How the Testing Regime Drives Out Our Best Teachers

Reference: Diane Ravitch's Blog

‘A site to discuss better education for all’

March 14, 2014

By Diane Ravitch

Wherever I go, I hear stories about the exodus of teachers from the profession. The same story is told everywhere: I am sick of the non-stop testing. I didn’t become a teacher to administer tests, I became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of children, I became a teacher because I love history and want to share my love. The testing regime is crushing my kids and crushing me too.

Our nation is losing talented and experienced teachers. They are literally being driven out of the profession by federal and state mandates attached to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Many states now administer tests not to measure student progress, but to measure teacher “effectiveness,” despite the fact that there is no research base for this practice.

Why would any nation want to drive teachers out of a profession that is under-paid, under-respected, and constantly criticized by non-educators? Enrollments in education programs are dropping. The federal government, abetted by extremist legislatures and governors, are literally attacking the teachers of our nation. Who will take their place? Certainly not Teach for America. It sends 10,000 young, inexperienced, ill-trained college graduates to teach for two years, into a profession of more than 3 million teachers.

Does anyone think that the teaching profession is getting better as a result of the relentless attacks on teachers?

The modal year of teacher experience dropped dramatically in the past generation from 15 to 1 (see page 10). Do we want most of our doctors and airline pilots to be novices?

Here is the story of one teacher, Ron Maggiano, an award-winning Virginia teacher who quit after 33 years.

Valerie Strauss wrote about him here. She wrote:

Ron Maggiano is a social studies teacher at West Springfield High School in Fairfax County. In 2005, he won the Disney Teacher Award for innovation and creativity, and in 2006, he won the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Family Teaching Prize for outstanding K-12 teaching. Now, after a 33-year teaching career, he is resigning, just four years away from full retirement.

Why? He’s had enough of the high-stakes testing obsession that he believes has undermined public education.

To read Ron Maggiano’s comments and rest of Diane Ravitch’s blog post, click here.