As states create laws to hold teachers accountable for students learning, educators all over the country are getting nervous. Test scores are now making up a higher percentage of teacher evaluations. In some states up to 50% of a teachers evaluation will be base upon ONE score on a standardized test. It seems logical to a non-educator that if the school’s goal is for students to learn then they should do well on these tests. Is it this simple or should teacher be nervous?
Teaching and learning are two different things that are closely related. Teaching involves presenting ideas to students for them to learn; learning is excepting these ideas and putting them into practice. Teaching is like an engine and learning is like the tires on a car. The engine provides the power for the wheels to move. But there are many parts (variables) that can cause the car not to go. Gears, drive-shafts, axles and rims can all stop the car from going forward even when the engine is running perfectly. Teaching can be great in a classroom but the student can have many other factors in their lives that inhibit learning. Illnesses, divorce of parents, death in the family and poverty are just a few issues that can slow down student’s learning in our classrooms. Try as the engine might, movement may not occur at expected rate. On the other side of the coin, the engine can be running poorly, but the car still moves smoothly. At times despite of poor teaching many students learn on their own. Just like the car rolling down the hill due to gravity. The teaching engine has had no impact on the growth, but the students grows due to inspiration and hard work.
Critics argue that nervous teacher don’t want to work hard to get results. “I taught it, but he/she didn’t learn it” is the quote often used to describe this attitude. Make it relevant and rigorous, critics argue, that this is the key for students success. Are test relevant to students if they are being used to judge the teacher? Is the learning relevant to students where education is not shown as valued in our society? Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are always introduced as college drop-outs. Film and sports stars are role models and are held in high esteem.Jobs that seem to require little or no formal education. On the other hand educators are constantly mocked in the media. Even our politicians argue about whether global climate change is a scientific fact. From our students vantage point education is not relevant. They know a diploma is needed but not the skills that a diploma represents. Our schools are a reflection of Our SOCIETY.
YES, educators are nervous because it feels like WE are the only ones making education relevant today. We can’t do our jobs alone. We need society to step up and make education a priority everywhere like it is in schools!
It can’t be educators vs the world anymore!