Spring testing season is approaching. Schools and teachers again face penalties if their student scores do not continue to rise.
The result: More school districts are saying “no” to university requests to place student teachers.
This unexpected consequence of the No Child Left Behind legislation and testing fever first appeared in Tennessee. That state was “lucky” enough to receive $500 million in the national Race to the Top grant competition. The strings attached to that money forced Tennessee to require teacher tenure to be tied to ever-rising student test scores.
With their pay and jobs dependent on student scores, teachers and school administrators are no longer gambling that student scores might drop in a classroom where they are training a student teacher.
Though Kansas has not yet tied pay and tenure to student test scores, Kansas is being required to move the last steps toward 100 percent proficiency by 2014 under No Child Left Behind. The only hope for relief from this insane goal is to apply for a waiver. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has made it clear that any waivers will require a state to tie teacher evaluation and tenure to student scores. It is not certain if enough Kansas schools will agree to a performance pay system so Kansas can apply for a waiver this month.
Either way, Kansas is headed for gun-to-the-head teaching. Student teaching will be pushed aside.
The drill-and-kill test preparation will reach fever pitch soon. And every school lives in fear of not making its annual yearly performance mandate.
Regardless of effort, more schools will fail to reach the goalpost that continues to move closer to requiring 100 percent. Duncan predicts “failed schools” will reach 80 percent.
The solution to this insanity does not rest with waivers or value-added schemes. The problem is overtesting. And the solution rests in the hands of Kansas parents.
Kansas parents of schoolchildren have the right to opt their children out of state assessments. If the number of students participating in the Kansas testing drops below 95 percent, the data are no longer considered valid for No Child Left Behind.
Across the country, parents have the opportunity to bring an end to the test madness and force the federal educationists to stop treating our children as lab rats.
This spring, tell your school that your child will not be taking the Kansas assessments.