Testing Fast Anniversary

Ten years ago this week I fasted as a form of personal protest against testing. Ten years ago I sat in the same room where I watched the Towers in New York fall and decided I had to do something about the way we look at our public school system. I wrote this on April 25, 2003:

I am opposed to high stakes testing.  The No Child Left Behind Act requires these types of tests to evaluate students, the professionals who instruct them, and the school communities where they do their work.  These test results, good or bad, are used to determine the quality of education at a school, but reveal an incomplete picture of our academic communities.  They oversimplify the educational needs of America’s diverse student population and all those who are hard at work in American public schools. 

Since 2003, Bush left office, No Child Left Behind ended, but in its place Obama launched Race to the Top which continues to value high stakes testing and pushes to link test scores to teacher evaluation. Now, rather than schools qualifying for federal funds, districts must apply and plan to integrate Department of Education policies. Education has become a race rather than a right with the influences of corporate philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad holding more weight than educators.
Noah reading his poem at our class open mic.

But day-to-day life in my classroom, in most classrooms, probably doesn’t look so different. Since 2003 I have taught thousands of students. We’ve read books, write stories, essays, and

poems; we discuss novels, ideas, and grammar. We take tests. But my school has changed. We have lost half of our enrollment, some to new much-needed neighborhood schools, but many more to charter schools.

Caro and Yisel's poem battle on independence!
No Child Left Behind succeeded in causing the public to lose faith in our schools. But I haven’t and I am here in the trenches. I know on every campus, no matter what the API label, there are good teachers, bright students, and hard-working families making sure their schools work. Every morning I head to school. My students are there and we do the work of learning. Our school, even though it’s been labeled a failing school for a decade now, succeeds in so many ways, ways most will never see by looking at our test scores.

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