Thursday, June 11, 2015

Testimony on standardized testing

My colleagues,

I was honored to be asked by our MTA to offer testimony on a bill currently before the state legislature to enact a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing in Massachusetts at today's hearing of the Joint House and Senate Committee on Education.  As you have inspired me with your dedication, and I have learned so much from you, I wanted you to be the first to see what I'll be saying to our leaders in the State House today:

Dear Madam Chairs:

Across our Commonwealth today, educators are focusing on standardized tests.  Educators are trying to convince themselves that the tests are fair, are valid, are reliable even when specialists have proven otherwise. 

I would like to share the mentality that is the logical conclusion of these tests and this regime, one already spreading through our educators and schools.  The mindset goes like this:

Next year, educators are increasingly saying, my students’ scores will be better next year.   My students’ growth profiles will rise, and I will look better for it, my school will look better for it, my principal will look better for it. The community will look better.   

The files, records, reports, tables, charts, graphs, binders, datasets, slides, and profiles will glow.
Swapping out constructive lessons and authentic, educator-authored tests for drill and kill test prep will be the trick.

It will have been worth giving up recess, social play, reflection, and education in the arts.

My students are now able to answer questions cognitive scientists know are not appropriate.

Next year, the scores will be better.


Because my students will ensure all experiments have the anticipated results.

Students will have learned to only use the most predictable route to solve a math problem.

To beat the tests, my students will be affected by writing only as they are expected to be affected.

They will know to contemplate only questions that can be easily answered, preferably in the form of a multiple-choice answer.

The scores will be better because my students will use only approved methods taught to them to find solutions.

My students will accept no opinion of author’s purpose, mood, or theme except for the test-writer’s opinion.

My students will employ only the dominant understandings of history

The scores will go up, for students will connect observations in a linear and expected manner.

They will not confuse learning by invoking their personal experiences.

My students will not seek to add to our corpus of knowledge, but solely to repeat it.

My students will demonstrate their thinking in a step-by-step quantifiable approach.

My students will not endanger their scores with intellectual adventure and risk-taking.

The numbers will improve as they embrace consensus and orthodoxy.

My students will not disrupt assessment with creativity.

To improve their scores, my students will avoid unexpected modes of thought.

My students will avoid breaking ground.

My student will avoid fiction.

To succeed, my students will not write outside the box.

To succeed, my students will not think outside the box.

Because they do this, because this will be done to them, the scores will go up.

And due to the tests, that is all that matters.

We can beat back that mindset.  You can derail that future by reporting HR340, An Act Relative to A Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing and PARCC favorably out of committee as soon as possible.

I hope you will.  My students, whose writing on this subject inspired my testimony, hope you will.

Thank you.

Brian Fitzgerald
Wareham Education Association

Friday, June 5, 2015

More teaching, less testing

Do our schools need more learning and less testing? Willing to do something to show you agree? These stickers will be available at all Wareham schools on Monday for staff to wear, joining thousands of educators across the state who will be wearing them on Monday in favor of a three-year moratorium on using test to inflict high-stakes punishment on children and educators. Not a member but still want a sticker? Message us and we will get one (or several) to you.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Annual meeting, and teleconference

Thanks to all members whose opinions at Annual Meeting today offer thoughts and guidance on discussions going forward about evaluations and internal WEA matters. Glad to see officers, reps, and members coming together on these difficult topics!

Interested in joining a teleconference with MTA leadership on efforts to push back against the growth of standardized testing? Email Brian Fitzgerald for login and password info. The teleconference takes place on Wednesday June 3 at 7pm.