Dear Whoever Will Listen

 

Dear Whoever Will Listen:

I received a three page memo today outlining the process for our state assessment. The information includes important activities and key dates, and lets us know that our state department of education “recognizes that the disruption to education due to the COVID-19 pandemic persists as schools and districts prepare for the spring 2021 assessment administration.” In announcing that this “disruption” exists, we will be provided greater flexibility to administer a remote assessment to students. 

A couple of thoughts about attempting to administer a standardized assessment to students right now:

  • There are many teachers and students who are absolutely drowning in our schools at this moment. Students have an inconsistent schedule that impacts their ability to be present in school and to learn according to a “normal” timeline. Some students are lucky to attend school one to two days per week, if at all. Teachers are doing their best just to manage the students present in front of them, as well as those present online. Kids are struggling. Teachers are struggling. Parents are struggling. This may not be the time to place the added burden of standardized testing on students, teachers, and parents. 
  • I’ve heard a lot about how the social-emotional well being of our students and teachers is the most important thing right now. We need to be concerned about how everything that has happened in the past year has impacted our students mental health, but somehow we are ready for them to sit through multiple hours of assessments online. It doesn’t add up to me. It seems like lip service to talk about the importance of kids’ mental health if we don’t intend on actually doing anything about it. 
  • The logistics alone in trying to operate a school on a daily basis are mind-boggling. We have multiple schedules, cohorts, quarantines, COVID tests, and other such things to worry about, in addition to trying to connect with students online and trying to help them academically. Maybe the thought is that by allowing for remote testing, we will be able to ease the burden of state testing. I’m now thinking about the logistics involved in managing remote testing.
    • Is it just remote testing? Or are some students testing in school when they are present? How will we attempt to schedule this?
    • If students are taking tests at home, how do we know whether the tests are secure? How do we ensure that students are completing the test on their own?
    • What do we do about small group testing and accommodations for special education students?
    • The list can go on and on and on…
  • None of what I’ve stated so far even gets to the fact that these assessments may not have any validity at all. We know that students have not learned at the normal pace that we are accustomed to. Standardized testing typically tells us what students know or don’t know. What information are we trying to gather right now other than knowing that the last year has greatly impacted the learning ability of our students?
  • Some kids haven’t come back to school in close to a year. They are inconsistently attending online classes, and completing few assignments. It’s not the student’s fault. It’s not the teacher’s fault. It’s not the parent’s fault. It’s simply the circumstance we are in. How can we say that we need to test these kids right now to know what they have learned over the last year? What could we possibly learn? And why would we want to put kids through any more difficulty than they’ve already experienced in the past twelve months?!

I know that I won’t be the only educator or parent to feel this way. I ask whoever will listen and can alter this decision, please reconsider.

For the sake of our families. 

For the sake of our educators. 

For the sake of our students.

 

Rich