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The Chicago teachers’ strike has caught the nation’s attention on the fundamental conflicts of teachers in general. However, their new tentative deal at the end of their strike has caught mine.
One of their plans for reform is to partly base teacher evaluations on student test scores.
Student test scores, especially standardized test scores, are not the best measure of teacher performance because they are not the best measure of student intellect because they do not assess valuable skills.
Many classrooms of the education system in the United States work toward teaching finite answers and direct students toward the effortless memorization of dates, events and facts in general, to later assess them accordingly. Student intelligence, then, is measured and associated with memorization skills and familiarity with finite and simple answers, but nothing more. The guidelines and requirements of standardized tests and other assessments suggest teachers to teach in a way that merely covers the curriculum rather than challenging a more extended thought process in their students.
Student are, consequently, being neglected from exercising valuable skills such as thinking critically, questioning, analyzing, reflecting, evaluating and critiquing
To challenge students to think through different perspectives and elevate their thinking level to progress past merely absorbing information but to understand them is vital to understanding anything; there is a difference between comprehension and mere knowledge. Of course facts are essential, but what one does with given information is more significant. It is almost natural to intake information and then evaluate it, reason with it, analyze it and establish our perception and outlook accordingly. This thought process allows students to input opinions, which can help form their identity and beliefs but, moreover, it helps us make sense of the world. However the existing classroom structures and teaching methods discourage this process.
Of course it is difficult to achieve this in certain subjects that only offer predetermined answers, such as mathematics and the sciences, but the system should place an effort on inspiring student creativity and insight with other fields that do welcome it. For example, history revolves around cause/effect relationships and has helped shape our society today; why don’t classrooms emphasize these persectives and further explore them, opposed to the current model of merely feeding information.
When focusing on tests and assessments, students are not learning what they need to learn and teachers are not teaching what they need to teach.
When assessments and standardized tests are reformed to be more subjective and critical, perhaps, then, they can be used as a representation of teacher aptitude and what goes on in the classroom. Otherwise, we can only assume educators are just reviewing what is to be covered on a test and/or the mere facts.
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