Today is testing day in Pennsylvania. Our students have been prepared and the teachers are ready. This year the DOE required each teacher to complete a 45 minute webinar and quiz about the ethics of this PSSA test. I don’t mind, I did it and it was a good review of the procedures. As a special area teacher I am assigned to a classroom to assist if needed. My duty would be to escort a student to the extended time area in our library.
It bothers me that there are still administrators and teachers in this country who will change student answers on a test or guide them to correct selections. That is totally unethical. Pennsylvania is changing the teacher evaluation system. If approved, a large portion of a teacher’s evaluation will be based upon student test scores. How will that equate to a classroom teacher who teaches math to a music teacher whose subject is not standardized for testing? My main problem with this is that teachers who have a great lesson, may not share that with their colleagues, some people may be more tempted to give student answers to the state tests so their kids score higher therefore a better evaluation and salary. Do they really think this will weed out unethical actions or ineffective teachers? Don’t blame the teacher unions, blame administrators who do not remediate or dismiss poorly performing teachers.
Our school has done very well over the past 15 years of testing and I am very fortunate to work here. We prep our kids just like other schools. We let them bring water, gum and snacks, so do other schools. The students here work very hard at achieving good scores. It is important to our students, teachers, administrators and even more important to parents. The parents are very active in their child’s schoolwork, the school curriculum, PTO and the community activities.
Research shows that involved parents leads to higher test scores. This is so important for a child’s education and their future. This is an upper socio-economic community and many homes only have one parent working. We have dads that volunteer in the library, moms that help build sets for our play and even grandparents come to school to help one teacher read essays and make comments to the students. (These are retired certified English teachers who live in the community)
I know this is not happening in most schools around PA and it is a shame. Some families must have both parents working to economically survive. Many grandparents are the caregiver to their grandchildren and the only rest they get is when the kids are in school. I wish our government could find a way to really help the struggling districts. They have teachers who care, parents who want to get involved, but work and and some administrators who try to create a positive atmosphere. It is a struggle for them to get new textbooks or digital equipment. My district is fine financially, academically and athletically.
Perhaps we need to adopt another school and help them, mentor them in some way to assist them to more success. I really do not know the answer, but this is so important to help ALL children to succeed, not just put it on a logo or letterhead. I am a few years away from ending my teaching career and know how blessed I have been here at Unoinville-Chadds Ford. I wish you all success with the PSSA testing. Happy Spring!