Thanks to loyal reader PS for sending this link to me. Those of us in Georgia know that this has saturated our local newspapers for months on end, but now we’re a story on NPR too. High-stakes testing leads to desperation, especially when teachers and administrators are working with youth who have historically – for a variety of reasons – not performed well on standardized tests in schools.
This, by the way, is nothing new and doesn’t only happen in low income schools. Way back when Ohio was just starting the state required tests (I’m talking mid to late 90s here), I was teaching 2nd grade and a colleague give me a class set of books that “just so happened” to have the same story in it that was going to appear on the state test. We were teaching in a middle-class to affluent district, and there were no “high-stakes” involved.
I decided not to give the story to my students and told my colleague that doing so would be missing the point of the assessment – to actually try to learn something about how our students could perform independently on a new “reading task.” Of course, it’s much more complicated than that – tests create completely new contexts where information, knowledge, and understanding don’t always transfer. But imagine, there was this kind of pressure even when there WASN’T any pressure!