I walked from Connecticut to Washington DC in 2010 and 2105 to protest High-Stakes Testing and inequity in our public schools. What did I discover about standardized testing in our public schools on those walks? I discovered it was demoralizing teachers and destroying the desire to learn in their students. Those 400 plus mile walks took 40 days to complete each time. I met over a thousand teachers and parents on those walks. All the teachers I met shared that constant testing was destroying the motivation to teach. Destroying the desire to learn in the students they taught. They said they spent 8-12 weeks of the school year preparing for, practicing for, and giving mandated testing. Parents told me the testing is making their children hate going to school. Not one teacher, not one parent, not one student expressed anything positive about the testing in their schools during walks.
What else did I learn about our nation's love affair with High-Stakes Testing? It is stealing 2-3 months of valuable learning time. It is costing our nation BILLIONS of dollars. There is no evidence that more standardized testing ever improved learning in our public schools. The Literature does contain numerous studies documenting an over emphasis on standardized testing increases the number of students labeled special education, students with behavior problems, and anxiety concerns.
18 years after NCLB turned our children into test scores, it should not come a surprise that Social Emotional Learning is emerging as a hot topic. America spent over 1.2 billion dollars on NCLB and RTTT. The real surprise is that after 19 years of testing reform failures our leaders can't see the Elephant in the room. Trust me on this one thing, teachers, children, and parents see that Elephant.
I say if educators and parents are really concerned about Social Emotional Learning then we should demand that testing money go to supporting and bringing SEL into our schools. Once the testing is gone we will get back the time and funding needed to truly support SEL in our public schools. Time to kick the Elephant out of the room.
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director
|Parents and teachers together can't be defeated