Raise your hand if you became a teacher to teach students to practice for tests.


This week I had an opportunity to work with teachers.  When I asked them to raise their hands if they became teachers to teach students to practice for tests, no hands were raised.  Nevertheless, these educators were full of questions and anxiety about the new testing system in our state.

In last week’s blog post, I suggested a three pronged approach to surviving test preparation.  Though there were no public comments on this blog, I received a multitude of private comments from readers around the country (and one from another country), and I also spoke with a number of readers in person.  As it turns out—it’s rather controversial to discuss test preparation and how much we prefer not to do it but feel there are no alternatives.

As parents, we are concerned of the consequences for our children if we speak up and request different teaching approaches beyond test prep.  As teachers and administrators, we are fearful of the consequences of not meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP).  As community members we bemoan the state of education and the lack of life skills students have as they enter college and the workplace.

What exactly can we do to make sure our kids have what they need to be successful in life?

Parents
 Support our kids by:
·         listening to our kids tell us what they are reading, learning, and exploring
·         talking with our kids about what we are reading
·         encouraging schools to continue arts, music, language, physical education, leadership and technology programs as part of the school day
·         providing opportunities to learn outside of the classroom by visiting parks, museums, libraries, music venues, and historical sites
·         volunteering in schools
·         supporting teachers who have tough jobs with large class sizes
·         judging the quality of schools on factors beyond test scores (i.e. effective teaching practices & enrichment programs)
·         voting for political leaders who believe in education beyond preparing for tests

Teachers and education leaders
 Teach our students and keep our jobs by:
·         reading, understanding, and implementing required standards and best practices in instruction
·         keeping test practice activities at a minimum
·         providing kids opportunities to learn for the sake of learning
·         offering programs which support creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration
·         judging the quality of schools on factors beyond test scores (i.e. effective teaching practices & enrichment programs)
·         voting for political leaders who believe in education beyond preparing for tests

Community members
 Support the future leaders of our communities by:
·         listening to needs within schools
·         contributing time and resources to schools and after school programs
·         partnering with local schools to provide opportunities to kids through internships, mentoring programs, and job shadowing
·         judging the quality of schools on factors beyond test scores (i.e. effective teaching practices & enrichment programs)
·         voting for political leaders who believe in education beyond preparing for tests


Let’s continue the conversation and collaboration.  It’s what we, as adults, do in real life and what our kids need to be able to do, too.

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