On teaching to what is not tested.

So fellow travelers, I’ve written before about the turbulence in education created by current trends which focus on “high stakes” testing. It’s a misguided push by politicians and private companies which basically results in a “teaching to the test” mode of education.  This is particularly true in areas where test results are being directly linked to state funding of school aid and staff performance.  In fifteen years of working as a special education assistant in our local school district I have seen a lot of educational trends come and go.  I have never seen anything so destructive to the educational process; its most damaging impact, in my opinion,  is the way this type of testing shatters kids’ confidence in their ability to learn.  Morale these days is at an all time low, yet educators are a resilient bunch, riding waves of change as they quietly continue doing what they do best: teaching our kids. Every now and then, I catch glimmers of hope.

  Take today when the students at C.W. Baker High School were greeted by this colorful display.


Here’s a closeup of what’s printed on the star balloon at the top of the arch.



We are celebrating a magnificent achievement!


At the beginning of the year, the Key Club announced an ambitious project with the Make A Wish program. (If you’re not familiar with the organization, google them; they do really good stuff.)  The students wanted to raise enough funds to fully fund one local child’s wish.  This meant raising $9,500 before spring break and after break our administrator announced that goal had been reached. From “Buy a Star” to zumba classes the students created a six month series of diverse events giving everyone an opportunity to support the project.   Today blue popsicles will be handed out to every student during lunch.  Balloons appeared by the project board in the main hallway.



So now a  nine year old girl with cystic fibrous goes on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas because students at our high school decided making a difference mattered.

I’m not sure how the New York Board of Education plans to measure this achievement on any of their tests.  Frankly measuring the accomplishment is no where near as important as knowing the experience of achieving this goal will remain with the students long after any testable knowledge has faded from their memory.

Walk softly on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Deborah H Rahalski

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