Wednesday in class, the group that I was assigned to talked a fair deal about standardize testing and its affect on us as teachers, as well as their effects on our students. States, New York included, have mandated statewide testing for students once they complete a certain grade level or in high school, the regents’ examination for particular courses. Though not mandated yet for music classes, it is forcing our colleagues to teach to the test and not teach to what will make our students better thinkers, questioners and well-rounded people.
I think that this in a way does affect the way we teach music. I feel that if other courses are forcing students to cram and force a lot of attention to tests, than they seem preoccupied with that upcoming exam. In a positive spin, I think it also helps our students; since there are no state tests for music, students can come into our rooms and ensembles and get away from the exams and be relaxed to play and learn about music, without the pressure of state exams.
Statewide exams take away some of the freedoms us as educators want and need in the classroom to teach our respective subjects to our students. Now, teachers are forced to “teach to the test”, skipping over topics that are important but may not be predominantly stressed. In the Brooks reading, I like how she states that problems emerge when “standards stop being guide posts for creativity and practice and become hurdles that we, educators, have to jump.” I could not agree with this statement more.
I think as a music educator I would have a chance to capitalize on this opportunity to make my classroom and ensemble a place for students to enjoy music without the fear that there is a statewide exam. If there is a statewide exam I would be interested to see how it would assess our students, mainly in high school groups. There are already assessments for high school music theory (a state “regents”, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams). In the lower grades and levels I think it would turn the music classroom into one of new learning and expression to their normal classroom, where what is being said is going to be on an exam. I would do my best to incorporate what is on the exam to what I would normally teach for that particular grade level. Without knowing what would be on the exam would be difficult in my opinion to base a classroom around the exam but I think it could be done in a constructive way to build upon ideas so that once they are done with the class they don’t loose the information I have taught them but retain it for the next years. I think it would be an unfortunate thing to do, but to be fair to other colleagues, they have to deal with it every year, but it would be interesting.