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Demoralization of Teachers Grows

There was a time when teachers were granted wide latitude in the classroom. But as a result of the accountability movement, which almost always involves standardized test scores, that freedom is gone ("Why Educators Leave the Profession," educationnews.com, Jul. 20).

A study of teachers who leave the profession by the Learning Policy Institute found that the loss of professional respect was the No. 1 reason.  (By comparison, compensation ranked 10th.)  I'm not at all surprised.  Teaching used to be fun.  But today, it is largely production work.  As a result, morale is negatively affected.

Teachers don't object to those who want to measure their impact on students.  That's why they have always administered tests.  They provide feedback about their effectiveness.  But high-stakes instruments are a different story.  They have a chilling effect on everyone.  When classrooms are turned into test-preparation factories, it's easy to see why attitudes about learning change.

What I fear is that we are winning the battle (higher test scores) but losing the war (educational quality).  It will be interesting to see what will happen when most schools in this country are finally privatized. I expect that high-stakes tests will virtually disappear in evaluating teachers and schools because in the final analysis I believe they are a Trojan horse.

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The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner's Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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