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We are in the middle of testing madness. End of Year tests, AP exams, ACT & SAT results, LEAP, iLEAP, and PARCC, whatever you are going through- know that you are not alone.

No one can understand the pressure of a high stakes test unless you are personally involved. The weight that is tied to your heart grows heavier and heavier as April and May approach. You completely relinquish control of your class to the state or testing company. They create the test, you cannot see it, they decide when you can give it and how long the kids have to take it, and you cannot even be in the same room with them. You spend every day with your students, you have learned their strengths and weaknesses, and you have differentiated instruction and followed IEPs, now every test is exactly the same. Oh, the irony of it all.

We wonder if we have taught the material correctly. Was it complex enough? Did we format our tests correctly? Did we practice enough? Will they remember a thesis statement? Will they cite correctly? During testing week, I am here physically, but my mind is always on my kids. Are they okay? Did I do enough to prepare them? Will they try their best? Because I know I gave them my best.

Giving up control is not exactly what teachers are best at doing. We give up our children to a company that doesn’t know their names. A company that doesn’t see that they have gone from here to there. A company that is out for a profit. A concept that we as teachers do not nor will ever understand. This is all for data. It is to help us, so they say. It weeds out the good teachers from the bad. It shows where we are weak as if we didn’t spend the last nine months with these kids. Yes, a test will show us what they need.

When the tests are over, we wait on scores. Refresh, refresh, refresh. Click, click, click. Where are they? The company said two days; it has been three. The students are curious as well. They ask every day. Their hearts fall a little when you tell them not yet. When the scores arrive, mixed emotions are felt. There will be tears of joy and sadness. You cannot let scores define your students. Just as you cannot let them define you. A number will not make you a better teacher next year. A number will not erase how much growth a student has obtained. A number is a number. If you know, you have taught your heart out, that is all that matters. Scores are tied to your score as a teacher and sometimes it is heartbreaking. I know we all want an A because that is who we are. We strive to be the best. But what you fail to realize is you are already the best.

You have worked with amazing kids all year. You have taught them things they had no idea existed. You have shown them ways to look at the world differently. You had offered emotional support when they had none.

You have given them encouragement when they thought no one believed in them. No test can measure that. You are amazing and do not let anyone or any test tell you differently. You are a teacher, and no score could ever measure your worth.

Alice has been teaching for fourteen years. She currently teaches English I, English III, English...

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