I was a teacher aid in the UK when their national standards tests came out and I was horrified to see a fair few teachers just teaching the kids the answers to the tests so the school and the teacher didn’t look bad. I also saw more than one special needs child forced to take tests they could not in a million years even attempt, because for some reason that helped the school’s stats.
One boy, 9 years old, a good wee lad, not a whinger, cried his heart out from the start to the end of the English test because he was dyslexic and couldn’t even read the questions. I sat beside him and in the end cried along with him. I was savage that he had been forced into such a situation when not one thing about that test would inform his teaching. I fought for him to be excused from the test; they ignored me.
I spent the next few months teaching him how to survive the next round of tests so that he would get through them, hopefully, without having his entire ego shattered. I tried to teach him that he was more than the sum of these tests, and that he should remember that above all else.
My heart is thumping just writing about it, and it was 13 years ago, so god knows how it affected that lad.
Sitting there with that distraught 9 year old was the moment I knew I had to be a teacher.
I am a teacher in New Zealand now, and I know lots and lots of other educators who are brave enough to say no. We know that standardized testing and teacher performance pay will not improve those teachers who are rubbish, they will just demoralise those that are good. And it might well demoralise a whole raft of kids at the same time.
How on earth does that serve our children?
Someone has to be strong enough to say no. Someone has to stand up for the kids.