Saturday, July 16, 2011

Would You Cheat?

A new cheating scandal is gracing headlines across the nation. This bought of cheating, this time in Atlanta, was allowed to go on unchecked for a decade. Atlanta probably isn't the only district to cheat recently. They were just caught. After a decade of cheating, I have to wonder what the teachers in those schools started to think. In ten years, countless new teachers entered the hallways to help children. Instead, they were lead in a career of helping students cheat.

Test scores, test scores, test scores. It all comes back to test scores. If you're job is on the line, but the system isn't changing to actually help students learn, what would you do? Would you stand up and fight the system of cheating? Would you follow through the motions while trying to maintain learning in your classroom? Would you fight it at first, but give in after years being beaten down and feeling frustration? Or would you just go along with it? It's easy to say what you would do. I don't doubt that there are individuals who became teachers without a loving of teaching in their hearts. That's not the majority. Teaching isn't a high enough paying profession to do it for the paycheck. There were good, hard working, probably a bit idealistic new teachers who likely became jaded and just folded to a system.

And what of the children? An entire decade worth of students who garnered false scores and not much in the way of an academic education. Hours were devoted to fixing answers rather than working to fix the skills and education of the students. Teachers and administrators fixed the symptoms that affected them rather than helping the children who needed help the most.

No Child Left Behind has turned into No Child Left Untested and an entire generation of children are paying for it. What have we wrought with out legislation? What are the long term effects of having students whose sole purpose is filling in tiny bubbles. And how do we fix it?

It's going to be a long rode for educators to recover from the Era of Testing. We'll adapt. We'll move on. We'll continue educating those who come to us. But what of the children we've already broken? Where will they be in ten years? Twenty? Fifty? What will they tell their children and grandchildren about school? What long term damage have we done? Only time will tell. For now we just have to admit that we've been wrong and we need to fix it. I say "we", but I was a high school student when NCLB was passed. Educators did not make this testing environment. Legislators did. And the average citizen is paying for it through tax dollars and watching a generation of children learn in spite of the testing system, if they learn at all.

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