Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Letter to President Obama! October 17, 2012!:Write the President!

 “One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”

Your words Mr.President, your words. I wrote your quote in a blog post in May 2011. Yet, nothing has changed. As a matter of fact, I believe it is worse!

Last year, my students took the standardized test four times, four times! The saddest part of all that testing? The fourth time did not count if they scored lower than they did the third time.  Imagine your children sitting down four times a year to take standardized tests in Reading and Math? And let's not forget Science and Social Studies. Next year, they are adding Writing. Each test is composed of approximately 50 questions. And the best part? They get to see if they passed or failed with the click of a key.

Mr.President, what do you think happens to instruction when students are being tested? It comes to a complete halt. Days are wasted, instruction is not given or received, we are in testing mode. What do you think teachers do who are worried about their evaluations being tied to their student's test scores? They "teach to the test." And if I read your quote correctly, you are vehemently against the very notion!

I have taught for 28 years, and I long for the days when the students could enjoy learning. When recess, music,art, and gym were not taken away so that students could stay cooped up in their rooms learning how to "beat" these tests.  When I was not questioned about the "extras" I do in my room because it's doesn't relate to a test-taking skill.

I feel disheartened when I read about testing companies making billions of dollars, billions! Meanwhile thousands of teachers come out-of-pocket or search for grants to purchase things for their classroom. I thought we were here for the kids. I thought they were what was important. I thought they mattered.

Don't make your words, just words. Make them mean something!

 Let's get rid of standardized testing! Allow teachers to make decisions! I want to teach Mr.President, not test! What are you going to do about it?


  1. Lisa, Love you Letter to President Obama!!
    I posted it on my Twitter @Thanks2Teachers and on my FaceBook page, Richard Lakin.

    P.S. There's a complimentary e-copy of my book, Teaching as an Act of Love: Thoughts and Recollections of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid, on my website. Hope you find it worthwhile.

  2. Perhaps if teachers actually taught instead of "having fun" then standardized tests wouldn't be necessary. I taught for 35 years and could not believe the number of children who entered my classroom below grade level in reading, math, and not even knowing basic geography. Yes, testing is not perfect, but teachers need to be accountable. Marks are inflated and kids are not learning basic information. How do we ensure that the money we spend on education is used for teaching and not for "fun"?

    1. Anon, With 35 years experience, I would expect you could provide a clearer definition of what "fun" is and how it is eroding achievement. Any teacher worth his or her salt can tell you that making learning interesting is essential to creating lifelong learners. Learning needs to take place in a variety of different modalities and environments in order to maintain authentic learning. The teaching that takes place now is often from canned and uninspired curriculum which lacks opportunities for children to think critically and teachers to stray from the lesson to dig deeper into related topics that may excite and entice children to explore. Any experience I have had with students being promoted without necessary skills has been due to issues such as poverty, behavior, apathy, or need for special services...not teachers who just want to play.

  3. PARENTS ARE THE PRIMARY TEACHERS! Before there ever was an organized school system (and that wasn't all too long ago) it was the PARENTS who took responsibility for their child's education.
    Yes, now we have 'systems' of education. That does NOT take away the PARENTS' responsibility to make sure their child is 'learning'.
    PARENTS are STILL the primary teachers. Systems are supplemental. Keep that perspective and your kids should turn out just fine.
    All the best from Toronto,

  4. The federal government has no standardized tests. The states playing politics with education are the real culprits here.