Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thinking......About Assessment and its Impact on Teaching

While there is no "school" per se in our part of the country this week due to the "winter break,"  most of us are thinking about and in SOME way preparing for the weeks ahead - busy ones - and ones filled with important decisions that will impact teaching and learning.

One teacher told me that he is trying to get "organized" and plan focused essons for the busy weeks ahead not only to assure his own peace of mind, but also to make sure that every lesson is as good as those demonstrations of our teaching we affectionately call our "observations lessons."  Another teacher mentioned that she is working on some "packets" that will help her students understand the "3rd grade extended response" question on the ELA.  While some of our colleagues are off at the beach or skiing for a few days, they too are planning, sometimes through professional reading and sometimes just through thinking, for the days and weeks ahead.  Effective teachers are always thinking!
I've been researching and thinking about assessments that will support assessing teaching and learning in light of the state-wide Race to the Top Mandate for APPR reform.  It's a significant in that we are using assessments to not only determine student learning but also teacher effectiveness in a far more overt and public manner than ever before. 
It could, in theory, cause teacher anxiety and fear leading to practices that are more reminicent of the Emeror's New Clothes than of reserach-based effective classroom practices.  It is possible that some of our colleagus, unsure of their own effectiveness for whatever reason, might, like the emperor, become obsessed with thinking about and practicing for tests! 

It is possible that some teachers might only think about tests and spend all of their teaching time focused on students' obtaining good grades on the tests.  It is possible that some teachers might have just one ambition: to always have the best scores!  It might, in some cases, be that teachers go out of their way to make students look "low" at the beginning so that they might get credit for their progress....sigh...these are not good thoughts for sure....they are the thoughts of nightmares...the thinking of a teacher who is concerned !

I am not alone in such thinking.....and am TOTALLY confident that excess test prep has negative implications both short term and long term.  I'll write more about that tomorrow!

During the time I was in computer limbo this week, there was another very imporant post on this matter ...check it out..

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