The other day, I posted this picture on Pinterest of an anchor chart to show my students before taking our district benchmark tests. I didn’t think too much about it until I checked the number of times this pin had been saved. I was shocked, not because of the number of saves, but more so because I think YOU feel the same way I do.
Unless you work with me, then you probably haven’t heard me get on my soapbox about state assessments. So, here goes. You’re about to get an earful!
First off, our students are not a number. They should not be a score on a piece of paper. They are little beings with big hearts who deserve to be educated.
Every child deserves an education whether we think they will pass the state assessment or not. Passing or not passing a state assessment should not be the criteria required to teach a student. All students deserve an education!
On that note, these state assessments should not be the defining factor of what our children are capable of doing. Yes, the tests are required but they’re not always a “true assessment” and they for sure don’t show all the accomplishments our students have achieved.
For example, I am a HORRIBLE test taker. I have always had major test anxiety. I felt so blessed that I did not have to take the GRE in order to acquire this Master’s degree that I am currently working on. In all honesty, the fear of taking that test is what has kept me away from even trying to attain a Master’s.
I could not imagine being an 8-year-old and having to use test taking strategies to pass a state assessment. Could you? I would be terrified. Sometimes the child not passing has nothing to do with his ability or inability to do math. That child could very well have text anxiety.
When I was younger, my competitive spirit would get the best of me and I would really push my students to do their very best so that I would feel like a better teacher. Does that even make sense to anyone out there? I wanted the children to do well so that it would make me look good on paper.
Since I have had some time to grow up, I have come to the realization that God has placed me in this position and no scores on a piece of paper will define who I am as a teacher. He is proud of me and He has me right where He wants me.
Yes, I struggle. Yes, I am imperfect. Yes, there are days when I want to throw in the towel. But then I look at the face of a child who has grown 2, 3, 4, 5, levels in reading and I want to cry knowing how hard that child has worked all year. Then I look into the face of a child who told me he hated reading at the beginning of the year and now comes in every day telling me about the book he’s been reading every night.
I hear the stories of their chapter books read the night before. I see them wanting to locate books written by the same author as the read-aloud I read in class the day before.
Their parents share with me that they have never seen their child so inspired. They send me photographs of their child reading or writing at home based off the same topics we just learned about in class. They’re encouraging their parents to download the same apps that we use in class so that they can write research papers at home. They are begging me to miss recess and/or come to my room after school to finish an assignment.
This is what makes my heart happy! This is what makes me come to school with a smile on my face every day. This is what has caused me to write all of this to encourage you to no longer define your students by a score on one piece of paper.
Look into the faces of each and every one of those babies and think about all that they have accomplished this year. Have a celebration. Write them an affirmation. Call their parents.
Do something positive as we near the end of this school year to remind yourself why you do this job each and every day. You ARE changing the lives of your students no matter how they rank on a state assessment.