How to Raise Reading and Writing Test Scores
As an English teacher who has recently resigned, I’m no expert, but here’s my plan to raise reading and writing tests scores in middle school and high school.
1. Do not require English teachers to attend any seminars, presentations, or meetings on how to increase reading and writing test scores.
2. Do not put the poor readers and writers all together in the same class.
3. Do not require English teachers to write reflections in which they analyze students’ scores on 45-minute writing assessments taken at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester and explain what they did to affect those scores.
4. Do not require English teachers to write the objective of the day’s lesson on the board before each class.
5. Do not, on the first professional development day after summer vacation, when the teachers are well rested, inspired and excited, have the superintendent present the district’s test scores from the previous year along with scores of other districts that did better.
6. Do not make students take practice tests.
7. Do not purchase an “artificial intelligence” computer service for students which provides writing prompts, gives students a score for their grammar, spelling, and punctuation, alerts you if they use the word “suicide” in their writing, and makes the average score of your students’ work available to administration to compare with other classes.
8. Do not, each year, require English teachers to write new curriculum, or new common final exams, or new rubrics for alternative assignments for students who do not meet goal on their standardized tests yet need to meet graduation requirements.
9. Do not make teachers look up the previous test scores of their current students to look for a pattern of which state curriculum standards the students did not master.
10. Cap English classes at twenty.
11. Establish independent reading for half an hour every Friday, with no assessments connected.
12. Have an online page for the school library where students can post reviews of their favorite books and comment on one another’s reviews.
13. Put big comfy chairs in the school library and make sure the library isn’t closed a block of each day because of a staff shortage.
14. Let the students pick at least one of the books the class will study as a whole group by discussing length, subject matter, age and gender of the protagonist, covers, or anything else they think matters.
15. Let students choose their own writing topics and genres to express their ideas.
16. Allow students to have water bottles in class and to leave for the bathroom when they need to go.
17. Invite journalists, novelists, screenplay writers, poets, public library librarians, human rights activists, artists, and storytellers to visit classes and compensate them for their time.
18. Eliminate standardized tests altogether.
With the enormous amount of time saved, teachers and students will be able to concentrate on true learning. Morale will sky-rocket. The test generating and scoring companies will go out of business. Vast amounts of money will be saved. Best of all, we will reclaim the dignity and enthusiasm that are the rights of every student and teacher.