I CRIED TODAY!
By: Robyn Brydalski
I cried today. Tears streamed down my face as I entered the sterile hallway to walk the dreaded tests to the secure return location. I cried for my students. For three solid days and over two hundred minutes, these bright eyed eight year olds gave it their all. I cried for the teaching profession. In the fifteen years I have dedicated to this profession I have experienced many changes to curriculum, grading and assessing, but never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined education could have evolved to this current state of disorder. I cried tears of anger because had I been given the professional trust and freedom to implement units and lessons of days gone by, my students would have been far better prepared for the impossible tasks they were expected to complete this week. My Language Arts program would have incorporated a variety of genres and author studies, multiple ways to respond to reading, guided reading, Readers Theater and lessons designed on (gasp) student interests, all while interconnecting the arts, music and theater into a well-rounded learning experience.
I complied with district and state expectations by teaching a scripted module. These modules were supposed to prepare our students for the test. The over 50% focus on non-fiction text would better prepare our students for their futures. The scripted lessons were to create cohesiveness among a grade level, a district and a state. Instead, it set us further behind. NYSED knew exactly what it was doing when it presented ENGAGENY’s modules to districts. The modules that were written because of the Common Core would be a perfect, inexpensive way to cover our bases. We all ate the forbidden fruit and now we will suffer the consequences.
My blood boiled and anger seethed from the deepest parts of my heart when I saw the confusing passages and misleading questions. This test played on an eight year old mind taking advantage of these literal thinkers full knowing, on their own, very few students would be able to analyze, synthesize and evaluate an author’s message. The sheer volume of passages was exhausting. One of my brightest students was so confused by a question that she shut down and gave up. She looked at me and said, “I’m just stupid, I guess.” She is eight years old. No eight year old deserves to feel this way. I cried tears of pain when many of my students looked to me for guidance and clarification. I encouraged them but I knew without a teacher guiding them, they would not be successful with the expected question and my students knew this. How is this right? How is this just? How is this a true measure of good teaching? My students persevered through day one, toughed it out for day two but by day three could not demonstrate any evidence of learning. They were academically beat, physically exhausted and morally defeated.
I am surrounded by amazing teachers who give their hearts and souls to this profession. These veteran teachers are the backbone of every building. They lead, they share, they guide, they teach and they love their students. My final tear shed today was because I did a disservice to my students. Our children deserve only the best educational experiences. These tests will never show the tremendous strides each child can make over ten months.