Yesterday I heard from a teacher in New Jersey, who read my blog about giving tests in the arts and physical education. I said in no uncertain terms that giving state tests in the arts is wrong. It diminishes teacher professionalism. It has nothing to do with improving education. It’s just the mindless need to test everyone and create data so that teachers can be evaluated by numbers.

This teacher described the nightmare of testing that is descending on her state under the leadership of Chris Cerf. Not only will students be constantly pre-tested, tested, test-prepped, and post-tested, they will be tested in everything to measure their “growth.” They will be tested in dance, physical education, art, etc.

This teacher knows that what is happening is wrong. Other teachers know it is wrong too, but they are afraid to speak up. As the movement accelerates to strip teachers of tenure and any job protections, the climate of fear takes hold. Who will risk their job to do what is right? Who has the courage to stand up to the powerful? Who will defend the defenseless children who are the victims of all this obsessive measurement?

She will. Who will stand with her?

It is funny that you say that because my school is piloting the new teacher evaluation in NJ. NJ has chosen to go with the Student Growth Percentile (SGP) model in the teacher evaluation. So, with SGP, students are given pre-midterms, midterms, pre-final, and final to measure the growth of our students.Here is the breakdown of how it is calculatedQ: How does New Jersey measure student growth?
A: New Jersey measures growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his or her NJ ASK achievement from one year to the
next to that of all other students in the state who had similar historical results (the student’s “academic peers”). This change in achievement
is reported as a student growth percentile (abbreviated SGP) and indicates how high or low that student’s growth was as compared to that
of his/her academic peers. For a school or district, the growth percentiles for all students are aggregated to create a median SGP for the
school or district. The median SGP is a representation of “typical” growth for students in the school or district.However, since we do not have longitudinal tests in the high school, our district/school chose to create their own tests for every content area.
I’m talking dance, physical education, art, musical theatre, graphic arts, sculpture, play-writing etc. This week, our students are taking multiple choice tests mixed with open ended responses in dance and all those other areas I mentioned, and I found myself think, “this is absurd” yet I’m the only one saying anything. Am I the only one who thinks this is DEAD WRONG! No I am not, but I found out yesterday everyone else in our school is afraid to say anything. They are afraid to take a stand because they are not willing to suffer any repercussions from the administration. However we are doing our children a disservice by keeping silent.So, I’ll stand alone and take the stand with one or two other teachers. It may not make a big impact, but I will make a point. We owe this to our children and future generations.