What If Educators Said No to the Test?

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Teach to the test. Take a practice test. Review the test. Teach to the test some more. Rinse. Repeat.

Education today is all about the test. Yet I’ve never known a teacher to say, “Boy, I love standardized tests.” Quite the contrary. Most teachers and many administrators oppose everything related to high stakes testing.

History demonstrates that power resides in the masses.
Many outspoken educators are not shy about voicing their opinions on the  matter. They complain in faculty lounges, at staff meetings or on their blogs that the test undermines everything that is good about teaching and learning. The test is unfair to students, who have a years-worth of learning judged in a single 150-minute testing session.

Worst of all, teachers declare, the test makes students hate learning. In spite of all of this, we keep administering this abomination every year, because the Common Core and our states mandate it.

One year, as our standardized test approached, I asked some colleagues why we keep giving it. “What do you mean?” one asked. “We just have to.” Again, I asked why.

What if, I suggested, we just say “No” to the test? We band together with voices stentorian and tell the bureaucrats to keep their test, because we refuse to humiliate our students with a single attempt at measuring their learning.

Imagine every teacher in your state promising solidarity and saying, “Don’t even send the test, because we will not administer it.” What would the government do? What could district leaders do? Fire every teacher in the state? Sure, they’d make threats; they already do. But history demonstrates that power resides in the masses.

Maybe, rather than give the decision-makers time to contemplate this possibility, we should treat the high stakes test like a broken contract, and we should go on strike for a day. I envision teachers, parents and students wearing “Just Say No!” pins and brandishing signs that say something like, “Our students are more than a number.”

Picture this day. The standardized test arrives, but the classrooms are dark and quiet.

Does it seem too fantastic? Does this read like fiction?

Start the conversation today. Order your pins. Create your signs.

Say No to the test, and make this historic day a reality.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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