As a lifelong educator who has taught in public schools for almost 28 years, I find it very troubling to see what is happening in public education in regard to assessing students. We need to re-evaluate what we are doing in Tennessee.
At a recent public forum in Jackson, students and parents told of testing anxiety to the point that children were becoming physically ill from the pressure to do well on standardized tests. Teachers expressed concern about the amount of time spent preparing students for the tests. In many cases, as much as six weeks of instruction time is lost to preparing students for standardized tests.
I believe that Tennessee is spending too much time and money on testing. Tennessee spent $40 million on testing in 2013 and with the new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) assessment for the Common Core standards the cost will rise. All of these tax dollars for testing are going to out-of-state vendors rather than staying in our state to help children.
In addition to being a teacher, I am also a county commissioner. My county could use more help from the state in providing just the basics that our students need, such as textbooks, technology, science labs, career technology programs and buildings.
I work at a school that has as many as 15 floating teachers in any given year because there are not enough classrooms. Tennessee’s school reforms are placing more of the funding burden on local government and limit our ability to provide basic services.
I am not opposed to assessments, but it has clearly gotten out of hand. Assessments shouldn’t be the sole indicator of success. Most of the school reform is being advocated by outside sources that will benefit financially. The quality and depth of learning are being sacrificed in Tennessee for an assessment score. That is a shame. Why not take a more safe approach in implementing proven educational policies, and then fund them accordingly? Nothing will change until parents begin to say enough is enough.