Being a teacher has always come with its own challenges but recent years have added standardized testing to that list of difficulties. When a teacher’s career depends on how well their students perform on standardized tests, it becomes difficult to focus on much else during class time. With these new priorities, society has to wonder if teaching is still considered to be a fulfilling job.
Related resource: 15 Cheapest Online Programs in Educational Leadership and Administration
Why do standardized tests matter?
Back in 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the No Child Left Behind Act, the intention was to offer the opportunity for every child to have access to education. In 2001, President George W. Bush revised that Act to include a way to hold accountability for the performance of children in school in an effort to bridge the achievement gap because schools had a higher failure rate in poor and minority communities. Standardized testing was the tool that would help the government to assess each child’s performance and hold their teachers accountable if they failed to perform to their standards. President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 to replace its predecessor but standardized testing remained. This emphasis on passing the tests became a top priority and it will likely remain that way until someone with the necessary authority sees fit to change the legislation.
How does standardized testing affect teachers?
With the importance of standardized testing in the rise, teachers face more and more pressure for their students to perform well. Because these test can have such a huge impact on their careers and may be directly tied to their salaries, more class time is spent preparing students for passing these tests than building skills that may help them in life. According to the National Education Association, this lack of control over what they teach and how they teach it can lead to a tremendous amount of stress. They must alter lesson plans and “teach to the test” in order to ensure that their students will be capable of passing. Even with these endless hours of preparation, they simply can’t control how well their students will perform. This pressure leads some teachers to completely give up their teaching careers after only a few years.
Is teaching still a fulfilling career?
Although standardized testing does dictate the majority of teaching requirements, there are still several other benefits that make teaching worthwhile. Some people become teachers simply because they love children and are good at getting through to them. Others may want to reach out to troubled youth and help them through rough times in their lives. Some may have been inspired by a teacher as a child and want to pass on that inspiration to the next generation. In the National Public Radio’s segment about teaching in America, they referred to a teacher named Pamela Guy who said that teachers have to feel called to the work, and then put their hearts into it. A teacher’s career includes much more than teaching the material on a test but it’s those other factors that may determine whether or not the job is worth doing. If they truly feel that calling, then even standardized tests can’t stand in the way of that fulfillment.
As with most jobs, there are positives and negatives that make a person choose to either continue down that path or try an alternative. Standardized testing may make some teachers lose their desire to teach, but those dedicated teachers that believe their career has a deeper meaning can still find fulfillment