Even when kids are given opportunities to re-take a test, they don’t unless it is under a D. There are a few that always do but those students are few and far between these days. I have seen it over and over again in my classes. I teach health education!!! It’s not rocket science!! Kids will still get a D on a quiz that they can take twice but say “It’s too much work, I passed” Maybe I am only speaking about my community? Maybe this isn’t happening all over but either way my question is why?
I have all my lessons via video (vodcasts). None are over 20 mins and the shortest one is a little over 4 mins. My students get virtually no homework other than the videos and a short online quiz a couple times a week. We do a lot of group work, problem solving, activity based things in class. They are not sitting and getting anymore. That part of class has been great for me. Kids say that my class goes by so fast, but most are unprepared for the activity because they don’t watch the vodcasts? And the “catch-up” process can be laborious. Unfortunately, I don’t have computers in class and not all kids have iPods or phones. I keep saying this should work better than it is!!!? I don’t get it. I’ve been a lecture based teacher for 17 years now and I wish I would have started this process a long time ago. The class is going much better now than in the past, but this should still be working better!!? It is engaging; higher level thinking, activity based, why aren’t kids eating this stuff up?? Tons of questions roll through my head as to why kids are working harder to NOT do anything … anywhere??
I was venting like this to another teacher who is flipping her science classes and she said something that hit me like a dump truck. She said “The kids are getting tested to death and they are sick of it!” BAM! I wonder if that was it. Our district has us handing out CBA’s (Common Based Assessments) like they get $100 for each one we collected! I am not in a core class so the CBA tidal wave hasn’t really hit my shore as hard as other areas. Math, Science, English, Reading …. Tsunami!! In talking to a veteran math teacher he expressed how he has no more autonomy in his class anymore. Work on a problem, take a test, work on another problem take a test …. on and on it goes.
My co-worker in science said the same thing. So much is riding on these CBA’s in our district we can’t even teach anymore …. Data, data, data! More data …. Even in the Physical education classes, they have to do one day a week of in classroom work AND do 20 mins of sit-down reading in the gym on a regular basis. Instead of going to Phy. Ed. Class to be active, now we are telling kids to sit down more??! My kindergartener (Who LOVES Phy. Ed) had to sit and color one day as part of the “instructional time”. He said it was his low for the day … his FAVORITE class was his low that day?!
I think kids are tired … they are sick of taking tests, they are sick of being rushed through everything, they are sick of seeing teachers in panic mode all the time because of all the data that may or may not come from these tests. Kids are having breakdowns at a crazy rate according to our 2 counselors who are doing the work of 4. (We have a student body of 1600 and have 2 counselors – down from 4 a couple years ago). Another symptom that may show kids are done with the “testing model”!
Today, I stopped. I gave the kids an organizational graph, a packet and a website and said we have two days to do this and it should only take one, work with whoever you want, use the website, use the packet, listen to your iPod we just need to have these done by Friday. You could have heard a pin drop! It was like I gave them crayons and a Scooby Doo coloring book and they were in the zone. You could almost hear the room go … “ahhhhhhhhhh”. It was another confirmation that they are tired. No testing and no major pressure and the brain could slow down and work at a reasonable pace.
It made me think … why are the ones who are working least with the kids making all the decisions about what works? Even school boards … how many have classroom experience? Should administrators be required to teach one class? All these questions came to me. I don’t have the answers but I do have opinions and experience that testing kids to death isn’t working. It’s like a big experiment and these kids are the lab rats we are patiently waiting on to give us results on a doctoral hypothesis. With changes in education these days a teacher’s voice isn’t able to ring out anymore. There doesn’t seem to be the checks and balances we used to have. I just need to work more at teaching in a way that works while I still can. My flipped class is working better than my class was when I lectured but I still have a ways to go. I guess we are proving that the saying “Paralysis by Analysis” really can happen.