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Sunday, February 28, 2016


School districts may be winning the battle with higher test scores, but they might actually be losing the war in terms of well-rounded and educated citizens.

It makes me sad and angry when I hear teachers say things like, “I’m just a data collector. I don’t teach. I just assess and collect data.” When I started teaching over four decades ago we didn’t have to collect data. We TAUGHT our children and we had time to work with them in small groups, individually, and to know their strengths and weaknesses.

What’s the point? Do you really need to spend all that instructional time asking children things that you know they have already mastered or writing down things you know they don’t know? It’s not just the classroom time teachers spend on data collecting, it’s the hours they spend after work putting in numbers when they could be making a game or planning a creative lesson. They are burned out because they are spinning their wheels doing something that they don’t perceive as valuable.  (Not to mention how all this stresses children!)
And, what’s the big deal about a test score? It’s just a number. It doesn’t reflect the whole child – their attitude – their interactions with others – their emotionality – their individuality – their creativity. If you’re reading this blog I know you agree with me.

My point today is to share some information from surveys of job skills that major corporations (Target, Microsoft, etc.) look for in employees. I fail to see anything related to a test score, but I do see everything we promote through active learning, working/playing with classmates, centers, games, creative activities…all of the things we’ve done traditionally in early childhood. These are the roots of what our children will need one day to be successful and healthy adults. Where do the three forces in today’s schools (aka tests, rigor, and technology) fit into future needs and goals?

The studies are broad, but these job skills are consistently reported as critical:

Verbal communication
Teamwork – ability to work with others
Problem solving
Written communication
Positive attitude

When our children construct something with blocks, when they do partner projects, when start and complete a center activity, when they express themselves and teachers have time to listen…when we allow them to do naturally what four, five, and six year olds should be doing we are planting the seeds that will help them the rest of their lives. Take heart, my friends, shut your door, and teach those kids the way you know is best!!!

No, I don’t make this stuff up! Check it out for yourself.