Friday, February 22, 2013

"I Apologize" An Open Letter to My Students!

Dear Kids,
I am sorry.
I am sorry that, yet again, I am placing another test (or assessment if you like using big words) on your desk. I  am sorry that I am, again, forcing you to take another test.
Yes, I know this is the 3rd test in a week, but you don't understand.
In order to meet your needs, I have to collect data. Lots and lots of data. So much data in fact that I will never be able to look at it, especially since I have 25 of you sitting in my room.
But I have to do it.
I know, you are tired of exit tickets, formative assessments, entrance tickets, common district assessments, the weekly tests, but it all helps me understand what you don't know.
When I understand what you don't know, I can help you learn it.
I apologize that I move quickly from one thing to another, and it's hard for you to keep up, and that's why some of you have a hard time passing the test. But you have to understand that I have to follow a pacing guide. It tells me what to teach and when to teach it. If I don't follow it,  I will be in big trouble!
And most of all, I apologize for the standardized tests. The big STATE test.
I am sorry that during Read Across America week when we should participate in fun, educational, reading activities, you will be headfirst in the Math standardized test.
I am sorry your Recess has been cut to 15 minutes. You know it's for your own sake. It gives you more time to learn so that you can pass the state test, and I can get a good evaluation from my principal, my principal can look good, the district looks good, the state looks good, and the federal government will shine its light upon us. Passing the state test shows everyone how smart you are!
I am truly sorry for what education has become.
Forgive me,
Your teacher

photo credit: Dave Keeshan via photopin cc


  1. I can sympathize. Have you discussed the reason behind the tests? Or the reason the government gave us? I told my class, and we all agreed that although we understand the point, the standard tests weren't the way to do it. Sadly, the criteria leaves out the human element. I hate the tests, but I don't know what the answer is. Any ideas?

    1. I am not saying get rid of any type of assessment. We do need to see where our kids are so that we can help them. But that's the purpose of assessment. Not to evaluate teachers, not to give rewards to those who have high scores, and not to collect data for the sake of collecting data. My idea is to go back to the way it was, educating our students, and not testing them every second of the day.

    2. Hi Lisa,
      Just sitting here pondering this conundrum. I think your comment .."the purpose of assessment" is very insightful. We need to continue fighting for our kids by asking "Is what we are asking them to do leading to learning? Helping them develop a useful habit? e.t.c. As an adult I know the last time I did a test (similarly structured to in school assessments) was for my driving test! I went and purchased copies of previous tests to practise and when I failed it the first time I got to sit it again! Everything on that test I now use every day. If it's assessment for assessments sake we have to question it. :-)

  2. This is powerful! Thanks for writing it! :)
    Justin- Writing Pad Dad
    Writing Pad Dad Blog
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  3. Couldn't have said it better!

  4. One test at the end of a year would be sufficient. By the second week of school, I know which kids need help and which ones are ready to move into more challenging learning activities. Quizzes and other means of formative assessment throughout the year are MUCH more useful to me than the results of multiple, high-stakes assessments that ultimately deny me the professional right to foster creativity and higher-level thinking. If policy-makers insist on continuing this testing insanity, please, at least lengthen the school year to make up for all the days of instruction lost to useless, expensive tests!

  5. Same sentiments here!!! Teacher Evaluations and State Tests are the pillars of Education Reform!!! May we all survive it!!!! Nice Post!!!

  6. What's recess? My county did away with it completely.

  7. Do you mind if I "borrow" this and post it on my Facebook page? A lot of my friends are summed it up very nicely.

    The state of education has changed and is changing and not for the better.


  8. Student at my school was EMS'd out this week because he threatened to kill himself. He said he couldn't take it anymore. That there were so many tests and he was worried he wouldn't pass. I cried when I heard about it and I feel sick about how I've contributed to his anxiety. It has to stop. We cannot do this to our children.