About Lori H Rice

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade since 1996. She has a passion for creativity, learning, questioning and the whole child. Her classroom is a place of acceptance and celebrating differences.

High stakes testing is a common discussion within education today.  There are teachers who are willing to risk their educational careers to step up and voice their opinions about all of the testing being given in our schools today.  I have always believed you have to advocate for your children.  I do that constantly.  If I think something should be going on I find information to support my beliefs and stand up.  The teachers who say they are done testing are now doing this.  There is a fine line between understanding what students know, accountability for what is being taught, and the best way to gather this information.  We have to find and understand that balance to move forward in education.

Two years ago my daughter was sick.  We knew something was not right and as a mother I watched her struggle as we tried to get answers.  Our family doctor, whom I admire and respect, did what he knew to do.  We went through the process of trying medicines and other things to help her.  Nothing was working; the tests for everything he knew to give were negative and yet she was getting worse.

This was high stakes testing in real life.  I did not expect our doctor to run one test and then go from there.   I did not judge him on the failed attempts to solve her problem.  And when he knew what he was doing was not an answer he sent us to a specialist.  The specialist was quick to diagnose her problem, but again, they were wrong.  After an invasive procedure we found she had a very rare condition.  We had answers.  We developed a plan.  They saved my daughter’s life.  Literally.  There was a mass in her trachea that had it been left it would have continued to grow and would have cut off her air supply completely.  Today she is happy, healthy, and “normal”.

I think of this as we approach our state assessments.  I believe in teaching children to think, problem solve, and use their creativity to find answer and new solutions.  I use questioning in my classroom to push my students.  I teach my students to research and how to use tools to find answers to things they don’t  know.  This is real life.  This is what my daughter’s doctor did to save her.  BUT, we will give a state test soon to see if my students and those around the country have what they need to know.  I think this is a very important part of their learning, but it is not the end of their learning.  It is also just one piece to the puzzle.

So what do we do?  I believe as professionals we must teach.  We need to move through our curriculum incorporating skills that will take our students through life.  We need to use higher level questioning , project based learning, problem solving, and critical thinking in our classrooms.  It is an exciting time to be an educator with the technology and tools available for differentiated lessons.  Teaching students to think will get them through life and if we can teach them to do that, shouldn’t we be OK on those state assessments?  How do I know? My history tells me we will.

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