The Four-Letter Word
Yes, data is important. It is inarguably useful to record information in order to evaluate successes and failures as well as areas that need improvement. But, when data consumes every conversation, meeting and daily lesson plan, it has become a problem. When data is the main outcome and teachers don’t have time to teach lessons that students need or enjoy, it has become an injustice. Administrators give deadlines throughout the year in which specific curriculum lessons must be taught and student progress must be demonstrated. If the data is not submitted by those dates then the teachers are evaluated negatively. Data has sucked the joy out of education.
My administrator organized another grade level meeting to discuss standardized testing preparation. All creativity has been bludgeoned by this dreadful exam required for students to graduate high school. Lessons are prescribed and responses are formulaic. I find myself instructing the same monotonous lessons daily to the same bored and uninspired audience that pleads with me to do something different.
As if I thought that there may be an end to this relentless pursuit of the score, she tells us that we need to “teach to the test”. I listen harder, doubting that she just said that out loud. “Teach to the test, isn’t that something that we don’t want to do”, I respond still confused. As an English Teacher, those words are like daggers through the heart. Her voice continued telling us to put aside all our previously designed lessons and curriculum to focus only, not primarily, but only, on the test.