Presented to Bellwood Antis School Board, 2/14/12
I am concerned about the future of education in our schools.
Pennsylvania schools are about to adopt a teacher and principal evaluation system that will use the high stakes test scores of children in determining the so called “effectiveness” of our teachers and principals. As you can read in the hand-outs that I have provided (digitally), this will do nothing positive for our children, teachers and principals. There is not a shred of research that supports such a drastic policy decision.
This board needs to understand that teaching to pass ANY high-stakes tests does not provide children with a quality teaching and learning experience.
I am speaking to the board tonight because I fear for the amazing teachers my children have had over the years. For example, last year and this year my daughter has had truly gifted teachers. She comes home and talks about what they did in school without any prompting. She eagerly shares papers and projects completed during the day. She asks questions about the things she learned during the day. She is using technology (on her own) to investigate other questions. She writes her own books. In other words, she in fully engaged.
Here is my Question for the board. What has happened over the last two years that has produced a hunger for learning in my child?
The simple answer is that her teachers care deeply about learning and have helped her develop a love for learning.
This is the heart of quality teaching and it will never be measured on a test. There is no statistical operation capable of measuring a teacher's ability to instill a love for learning.
If Bellwood and other Pennsylvania schools adopt this evaluation system, my daughters’ teachers (IN FACT ALL THE GOOD TEACHERS) will have to change their approach to teaching and learning.
If the pressure for high test scores and the insane notion that "we" should hold teachers accountable for test scores continue to drive policy discussions concerning teacher effectiveness, the most valuable experiences associated with learning will be dismissed. The drive for test scores will suck the life out of teaching and learning.
The politicians and others that are pushing this new evaluation system have decided that they know what's best for our children. This top-down, condescending view of teachers, parents and local schools is disheartening.
If we (citizens, parents, business owners, community members and you the members of this board) care about the quality of our schools, then we need to be talking about the love for learning -- not test scores.
I am asking that The Bellwood-Antis School Board to (and this is directly from the Board’s webpage), “Provide for the education of all children and Set district policies and regulations” that oppose the use of test scores as an evaluation tool for our teachers and principals. Doing anything else would be disregarding all the evidence and research on teaching and learning and the valid use of test scores.
This past October, on Long Island New York. 1330 principals (over 73%) signed a position paper in which they refused to allow themselves and their teachers to be evaluated by high stakes test scores and refused millions of dollars in Race to the Top funds. WHY? Because this is what leaders do! What will all of you do?
Thank you for your time.