The Ire in Me

I’ve started my college classes again. This semester I’m taking Adolescent Psychology. Our first class was last week, yes, on MLK day, but the prof didn’t show. Anyway, today, she had us create a Venn Diagram comparing & contrasting what adolescents are like to what we were like at their age. After about thirty minutes, we came together as a large group and shared. We sounded like a bunch of grumpy old people.

Then I got to thinking about the things we were saying, and I got really angry. Mostly because it all came back to my issue of the month: teaching to this test. It was good that the prof validated our feelings or I would have really gone off the top. I would have begun to write furiously upon my brand new notebook.

Here are the two things that upset me the most:

Kids are not allowed to choose any book they want to read. Instead, they have to read books that are in the Accelerated Reader program. When they get done with the book, they have to take a test to prove they read the book and then they acquire points for these books. We have to give them two grades from this, one is based on the amount of points, the other is based on the percentage of their tests. So in my class, they need to have 10 points every six weeks. So if they read a book worth 36 points, that’s 100. But if they made 75 percent on the tests, then that’s the other grade. It pisses me off to no end because to be honest, I don’t give a damn what they read as long as they read.

The other thing that was making me upset was the fact that everything that we teach has to be backed up by a TEK, the objectives tested on TAKS. The problem with this is that we cover all of them every six weeks, so in actuality, we’re teaching the same thing over and over, with the exception of writing of course.

I really hope they get enough people into the education system so that we fight back all this teaching to the test junk. In the end, yes, our kids will be great at taking a standardized test, but they won’t be able to think.


MsAbcMom said...

Hello - I was blog hopping and I saw your post and have to comment. I HATE AR. It is the dumbest thing ever!!! You are right - kids only want to read for points, not for pleasure. They won't touch a book if it isn't associated with a test. The tests don't actually prove that the child can read well either. The 5 or 10 questions a child might have to answer are surface questions too. There is no deep thought or reaching into the higher levels of bloom's Taxonomy.

I do have my kids take the AR tests but only as a way for them to practice test format - not reading comprehension. If I want a true measure of that I will sit and listen to them read and do a running record on them. It may take more time but it is more valid.

I guess I got a little overheated here...sorry!

I will come back again!


Hi - Another teacher heard from - I'm msabcmom's mom and unlike you two, teach Spanish in high school so we aren't as directly affected. I love to read and love to see kids read. I teach Spanish literature, but I don't care what book they've got, as long as they are reading.

Several years ago, in deference to Krashen, our staff agreed to a requirement that all kids have a recreational reading book in their backpacks (for downtime). I was a dissenter because A)I try to avoid downtime in the 48 min. they give me for each class and B) I think required recreational reading is an oxymoron. But so it goes.

Of course you are right about the test prep craze. This is my second career, so I'm only 14 years into it, but I'm still waiting for the pendulum to swing back, but it is just getting worse. I heard of an administrator in our district who reportedly said that teaching novels (in an English class) was an inefficient way to prepare kids for the Star tests - I guess the boring, irrelevant, test prep materials are supposed to be more effective. What is our goal? A nation of uninspired, unengaged test-prepared sheep?

Teragram said...

Hi there, first post to you. I'm so sorry about AR. In my district, most schools bought into AR. The teachers at my school rebelled. In my classroom I have hundreds of books (I've been teaching for a very long time--I bought 'em) that the kids love. They are all leveled (Fountas and Pinnell a-z method) and put in leveled boxes. The kids have dozens of books to choose from within their level. Each day I pull kids one at a time and have a little book talk about what they are reading. I can give minilessons, listen to them read, read to them, make suggestions, etc. My kids and I LOVE independent reading. By the way, it's also AR, but AVID Reading (our invention), not Accelerated Reader. My superintendent is anal about testing. He bought into Standards Master and loves things like AR and Accelerated Math. We old timers are rebelling. BTW, I'm msabcmom's tia!