Friday, January 19, 2007


Today was the final day of the statewide English Language Arts exam for my sixth graders. There are four questions based on two stories. One of the questions was a small chart in which students listed the advantages and disadvantages of living on a houseboat. In all of the test prep I provided (much of which was about looking at these types of charts in order to clearly understand what to do,) I never used the terms "advantages" and "disadvantages." And while I'm sure I mentioned them in my regular teaching, I never offered a definition.

So, many of my students who understood the article could not answer the question. I talked to two other special ed teachers after the test, and they experienced the same thing in their own classrooms: upset students angrily staring into space or crying in frustration in an environment that demands absolute silence and absolutely no help from the teacher. The pressure we put these students under is outrageous. I understand the desire for teacher accountability, but I also know that I am my worst critic, and I beat myself up for hours over the fact that I had never defined these words for them, nevermind all the other things I have introduced to them this year.

Is there a way to achieve teacher accountability without putting the students through such stress? Is there a way to show student achievement accurately? Is there something that could stop my circling thoughts about test scores and my ability to help my students achieve.

No comments: