11 more to go!

When I hit publish on this post, it will be my thirty-first post in a row! I can celebrate having finished one month of daily blog posting. Now I have eleven more months to go! This year I am looking at my goals as projects.

I desire to look at the daily opportunities in front of me and connect to them, rather than looking for a result in the future that may or not happen. For example, one goal for the year is to graduate with my Master’s Degree in Special Education. I began the program last January, and now the finish line is in sight.

At the current moment, I am in a battle with myself and the course material. I have a research methods exam coming up at the end of February. There are several obstacles in my path. The first is that I am getting very anxious before I take a high-stakes test. The second is that I can’t entirely agree with the concept of a high-stakes test. Two obstacles. As an educator, to get my license, I had to take five high-stakes tests, all of which cost between 75-100 dollars each.

Out of the five, I only passed two on the first try. The tests had nothing to do with my teaching ability. They were the results of our countries obsession with measurement and status. When a fellow teacher from Canada heard about this, he was stunned. In Canada, he said his degree from College was good enough, and then you teach and get evaluated grow in the field through experience.

I agree that is the way it should be. The issue with these tests is that if you don’t pass them, you either keep taking them or don’t get your license. That is how it works. I have seen teachers who are excellent in the classroom working with kids, but they can’t pass the test, and they end up getting discouraged, or they end up going into debt taking the tests over and over.

The system burns me up. The people who advocate using data have zero data to show a cause and effect relationship between the ability to teach and your performance on a test.

Even though I passed all the tests, I am still bitter, and even though I have to take another high stakes test, and if I don’t pass it, my master’s degree is a non-starter. The test doesn’t matter. I know how to write a research paper. I know the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, inductive and deductive reasoning. Yes, you should know that if you are writing a research paper. The test doesn’t measure that. The test measures if I can answer 58 multiple choice questions in 120 minutes, and those questions are designed to trick me. This has nothing to do with academic research. Imagine showing up to a conference with a research paper that you claimed you did in 120 minutes?

Guess what. The people in positions of power don’t agree with me. I can get angry. I can get upset. I can write posts like this and get people to agree with me and nod their heads. There are many Ted Talks about test-taking and how they are harmful, but guess what? People cheer those Ted Talks, people agree with those Ted Talks, but you know what they don’t do? They keep the tests.

So my choice is this. I have to take it. I have to study. I have to change my mindset. I have to stop being angry and find fun ways to study. I am not in a position of power. I have heard the term Speak truth to Power. I think that we have a lot of people who are speaking truth to power. What we need is The People who are in power to listen to those who are speaking.

One thought on “11 more to go!

  1. Hey Steven,
    This is a topic that I, too, can find myself in a good ol’ fashioned rant over. And, like you, I’ve written, listened to, watched, and read many similar thoughts and ideas about why we need to do away with the tests. And it is frustrating that the status quo persists.
    I wonder what you (or I, for that matter) might write about this topic if we lean into empathy and the worldview of those, in power or otherwise, who keep the tests going despite people like us having a desire for change in this area

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