Monday, March 27, 2006

Band Together and Test

The Washington Post reports on Florida's new initiative edict/paradigm linking teacher pay including the potential for raises to student performance on the FCAT (the state standardized test). The picture of a student pep rally coupled with the article is priceless. Notice the band of enthusiastic boys in the forefront. Now notice the majority of students sitting idle. Now look again at the expressions on the boys' faces. Is it just me or is there a little sneering superciliousness in their reactions? Surely the kids can see some of the irony in a pep rally to score well on an individual test. Aren't pep rallies generally about getting a team excited to achieve victory? I know, I know. There is something good and exciting about celebrating the individual too, or in this case parallels about teamwork and "we're all in it together" are easy to substantiate, but there is a bit of perversity in stirring kids into a frenzy only to sit them down to quietly take a test that lasts for hours on end. This band of boys is on to it.

As for linking teacher pay to standardized test outcomes, more to come... But an early reaction is that this is a tough call. If we (they) want to base this much on tests then the tests better well measure something the teacher has a lot of control over. It's tough to see how any restraints on the importance of tests and testing will remain in this Florida teaching/testing environment.


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