Sacrificing Actual Learning for Standardized Testing

It’s day two of MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing in the my classroom. We have a day to go. I’m vacillating between immense, crushing boredom (I’ve already given every student a spirit animal, and a superhero name), and intense fury that we actually had to drop one of our yearly novels to do it.

Between MAP testing and our state’s standardized test, we had to get rid of If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson. While we were wracking our brains trying to figure out how to fit it in, our Vice Principal actually suggested we get rid of a book.

I suppose it shows where the priorities are.

The only good thing about getting rid of that book is that I don’t have to say, “Get your If You Come Softly books out!” without hearing a chorus of giggles, and “If we what softly?” (I love you, Ms. Woodson, but you really have to think about your YA titles. The sequel to this one, as my darling students pointed out with glee, is called Behind You.) 

Inappropriate titles for teenagers aside, I am mourning the loss of this novel. This is the book we used to teach about microaggressions, single stories, and the Black Lives Matter movement. We would talk about white privilege, and what it means to be an ally. By the end of the unit, our students have a much firmer grasp of what being white or a person of color, or any marginalized group means in our society.

Instead they are answering multiple choice questions about things like toboggans and synonyms. A few of my students don’t even know what a freakin’ toboggan is. I would tell them that that question directly correlates to white privilege, but they would have no idea what that means.

I’m trying to figure out how to tell my administrators that when our students think back on their 7th grade year (assuming they actually do that. Whenever I even start to think about middle school, I just cringe) do we want them to remember that super awesome standardized test, or remember that moment they realized they wanted to be an super awesome ally for those around them?

Do we want our students to be good test takers or good people? That’s what it boils down to. I guess I have my answer.





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