Thursday, November 7, 2013
Tennessee BAT Tales- Installment One
Here is what is happening in Tennessee. For the past few years, working conditions for teachers and learning conditions for students have gotten progressively worse. The emphasis on testing is hurting our schools. Teachers and students are constantly preparing, taking, or reviewing tests. Many teachers are afraid to teach anything that “isn’t on the test.”
Teacher evaluations and jobs are now tied to students’ test scores. Teachers are not even sure exactly how they are tied. Evaluations include TVAAS scores, and no one at the State level will disclose exactly HOW those scores are calculated. Scores are not only tied to teacher jobs, but also a student’s final grade. EOC’s ( End of Course Tests ) count for 25% of students’ grades in English. Teachers in a high-poverty school, that have a large number of students who speak English as a Second Language, are pretty much doomed.
Students are burnt-out on tests. At some schools, the only grades that count on a student’s report card are test grades. Schools have adopted Standards -Based Grading which means that students who complete all of their work, but can’t pass the tests, are still given failing grades. It’s sad. Students want their bellwork, homework and classwork to count towards their grade- but teachers aren’t allowed to count it.
The assessment that comes with Common Core is far more demanding than the EOC test that TN gives now. If large percentages of students aren’t passing the test TN has now, how is it going to help them to give them a much harder test? Teacher morale is low. Kids are sick, bored, and stressed from too much testing.