As city teachers prepare for the second year of more difficult state exams, Chancellor Carmen Fariña urged them to lighten up a little.
In her weekly email to principals, the chancellor acknowledged teachers and families might be stressed about the state assessments in April. Her advice?
"A good way to ease these concerns, especially for younger students, is to share Judith Finchler’s book, Testing Miss Malarkey (Walker Children, reprint 2003), which offers a humorous take on the world of standardized testing. While standardized tests are a reality of public school life, we must remember that our driving focus is on teaching and learning."
There's only one problem with this advice - the governor of the state has doubled down in the last few weeks on the test-based evaluation system for teachers, so it's really kinda hard to make light of the tests when you're wondering if you'll still have a job after the scores come in and get run through the value-added measurement mechanism in Governor Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation system.
While I try and minimize the anxiety for my students around the Regents exams as best I can, I also make sure they understand that their scores have real-world consequences for themselves, for their teachers and for their school.
I also let them know that if they think that this is unfair, unjust or plain crazy, they should throw the politicians who put systems like this in place out of office when they reaching voting age.
In theory, Chancellor Farina has given good advice here.
Alas, as the chancellor is giving this advice about lightening the burden around testing, Governor Andrew Cuomo in the same month is letting everybody know that test-based evaluations WILL be used on teachers and, as he told the Buffalo teachers union last year when they tried to make a deal to avoid APPR firings the first year the system was in place, teachers WILL be fired as a result.
Nothing funny about that.