Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Topic: Board Certified Teacher vs. Mandated Assessment

10-second review: The definition of teacher according to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) conflicts with the realistic requirement to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing students for assessments rather than teaching.

Title: Performing ‘Teacher’: A Case Study of a National Board Certified Teacher.” T.S. Johnson. English Education (January 2009), 158-176. English Education is the NCTE’s publication on teacher education.

Summary: A veteran English teacher undergoes the experience of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). However, in her school district, she is constrained to emphasize test preparation rather than real teaching. Conclusion? “Be compliant and selectively defiant.” And remember that Foucauld said, Teachers “are much freer than they feel.”

Comment: I never had the problem that today’s teachers have of substituting test preparation for teaching. And I don’t know what “Be compliant and selectively defiant” means in practice. I have always felt that if I taught students to read and write that they could pass any test. When I taught in New York State, I approached the Regents’ Exam in that way and was quite successful in terms of percentage of students who passed.

But then came the SAT when it was an IQ test—antonyms, analogies, sentence completion and reading comprehension—that had relatively little relationship to what I was teaching in English and I knew that I had to give some time to test preparation. That would be my solution today: Teach students to read, write, speak and interpret literature and work briefly on test preparation. When students know what to expect on the test and understand strategies for taking the test, they are able to do their best.

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