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“Test prep means rote memorization on multiple choice tests. I worry that my students are missing out on learning to love literature.” Annie Davidian-Moos, Dinuba Teachers Association overall excellence of a school. The school in my district with lower scores has the reputation of being a little rougher, but it’s still a good school. And because of test scores, that school has been stigmatized within my district and now has less to of- fer students in the way of programs and opportunities.” Lack of a well-rounded experience Tests scores do not show the myriad of strengths that each child brings to the classroom and to society, says Joe Lucido, a fifth-grade teacher at Liddell Elementary School in Fresno and a member of the Central Unified Teach- ers Association. Lucido co-founded Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse with his father, Rog Lucido, a retired teacher, because they believe students are be- coming turned off to school due to con- stant testing and pre-testing. It is not uncommon for students to take upward of 6 to 10 tests a year outside of their regular test to prepare them for the “real” test, says Lucido. “There’s never been a study proving more testing equals more learning,” he says. “It doesn’t.” “Standardized testing doesn’t show the growth my children make,” says Ba- bette Jaire, a longtime special educa- tion teacher for students with mild to moderate disabilities at Alpha Elemen- tary School in Madera. “It doesn’t offer a true snapshot of a student’s growth that year. And it makes them feel like failures. It makes the school environ- ment very stressful for children, teach- ers and administrators.” It takes time for new programs and curriculum to take effect, so scores may not show instantly whether something is working or not. Nonetheless, says Jaire, president of the Madera Unified Teachers Association, schools become “frantic” to find instant solutions and are constantly switching tactics with- out sound reasoning. “Schools feel that they have to find something else right away. Everyone is at a frantic pace to find the next best thing. They say, ‘We tried that and it didn’t work after a year, so throw it out.’ There is a feeling of insecurity, and children lack a foundation to build up- on previous knowledge. Data takes time; and we have to take time to re- flect on what it means.” Annie Davidian-Moos, a teacher at Dinuba High School, believes that test- ing also reveals what kinds of things students have been exposed to. For ex- ample, questions may refer to Cinder- ella, glass slippers and a clock striking midnight. Some of her students, espe- cial ly English learners, have never heard of Cinderella. She became an English teacher to share her love of literature with stu- dents. But only her honors class reads novels. Other students read excerpts of novels or anthologies in their text- books. “For me, teaching is basically test prep,” says the Dinuba Teachers Asso- ciation member. “And test prep means rote memorization on multiple choice tests. I feel l ike I’m a proctor more than a teacher. I worry that my stu- dents are missing out on learning to love literature.” left: Student Abel Sanchez watches as his teacher reviews a difficult problem at Giano Middle School in West Covina. top: Isabel Gonzalez and Danika Flores at Giano Middle School. 16 California Educator | november 2009

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