Our school is preparing for the state writing assessment that will occur next week. In doing so, we have provided an intense and rigorous training that is mandated for all school employees. Annually, as a staff, we review the legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly that outlines the repercussions and actions that may be taken by the state for violations of test security. To ensure that the guidelines are followed specifically our testing protocol includes mandatory meetings for the entire staff and orally reading the guidelines. Our meeting sessions are also audio-taped. All of these measures are taken to ensure that improprieties do not occur.
Each year, the staff members become anxious about what they are allowed to do and what may be perceived as a violation of testing protocol. They need reassurance that testing practices can in no way be questioned as long as they follow the specified test security guidelines. This increased level of precaution or “state of alert” as I like to call it, has become necessary in this age of high stakes testing and accountability. However, our teachers are left feeling as though their ethics and integrity are being questioned. The high level of security that is meant as a form of protection has become a form of intimidation. We all long for the days of yesteryear, when teaching and learning were about the educational advancement of students and not the safety and security of assessments. Where has it gone? And, when will it be back?