Testing and a missed opportunity
What a year this has been for educators. Teachers moved from virtual instruction to hybrid to in-person teaching. Educators were asked to adapt at a moment's notice. Some of our students lost their original teachers and had to build relationships with new ones. After all the chaos, the last thing any educator wanted to hear was that the Ohio state tests were required as usual.
Ohio state testing was not optional for our district. Parents could opt out for their children, but schools were still required to administer these tests. This seems especially misguided considering that some students lost access to their regular learning opportunities due to circumstances beyond their control. Why these tests were deemed necessary remains a mystery, but we do know that the scores will be used to judge and rank our schools and our teachers.
During the summer, you will begin seeing school rankings as they pop up in your newsfeed or local newspaper. As you read these rankings, notice that the higher the median income in a district, the higher the ranking. It has nothing to do with the quality of the schools, of the educators, or of the students. Are these tests necessary? Do they reveal anything that we don’t already know? The answer is no.
If administering and taking these tests wasn’t bad enough, the CH-UH school district decided that testing should continue throughout the month of May. These tests are supposed to “inform” our instruction. But it seems pointless and cruel to pile on more tests when our students have been sitting behind computer screens all school year.
The state-mandated tests came to an end in early May, only to be directly followed by another round of optional district testing, called the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), which is given three times a year. Students take these tests, also, on the computer. But wait there’s more! Teachers are required to administer common assessments. These district-created assessments, given before and after a unit, are also completed on computers.
I believe that teachers and their students should have time to do hands-on projects and other activities as break from the stress of this year. I believe the district missed a giant opportunity to help students enjoy school while engaging in meaningful learning.
Certainly, the district has faced the enormous challenge of making school accessible for all. I am sure all of our educators, students, and families were thrilled to see this school year end, and hope the 2021–22 school year begins normally, however “normal” will be defined. Our staff and families deserve a break. I hope we can all spend summer enjoying our families. After all we have been through, it’s well deserved!
Karen Rego has taught grades K-8 in the CH-UH district, and currently provides math and language support at Monticello Middle School. She is president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.