Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I am a Teacher of Conscience

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the past few weeks these are some of the things that have happened:

  1. One of my student bloggers wrote a blog (totally unprompted) about being nervous about the PARCC test.
  2. I read a story about a boy who asked for prayers at church one Sunday - prayers that he do a good job on his PARCC test. (Wish I bookmarked that link...)
  3. Jia Lee, a teacher from New York City addressed the Senate regarding the reauthorizing of NCLB. See her video here. (btw: Just watched that video again and the hair is standing up on my arms. Again.)
  4. A freshmen in high school set up this petition to open a conversation with legislation about High-Stakes Testing.
  5. More than 40 Superintendents in Illinois urged their legislators for a Common Core testing delay.

It's because of all these things and 100 more that I cannot remain silent any more. I share all of this with you, respectfully, and because morally-speaking, High-Stakes Testing really troubles me.

All this testing we are doing with children - it's not okay. I know I'm not the only one who believes this, and I know it's not easy to say something. If we want our profession back from Pearson and all the other people profitting on our children, we must speak up! Before Literacy Coach, I am a Michelle. I am a woman who is educated, who cares deeply for children, and who cannot silence the thoughts in my heart and mind any longer.

The testing has got to stop. Or in the very least, the conversation about testing has to get much, much louder.

I'll tell you why we're testing: Money. You know how much money Pearson is making on the PARCC test? Well, I don't know exact numbers, but it's a lot. A. LOT. How come in our profession, the professionals aren't trusted? I went to school for education. I have an advanced degree in literacy. I have worked with children for 12 years and have refined my practice day in and day out. Students don't need to take this test - now twice (once in March and then again in May) every year for my administration to know if I am an effective teacher.

Today I collaborated with three different grade levels in three planning meetings. At each one, we looked at student work - work specific to one standard with multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate learning - and we made conclusions about what misconceptions students had about each standard. We planned for reteaching and made rubrics that can communicate to parents if the child mastered the standard independently, with prompting, or not yet. This will be reflected in teacher instruction... tomorrow. We are the practitioners closest to our students. We are professionals. We know best.

Teachers, please join me in sharing your voice about High-Stakes Testing. In the very least, can you leave me a comment so I know I'm not alone?

Check out a great website: Teachers of Conscience. Be aware of what is going on in your local, state, and national political arena in regard to education. What I know now is teaching is far more political than I had ever thought as I grew up playing school in my basement dreaming of the day I would get to stand in front of a group of kids and teach them how to read and write.


  1. Amen! So thankful that I teach in a parochial school where at least we wait until third grade to test. My firsties can just learn for the pure joy off it. Well, almost!

  2. Thanks you. I am in the verge of crying or throwing up constantly because I feel so awful about what is going on...the amount of days I am losing teaching time to test other people's students. It helps to hear others speak how I am feeling. I just wish we could make a difference.

  3. You have stated exactly what's been rattling around in my head for the past few weeks as well...thank you. Your neighboring state is an embarrassment to the education community at the moment, and I am

  4. When people ask me if I like Kindergarten (where I am now) or Third Grade (which I taught the first 2 years of teaching) better, I always say K. I think part of it was my lack of experience when I taught 3rd, but what I remember is the testing aspect of it. I love K, don't get me wrong, but I wonder if I'd feel differently about 3rd if it weren't for the testing pressure. Hope you are enjoying you weekend!

    A Very Curious Class

  5. So proud of you for this post! It's great! I was so angry, frustrated, sad, etc. when I read Riley's PARCC post. Your last sentence is so true!

  6. It's always upsetting to me how little all of this testing has to do with promoting actual learning.


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