My Late Night Musings on How to Deal With High-Stakes Testing and
Ways for School Districts and Teachers to Increase Test Scores
My suggestions below might be a little snarky, but humor is the only way that I can deal with what has become of my teaching career. From 1999-2001, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching in the Former USSR where I was told by an employee of our federal government that it was very important to help teachers build critical thinking skills into lessons because it wasn’t something that was done during Soviet times; students could memorize information for a test, but were given few opportunities to question or create. Now I am told by that same federal government that standardized test scores matter more than anything else. In fact, my career depends on how students score.
My musings on the current state of public education in many places across America and how teachers and school districts can increase test scores.
Ways for school systems and teachers to increase test scores:
- Replicate how it’s done in some developing countries; put your students with learning disabilities in a special school and don’t test them, they don’t count. The answer to the question of what to do with those pesky twice-exceptional kids is go ahead, put them in there too – you can’t afford that kind of crapshoot with your test scores, and let’s face it, they’re kind of high maintenance anyway.
- Redistrict. Get some other school district to take those darn kids whose parents have a hard time making ends meet and have little time to be involved their child’s education. Get rid of them! Your school’s scores will go up, I promise. It’s OK, don’t worry! Johnny doesn’t need that nutritious snack you provide him with ( purchased with the funds from your whopper of a paycheck ) every day of the week. He’ll be fine in that overcrowded school that accepts him because they desperately need the meager funds attached to any new student they take to hire that 22 year old Teach For America Super Star who aced her two-week teacher training program.
- Give me your tired, your poor, blah, blah, blah. Send the immigrants back where they came from. Who cares if they enrich your classroom discussions in a multitude of ways and Little Sue’s mother is the only pharmacist in town who remembers that you are allergic to the generic Prozac? Some of your students have only been here for two years, they’re good thinkers, but let’s face it, their grammar isn’t going to cut it on that argumentative writing part of the test. Plus, we speak English, so the rest of the world should too. Just send them back already! (Note to you sensitive types, it’s OK to send Amy back to the civil war she came here to escape from, the shooting has slowed down. When you get sad, go grab a book from the library to escape. You’ve got time! Scripted lessons don’t require a whole lot of prep. ) An added benefit to the above is that the district will have to let that crunchy ELL teacher go. Nobody’s really sure what she does all day or how she does it, and these are certainly not the days for ambiguity! Uniformity is the key to success!
- If a teacher needs to “show growth” through test scores during the academic year, the teacher should be encouraged to have a party or pull the fire alarm during the taking of the initial test (low scores are imperative) and then, at the end of the year, for the final test, when scores need to go up, teachers should find a way to test individually. The other kids can play games or text when it’s not their turn (Of course you can use Snapchat kids!). It’s about testing , not teaching, everybody knows that so it’s not really important what they do while you are busy. Sit with each individual student and make sure that he reads and answers each and every individual question. We all know that all students always take their time to answer every question and try their hardest, but you know, just in case.
- Ritalin and Adderall. Get this from an online pharmacy and give it to your students. Recess wastes valuable test prep time and you’ll get better results with the meds . ( Note of caution, if your students refuse to take it, you might be tempted to crush the pills up, put them into those chocolate donut holes you used to buy for your students, BUT remember, you must sneak those donut holes in through the back door so Michelle Obama’s nutritional spies don’t see you. ). And no, this doesn’t require a call home to the parents, they don’t need to know, it’s called, ” in loco parentis.”
- Come up with your own standardized test language and share it with your students. For example, “Go get a tissue and blow your nose instead of wiping it on your sleeve” = The answer is B.
- Teachers- Get a summer job at Pearson writing test questions to learn what the questions will be. You’ll probably make more money than you do teaching, plus who cares if Pearson is an unethical corporation that has been sued for bid-rigging and and having its non-profit arm create tests that could be used by its for profit corporation to make money? Money is money, and you’ll finally be able to replace that baby gold 1979 Kenmore refrigerator you inherited from your Great Aunt Harriet when she died in’99.
- Teachers- Give up and give in. Teach to that test! You really don’t need to worry about giving your students your best. Nobody cares what experience or skills you have, or that you created those amazing lesson plans that really got your students excited and interested in learning. Forget about your passion for teaching. (Are you really still clinging to that??) Just read that script (like the robot Arne Duncan wants you to be) and teach to the test. Stop caring so much! Plus, they don’t have a rich curriculum that fosters independent thinking, creativity and curiosity in other countries (like North Korea) so it’s OK! We need workers anyway, not thinkers. The extra bonus to this is that your district will think you are passive, and you know that they are looking for door mats right now. This, plus the increased test scores, you get to keep that step 17, $39,842 annual salary (20 years – 3 just because = step 17).
- Impostors. Make the high-strung gifted kids take the test for everybody else. Who cares if it makes those high-strung kids even more anxious? Your scores will go up and you’ll get away with it too. Even with the Race to the Top funds your district gets from drinking the “Test and Punish” flavored Kool-Aid, it can afford that $150,000 data mining software, but it can’t afford to retina scan to verify the identity of test-takers just yet.
- Tell your students to use the method below.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a tiger ( you know the rest). Using this method is just as effective as trying to get a logical answer to such well thought out questions as, ” Joey makes $5 per hour mowing lawns. On Saturday he mows lawns for 2 hours, on Sunday, he mows for 3 hours. How much money does David make on both Thursday and Friday?”
Publisher’s note: We have withheld the author’s name at their request. The author is an experienced teacher in a community within our listening area.