It Depends On The Context
In the U. S. today, teachers are held accountable for student test scores.
To be accountable is to be responsible, to be the cause.
Maybe we need to rethink the cause of student test scores. Is the teacher solely responsible? Is this assumption helping to solve the problem? My 20-year career in public education has caused me to have concern about the effect of this assumption on the future of education.
- Does the seed cause the sprout? (A traditional question of Buddhism)
The seed AND the sun AND the water AND fertile soil cause a healthy sprout.
Is it fair or even logical to hold the seed solely responsible for the healthy sprout? The healthy sprout depends on the total context of the whole growing environment.
- Does the teacher cause the student’s test score? (A common question in U.S.)
The teacher AND the preschool history of the student AND the parental involvement in preschool and during school, AND the wealth and education of parents AND language spoken in the home AND learning opportunities provided to the student AND other factors such as health, diet, adult support.
In other words, no child arrives in the classroom “a blank slate.” Outside of the classroom, students have had and continue to have years of positive and/or negative experiences preparing them for learning in the classroom. Teachers and parents are not the only causes of student test scores. It takes a whole village to educate a child. One cause does not fit all.
Is it fair or even logical to hold the teacher solely responsible for student test scores? The student test score depends on the total context of the whole social, emotional and learning environment. A basic theme of my 30 Process of Illumination essays has been: Everything is connected to everything else in an unbroken wholeness. Test results are connected to everything else. Teachers are only one part of the unbroken wholeness.
Why is it that politicians, the educational community and the general public favor such unfair, illogical assertions about student test scores? When will we ever learn?