Here’s the problem. I have a long standing disdain for high-stakes standardized testing. I have made my opposition to the exams, and the reasons for it, clear with varying degrees of diplomacy in some large number of forums.

So why did it feel so good today to find out that the 71 students I teach performed spectacularly on the New York State ELA exams they took in January?

How well did they do?

The year-to-year scores of 70 of the 71 students went up. This means that those students had at least one year of growth in one year. For special education students, who tend to fall further and further behind each year, a year’s growth in a year is a major accomplishment. That so many students accomplished that is a testament to the hard work the students and all their teachers have been doing.

My principal is really happy. The other teachers are really happy (and relieved). I am really happy, which makes me feel miserable because I feel like I’m selling out my beliefs for a sense of accomplishment and the metaphoric pat on the back I got from my boss.

Pardon my language, but screw that!

My colleagues and I don’t like the rules I have to work under and I say so at every opportunity. Despite that, we show up every day and work very hard. Today we found out that effort produced results. It dissipated all my frustration, justified my irregular methods, healed my psychic wounds and relaxed lockdown-caused locked-up muscles.

I may not like the way the game or the way it is scored, but today we won.

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7 Responses to Conflicted

  1. dtitle says:

    It’s not about those scores, at least at a cerebral level, but it’s a visceral extravaganza none the least. It’s about what you do being validated; and by those who tend not to validate such a educational philosophies. You know that these tests are not covering what students can learn, just what they can remember. By doing the former so brilliantly you achieve a latter that succeeds at many levels.

  2. Mary Rodger says:

    This is a commendable accomplishment! We as educators know that the tests are not the true measure of what our students have learned, but it is the measure by which we are judged-however unfair that is. Both you and your students deserve congratulations.

    • Deven Black says:

      The students deserve congratulations. I hope they never discover that they have enrolled in a perpetual game of “can you top this…”

  3. Joe Corbett says:

    Deven – Very interesting post. It sounds like you did your job very well so you are right to feel good about yourself. Also thanks for singing up for the #NECC09 Tweet-Up!

  4. auntie says:

    Hi Deven,
    Nice to Tweet with you.
    Congrats on your test scores. I agree with Mary’s comment.
    I like your blog. My blogs are at Blogger because I find WordPress a bit confusing. I prefer the look of WordPress.

  5. chris gibson says:

    oops. my real name is chris, not auntie.

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