Data is more important than ever and the intelligence it provides can structure lesson planning to have more impact in a broad range of students. Flip that coin over and schools and their leaders believe the the best way to get that data is via assessments. Lots of assessments.
As a father of a middle school student I speak from experience. My daughter is assessed constantly.
Language Arts and Math alone make up at least three assessments a week, at about four hours of class time. Not to mention the time spent at home studying for the test. That doesn’t include other assessments that land about once a month like DEA testing or TCAP Prep.
But why? Although it is generating data, who gives a rats butt when there is no educational time left in the day to use it?
As an educational society, we have given up on being creative and teaching our children, and given way to the belief that Assessments are Teaching which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I will even go as far as to state that the manner in which we assess our students today is the biggest hinderance to educational advancement we face.
If you look at the amount of quality hours in teaching a week, add in two hours a night for homework, and then divide the amount of time spent on assessments, you will find that about 20-25% of our time is dedicated to assessments alone. 20-25%! I think that is absurd. All for data that could be captured in a multitude of ways outside of assessments and releasing the time for deeper more meaningful instruction.
Now, let me be perfectly clear. I do not place this on the teachers. Not at all. They have to do this as school systems have created an environment that these assessments are the lifeline to their careers. I do place heavy focus to the upper level administrations and state DOE’s for these issues. Federal DOE right in the mix. Plain and simple, its bad policy.
These entities have taken the art of teaching our children and made it about a number instead of a learned skill.
We have moved into a place where are kids are no longer individuals but statistical points of data on a graph that is being compared to other countries.
We are creating “like” learners instead of allowing creative strengths to flourish and concerning ourselves with stabilizing the norm in lieu of celebrating the exceptional when in truth, all students are exceptional.
Assessments are not teaching.
If we want to be the best education system in the world we will start teaching again and stop this over assessment nonsense.