Q: What about education frustrates me the most?
A: I have an easy answer for that: testing. I absolutely cannot think of time that I spend more poorly in an entire school other than the week that where my students take standardized achievement tests. What frustrates me even more than the amount of time involved is how the tests are used. I teach at a private school so these test results are used as a yard stick to compare my school against other private schools in the area. In the past couple of years, I have often wondered whether this is truly a desirable path to go down. I know that test scores provide an "easy" measurement of student knowledge. I'm fearful and frustrated about certain leaders' in education desire to boil all student learning down to a quantifiable number.
As I have reflected over my work in education as an adult, I have come to realize that I am rarely tested or evaluated. Yet, why does the traditional education model continually test and grade student learning. Teachers absolutely need data that students are learning, but why can't this learning be demonstrated with informal types of lessons and assessments. Constant grading of work does little, and often nothing, to encourage student learning. I have come to see how I focus too much on grading not only as a teacher, but as a parent, and I don't focus on what my students and own children are learning.
I have made the decision to focus my evaluation of my students' learning towards mastery not perfection, or 100%. Yes, mastery and other levels of assessment criteria will be part of my thinking, but perfection and ranking will not. I know that these alterations in my thinking will require communication with my students and their families. I am excited and hopeful that the changes that I am making will result in greater student interest in their own learning.