Statewide educators’ organization argues that local school districts need more flexibility to adopt their own version of the Missouri assessment program or, to some extent, go their own way to demonstrate how children meet standards.
As lawmakers meet this month, the Missouri State Teachers Association will ask them to find ways to extend the principle of “local control” for next year’s testing program.
While such a plan does not seem in sight and the political clout needed for any major reform is considerable, securing greater freedoms for districts to build evaluations based on their own program has been a long-standing goal of the MSTA. . This would complement, and perhaps eventually replace, partially or totally, the MAP, depending on what the district decides to do.
“Change is always difficult,” said MSTA spokesman Matt Michelson. “Education is one of those things where the numbers don’t always tell the whole story. “
Michelson, the association’s education policy director, explained how this conversation is not being interpreted as a call for the removal of standardized testing. While the association remains of the view that testing should not have taken place as usual in the spring of 2021, Michelson confirmed how critical hard data is in understanding students’ skills in math, science and science. in language arts, among other subjects.
“Teachers are not afraid of responsibility,” he said. “Everyone needs data to guide their decisions. Our delegates made it clear that last year was not a good time to do student evaluations. All this time could be better spent if it was used for teaching time.
MSTA, based in Colombia, is accountable to its regional sections. St. Joseph’s is headed by Aly Shewell, a grade six teacher at Carden Park Elementary School. She said she spent some time reflecting on the merits of the MAP test, which all school districts were required to take. Ultimately, she decided the testing should go ahead, but explained how it would make sense to supplement or change the testing strategies for future periods.
“I was torn,” Shewell said. “I didn’t want to spend the last month of school (in the spring of 2021) testing. I wanted to be able to educate my students. But I also wanted to see everything they had learned since that weird COVID year. “
Shewell stressed that one of his goals as the regional leader of the MSTA is to encourage parents not to judge student success or failure solely on the basis of test data. Data is important, but too often it is not understood that learning is subjective and changing, non-objective and frozen. A new approach to testing should find a way to take this into account.
“That’s why we stay in class, it’s to do what’s best for our own students,” Shewell said. “And we never want to disappoint them. And I think sometimes the community forgets that, but that’s why we’re here. And that’s why we do what we do.