Valuing Your Professional Judgment

This article originally appears in @OECTA Magazine, published June 2016

You are a teacher and make no mistake about it, you are doing God’s work. You are a professional, caring individual that more often than not, loses sleep over that one student who may not have succeeded as well as you would have liked. You live and breathe learning, in and out of your students, curricular lessons and even more so, life-lessons. You have trained, philosophized, argued, cried and reflected upon everything to do with education… everything. You operate as a surrogate parent, attuning your senses to pangs of hunger, outcries for attention, fear of social abandonment, the need for love and safety and otherwise undetectable rhythms of understanding between a trusted adult and those in your care.

You are truly doing God’s work.

So why then, in the name of God’s work, would you ever relinquish this understanding, this connection, this crucial attunement, to instead base your year-long teaching plan on scoring taken from any standardized test? This is quite baffling to be completely honest.  

I have been privy to many discussions, seminars and keynotes led by researchers that, based on quantifiable evidence, reiterate how standardized tests fail to measure student success with any degree of accuracy or reliability. Unfortunately this argument fails to offer the simplicity of using the standardized test as one tool among many. It really doesn’t have to be so black and white.

What the researchers do say, is that data known as observable evidence is paramount in the world of data. This message is even heartily supported by EQAO’s Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Rodrigues. This observable evidence is born out of the ability to study and note actions and interactions during the everyday. There can be only one, pure procurement of this precious data and that my friends is where the classroom teacher comes in. The classroom teacher, that breathes the same air as her students, is the ultimate and decisive source of observable data.

OECTA has fought for and continues to fight for your professional judgment and here is what it truly boils down to for you: You are the only one truly qualified to assess your students’ success. To suggest that any singular test ought to direct your energies and efforts, belittles your training, your passion and most importantly to your professional judgment. It is but one tool among many that serve to support your God-given talents and passion for teaching.