The consistent theme found throughout the school system, especially at this time of year, is its All About That Test. (No failing.) This concerns me on many levels. Please understand, I am all for continuous improvement. I also think it is important to collect concrete data to inform and evaluate our teaching efforts. However, when our over-riding goal is passing the state mandated test, we have a problem.
Good teaching should focus on engagement and the process of continuous improvement, more so than the end result of passing one test. When students are engaged in the learning process, their skills naturally improve. In addition, enjoyment in the learning process throughout school will more likely result in a life-long love of learning into adulthood, which is an ultimate goal. Unfortunately, our paralyzing emphasis on testing often takes the joy and wonder right out of the learning process, for both teachers and students, alike.
Yes, from the looks of it, state mandated tests are here to stay. If this is the case, I applaud Nimitz Middle School in San Antonio, who made this video and tried to create an uplifting positive climate in which to test. Although I have a few issues with the song on which it is based (that would be another commentary), I love the novelty of the project and engagement of the students and faculty. I feel certain the students involved will remember the experience of making this video far longer than any isolated fact found on the test itself. Of course, this piece of data will be the subject of my next post.