The printed TNReady tests weren't ready in time. This has caused a snowball effect.
- Field trips have been rescheduled or cancelled.
- A week that kids love, "National Read Across America" (a week celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday and the love of reading) has been cancelled or shortened in some districts due to the testing windows being so screwed up.
- Lesson plans have been royally messed up, multiple times now.
- Observation evaluations of teachers have been rescheduled or squeezed in before looming deadlines.
- Class projects, spelling bees, honor society inductions, Black History month activities, and spring programs have been moved to accommodate the not-ready-yet TNReady turmoil.
Incredibly, our Survey Form on our Momma Bear website has netted hundreds of parents in Tennessee telling us they are opting out/refusing and they are contacting their legislators. We can't keep up with all the parents contacting us wanting info on how to refuse/opt out. If we haven't responded, please check our website's FAQ section for the answers we'd write you back if we had time.
David Carroll is a wonderful writer from Chattanooga. He recently shared an anonymous frustrated teacher's voice about the standardized testing in TN, and his post went viral. The teacher's words are eye-opening, sobering, and alarming. Another post of David's told about a teacher who came up with a brilliant way to incorporate a poetry lesson with her students on how the testing made them feel:
[The teacher] who came up with a creative way for her fifth graders to get in some poetry practice, stretch their writing skills, and share their thoughts on the testing process (and the aftermath). “We were talking about testing,” she told me, “and how some of the kids struggle with the tests. There’s so much pressure on them. We decided they should express their feelings, and relate them to poetry.” She explained the exercise wasn’t about the test itself, or not wanting to take it, but more about how students often feel they’re being judged by a test score. “This was a way they could look deep into themselves and celebrate their individual worth,” she said.
When I read the students’ work, I was blown away. In our never-ending quest to attach numbers to everything, brag about the top 5, and humiliate the bottom 5, we often get lost in statistics and rankings. It’s kind of refreshing to step back and acknowledge that these kids aren’t just numbers. They’re living, breathing wonders, and no two are alike. As you’ll see in these samples of their work, they’re exuberant, shy, funny, curious, worldly, and innocent. Each demands, and deserves, some one-on-one time. [...] I’ll bet every teacher would love to find a way to engage in more “face time” and less testing anxiety.
The students' poetry is powerful. It is personal. It human, and so unlike the standardized tests these children are pushed and pushed to perform on. You can read their entries and even see a precious video of a student at his website. It is worth your time.
Another excellent blogger in TN, Dad Gone Wild, is married to a teacher. After talking with his wife and saying that the Governor was going to not count TNReady on teacher evaluations this year unless it helps teacher scores, his wise wife wisely asked for proof. NOTHING has changed other than the Governor saying something to the media.
It was a PROPOSAL by the Governor, not a promise. A suggestion that he MIGHT take action upon.
Think about how many times the Governor has pledged things and not followed through... Remember Governor Haslam's promise, 2 years in a row now at least, to increase teacher pay to make "Tennessee the fastest growing state in the nation for teacher pay"? Teachers are STILL waiting, not a penny more on their paychecks than before.
His latest budget proposal to increase funding to public schools sounds impressive, but when you realize that the state is under-funding public education by $500 million per year, and his $200 million increase is over 2 years, not one... well, even with common core math, it is obvious that his concession is a drop in the bucket. It is one of those useless tiny circle bandaids for pimples when the schools are starving on shoestring budgets. Governor Haslam says nice words to the media, and they fall for it and report it but nobody ever holds his feet to the fire. It is a shame.
If you're as frustrated as we are, then good! Do something about it. As a wonderful national blogger/teacher writes, be radical! Send a message to the state that your kids aren't pawns in their political game, your kids aren't guinea pigs for the testing company... opt your kids out of the testing. You won't be the only one.