic induction programs with resources, time to plan and collaborate, and a principal actually serve as a leader that is competent, knowledgeable and able to lead their campus to high standards with high expectations. A little bit of appreciation for these type teachers goes a long way in securing the best and brightest. When you consistently have to pick candidates from the bottom of the barrel, instruction will not increase nor will the morale and momentum of the campus overall. It is a cycle that makes or breaks a campus. Until a principals recognizes this and accepts how damaging their comments and actions are the campus will not improve. On the contrary, if the level of appreciation is evident and teachers feel it, believe in the sincerity of their principal, and the principal actually walks the walk and talks the talk then achievement levels can rise like never before. It is critical to pair competent principals with the teachers that have the ‘IT!’ factor to function, collaborate and plan as cohesive team and campus. Any disparity between these two factors and you will continue to fight an uphill battle with the possibility of having a principal threaten to kill colleagues when threatened with low student performance.
Has testing gone too far in Texas? Read the article and see if you agree. What are your takes or experiences?