Saturday, December 20, 2014

Passing the PARCC test is the wrong goal by Anthony Cappetta




“Fighting against unjust policies is where we teachers can lead by example and teach our students ‘real-life’ lessons. In their essay, the Teach Plus Fellows agree that teachers should not have to teach to a test, yet they seem to conclude that we are helpless in changing the policies that mandate such tests. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We can and must challenge harmful educational practices. 

“In reading the recent guest essay that the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows wrote about the soon-to-debut PARCC test, I was flabbergasted to see their opening paragraph end with the absurd statement that by participating in the test roll-out this year, ‘students in Chicago will be able to do something amazing: They have the opportunity to pilot the PARCC without the fear of failure.’

“I did not enter the profession of education to inspire my students to be great test-takers.  I hope no teacher did.  The notion that piloting a standardized test for which the publishing giant Pearson received a multi-million dollar no bid contract would be an amazing opportunity for our students is down right inflammatory. Instead of letting our students be guinea pigs for testing companies, I hope we as a profession are driven to create the opportunities that change our student’s hearts and minds for the overall betterment of society…

“We must challenge and protest unjust policies like VAM that stigmatize our urban students, teachers and school systems as ‘failing.’ Last year, thousands of students opted out of standardized tests, and some teachers took the bold move of boycotting the test altogether.  This is the creative resistance that is necessary to turn the tide against the harmful practice of using VAMs to evaluate teachers and schools.  

“Let’s seize this opportunity to PARK the PARCC in a low-stakes environment before CPS and other school districts across the country have the opportunity to turn it into a high-stakes test.  Not only will we stand on the right side of history, we also will challenge our students to think about what actions they can take to change the world they live in.”
  

Anthony Cappetta is a math teacher at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, an active member of the CORE caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union, and a member of the Catalyst Editorial Advisory Board, as is a former Teach Plus fellow.

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