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Five years ago, researchers for the National Education Association (NEA) surveyed 1,500 teachers from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 about standardized testing. The results were alarming: Nearly half (45 percent) of teachers said that they had considered quitting their jobs at one point because of standardized testing. The biggest reasons?
The weighted importance of assessment scores led to the phrases “teaching to the test” and “drill and kill,” which came to represent teachers who spent large amounts of time teaching and quizzing their students on test-type questions in order to raise their scores, sometimes at the expense of other curriculum.
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“The (No Child Left Behind) law is uniformly blamed for stripping curriculum opportunities, including art, music, physical education and more, and imposing a brutal testing regime that has forced educators to focus their time and energy on preparing for tests in a narrow range of subjects: namely, English/language arts and math,” wrote the NEA in 2014. “For students in low-income communities, the impact has been devastating.”
However, there is change afoot: By 2017, many places across the nation were working to reform and reduce standardized testing. Some districts are cutting the amount of time spent on testing, or enlarging the criteria upon which teachers are judged to include such things as challenging curriculum, school culture, and class size. Many districts have eliminated high school exit exams or discontinued plans for such tests. Some states now allow parents to opt their children out of testing altogether.
But by and large, standardized testing is still the norm, and the majority of teachers must teach the core curriculum and prepare their students for the assessments while still finding ways to be creative in the classroom and responsive to each student.
“The words ‘standardized testing’ usually come with a lot of groans and eye rolls,” says the website TeachHub. “But test preparation doesn’t have to be stressful and boring.” Some suggestions:
“Creativity and the State Standards” is one of three continuing education courses offered by DominicanCAOnline (Dominican University of California) that focuses on creativity in the classroom. Course assignments include the following:
The course (EDUO 9792) is designed to complement and build on Introduction to Classroom Creativity (EDUO 9791) and Imagination, Innovation, and Creative Problem Solving (EDUO 9793). They are online, self-paced courses that count for one or two semester credit each. For information on DominicanCAOnline, click here. Or to register, click here.