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NCLB Outrages

Teachers: Tests Don't Define Our Students

Any act of teacher rebellion is to be celebrated.

by Alison Kepner

As students return to class this month, Delaware teachers are spending
big bucks to spread their back-to-school message: "A student is more
than a test score."

Last week, 44 billboards went up statewide, soon to have their message
reiterated in a two-week radio spot that will hit the airwaves Aug. 20.

Delaware State Education Association, the state's largest school
employee union, will spend $49,000 on the campaign.

The message is a shot at the federal No Child Left Behind law, now up
for re-authorization. DSEA leaders' aim is to let families know that
teachers know testing is not teaching and that testing is not learning.

"Teachers in public schools are caring people who understand that the
goal is students who are productive, hard-working, responsible citizens
who live up to their potential," spokeswoman Pamela Nichols said in an
e-mail. "Testing is a tool to evaluate teaching and learning -- it's not
the goal. But that is what it has become under NCLB."

Frederika Jenner, a sixth-grade science teacher at H.B. du Pont Middle
School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, said it is an
important message.

"There has just been such an incredible focus on scores, on individual
student scores, on class scores, on school scores, on using scores to
prove or disprove a teacher's effectiveness," she said. "Ever since the
first day I stepped in the classroom, I understood my accountability. My
greatest accountability is to those kids sitting in front of me and to
their families.

"Most of the teaching staff gets that and responds to it."

"This focus on testing as the be-all and end-all, as the No. 1 indicator
of the success of a student or the success of a teacher or the success
of a school has distracted us," she said.

Nichols said educators want students to love learning, not love being
tested: "For many students, an overemphasis on testing will, in fact,
kill their love of learning."

— Alison Kepner
Delaware News Journal


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