Through Tracy Stevens, a former teacher whose blog is called a better education, I discovered Teacher, Revised, which is a blog “for teachers and by teachers. It is an education grab bag of classroom reflection, a compilation of news that matters to teachers, essays, interviews with the brightest minds in pedagogy, and even the occasional book and movie review. Basically, it deals with anything that affects teachers, could make teachers’ lives better, or that we all should be very, very afraid of.” I highly recommend taking a look.
11 thoughts on “Teacher, Revised”
Sara, you’ve piqued my interest. Could you point us to one of the more scary posts? Also, I see there’s an article with you I’m going to read now!
Sara, I briefly checked this out and clicked on a writer’s disgust with standardized testing. So far, so good, great piece, wholeheartedly concur. But then someone writes, “this woman is nuts,” and proceeds to give us a link to a Fox News write-up. It’s a directive to parents, a to do list of what we need to do at home to ready our kids for the tests.
You gotta be kidding me. Um, no. We don’t do that. I thought that when I enrolled my child in a GT Center years ago, that we might escape some of the test prep mania. I was cynical enough, even then, to know we couldn’t run away from it entirely, as long as we were involved with the public school system. But I was hoping that the trade off for more homework would be less test prep.
I suppose we sort of got that. For a while. Until I began to hear how GT teachers at that school were even more pressured by the principal. She was utterly OBSESSED with test scores. She spent the entire Back to School Night touting some new and improved test they were about to introduce. The school was having trouble making AYP and the pressure was on for the GT kids to knock the scores out of the ballpark, to hide the failing ones.
In 6th grade, there was to be a social studies standardized test. One teacher confided in me that they’d spent too much time on creative projects and had run out of time to prep (yes, she said this. At least she was honest and hinted she didn’t like these tests anymore than I did). Suddenly both social studies teachers went into some hyped crazy ultra-speeded up test prep. They began to zoom through each text book chapter at break-neck pace, reviewing and ramming through facts and figures.
My daughter’s home room teacher at least had the good sense to apologize to the parents. Not for the wasted classroom time on prep, but the frenzied review pace. She began sending home fat review packets.
I decided my daughter would not do them. Knowing how earnest she is, I didn’t tell her not to do it, I just didn’t remind her to do it. At that age, it amounted to the same thing. Daughter hadn’t checked School Notes and was blissfully unaware she needed to do them. Or gleeful avoidance.
She came to school the day before the test and the teacher collected the packets. My daughter gave her a puzzled look and searched for hers, completely blank. The teacher, who sadly I liked and am now left with this sour memory, exploded. She raged at my child in front of all the children. My daughter dumbly sputtered, my mother forgot to remind me, which only unleashed another round of fury.
So my daughter came home, crying, upset, scared, and worried about failing the test. She’d never been anxious about these tests before, we never talked about them, never ever prepped at home. That would be anathema to everything I stand for! My attitude was, she either misses it or goes in and takes it cold, as PsychMom remembers her CAT test days.
But now she was frightened and she couldn’t fall asleep. I considered skipping the day but knew if she didn’t take the test, the school would hound her. She took the test on four hours sleep and got three wrong. Had the teacher not lost her cool over it, daughter probably would have gotten one wrong. What difference does it make? But one can’t help noticing the teacher shot herself in the foot over this one. Lesson #1: If the tests are so high stakes, don’t rattle the test subject!
Oh, the link. How to prepare your kids for standardized tests at home. Print it out and use it to line your bird cage.
Ooops. The comment “and this woman is nuts,” refers to the to do list, not the author who decried the testing. I think.
Here’s the to do list of prep ideas you can do at home. As if you have nothing better to do with your family time:
What’s a CAT test?…doubt I’ve done one….
Then it wasn’t you. Sorry, sloppy journalism. Someone here made the point that they took the CAT as a student years ago (California Achievement Test) but that they simply showed up at school, old daze style. Similarly, I took Stanford Achievement tests. No prep, no anxiety, no endless “scores are up, no they’re not” newspaper coverage.
The poster wrote that she just went in, took the test and called it a day. It was someone who just wrote the other day.
Ah..I googled it and CAT can also stand for Canadian Achievement Test…supposedly used with the homeschooling crowd.
Yes, that’s why I know of the test. Homeschoolers love the CAT (California version) because it’s easy and it’s a quick hoop they jump through to get back to the business of having fun! We laugh that California spends so much time prepping for them, I think it’s rather a Mickey Mouse test. As if any are not.
We didn’t use it, we used my daughter’s high school admissions test instead. In our state (indeed most), homeschoolers submit something at the end of the year called “proof of progress.” Most parents just send in a copy of a recent standardized test.
Off this site, here’s that interview with our esteemed Sara Bennett. Excellent responses, Sara!
Check the lone comment at the end. A high school teacher calls Sara a “no-homework zealot.”
The commentor should have looked the word “zealot” up. Sara is neither uncompromising nor extreme and certainly not a fanatic. I wouldn’t be reading this blog if she were.
I think words like reasonable, informed, educated are more accurate….maybe I’d go as far as saying dedicated and committed maybe even zealous. But a zealot, she is not.
PsychMom, glad you clarified exactly what zealot means. Wish the teacher who made that comment had checked her vocabulary as well.
I didn’t have time to comment on the comment yesterday. I intend to write something thoughtful, well crafted, insightful and hard hitting. I suggest all of us weigh in at the comment section, supporting Sara and letting the readers know how we came to this blog and how gratified we are that we are not alone in this struggle to raise awareness and educate the educators.
I’ve always hated “test prep”. In my opinion, if it’s not important enough to be covered in class, it’s not important enough to be on the test. Talk about getting the cart before the horse. I always did well on standardized tests because they were just things we had learned this year. It’s okay for the teachers to be anxious, if they’re jobs are on the line, but it’s unforgivable for them to pass that anxiety on to the students,