"Every year, I said to myself this is the last time I'm going to do this."
Carl ChewCarl Chew is a middle school teacher in Seattle. He was suspended in April for two weeks without pay for refusing to administer the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) in his classroom. This is Washington's state test that is used to determine adequate yearly progress (AYP) as part of NCLB.
Here is why he did it:
I performed this single act of civil disobedience based on personal moral and ethical grounds, as well as professional duty. I believe that the WASL is destructive to our children, teachers, schools, and parents.What are teachers saying about this? Check out this very interesting discussion on the Teacher Leaders Network. Here's one post that really stood out for me. It's from Cindy, who teaches in the D.C. suburbs. She wrote:
What do we owe to Carl Chew? How can we add to his act of courage? How can we encourage other acts of civil disobedience?
For some time now, I have commented to others that “I used to be a better teacher than I am now.” This year, especially, we have bubble tested and online tested students constantly. These are not brief summative assessments; they are tests that take most students 50-70 minutes to complete. We are supposed to be making data-driven decisions based on the results of these tests. And guess what—the same students who did poorly in September are for the most part doing poorly now.
Sam, in my honors class, contributes brilliant insights during literature discussions, can tell you anything you want to know about World War II, asks for help whenever he needs it, and always is ready and willing to assist classmates in any way he can. But he has had trouble all year with multiple choice tests, usually scoring in the 60’s. In working with him one on one, I realized early on that he was over-thinking every question. He has extensive background knowledge. He reads all the time. So we have worked to minimize how much time he spends thinking about each question. Did I do Sam a favor by teaching him not to think? He was a much better student before he learned how to “take” multiple choice tests.