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Veteran teacher resigns over testing frustrations

Veteran Teacher Resigns Over Testing Frustrations

Susan Sluyter is a Massachusetts teacher who planned to work until retirement. Instead, she's decided to resign after teaching for more than 25 years, and her reasons might surprise you. The "Today" show explains.

'A Boston area teacher frustrated by what she says is too much emphasis on test scores and testing.''

Sluyter was a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher in the Cambridge Public School District. She sent her resignation letter to The Washington Post. In the letter, Sluyter says this is a "disturbing era."

'I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a teacher ought to do in the classroom.'

Not only that, but Sluyter says the emphasis on testing changes the feeling in the classroom.

'It takes the joy out of learning for the children and it takes the joy out of teaching.'

Sluyter tells The Washington Post she believes the "data fascinations" began with the No Child Left Behind Act. Education Week explains the reasoning behind the act.

'At the core of the No Child Left Behind Act were a number of measures designed to drive broad gains in student achievement and to hold states and schools more accountable for student progress.'

This accountability involves testing, which Sluyter believes limits the teachers.

'So many things that pulled me away from the classroom, and fractured my time with the children.'

Sluyter was emotional when she read her statement to the "Today" show, explaining she didn't feel she was the only one leaving.

'[I]feel now, that my job left me.'

Sluyter's school's superintendent, Jeffrey Young, tells the "Today" show, "In time we will find the right way to achieve that balance between strong academic instruction and high quality learning."

Join the discussion

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exceltempsstptr March 27 2014 at 12:44 PM

It isn't the teachers who are at fault, it is the parents and the kids themselves.
All kids have a natural inquisitiveness about them. They want to know.
But it takes time to understand what you just learned. So reading it, talking about it and listening to a teacher is not enough. The kids need to digest what they have learned, Not take a test immediately.
My sister teaches, and IS a good teacher. Good enough to receive Two(2) Congressional awards for her extra curricular accomplishments with her students. She detests the testing standards and the requirements that each state puts on the teachers.
Do most people's boss' tell them that they have to pay for most of their classroom items out of their own pockets? Or tell them they have to go back to school each year to receive more "updated" training for the next years methods of teaching and testing?
If you have a doctorate's degree why in the world would you need to be re-educated every year.
It is not the teachers fault, that kids these days don't want to learn. It is the parents and child custodians fault.
Bare bones.
It come down to the parents and custodians of children to impart what they have learned and to help the kids understand what they have learned in school. Extra testing is not the answer. Teachers should be allowed to set their cirriculum themselves. This usually makes it a more enjoyable learning experience, which will be retained in memory for years to come.
That is more important than the test scores of the local school district.

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indisposed99999 exceltempsstptr March 27 2014 at 12:46 PM

make you a deal: teachers can set their own curriculums, but they have to give up tenure, meaning principals can fire them for any reason whatsoever (the basic deal with all private employment).

Are you comfortable with that?

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rosebuds0718 indisposed99999 March 27 2014 at 12:50 PM

Absolutely!! And the good teachers- the ones who care enough to reply to this and are the ones that are most upset- would agree.

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houckie1965 March 27 2014 at 1:13 PM

The testing requirements have disregarded child development and howchildren learn. These tests required these days provide a result and no pretest to demonstrate individual student growth over a given period of time. Pretest at the start of the school year/semester/marking period/chapter and then pst test after instruction. That will show you how much a child has grown in achievement.

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indisposed99999 March 27 2014 at 1:16 PM

You obviously know nothing about teaching or little else for that matter. There is so much BS floating around by people like yourself that teachers don't have a chance to have their true stories heard.

So someone who works at an invetment bank has to buy suits - wow- I would agree they would need to keep their ugly bodies covered, but they make just a tad more than teachers

Most professionals have continuing education requirements. Better check your facts, with the possible exception of doctors (who make a tad more than teachers) that is generally NOT a true statement

The overwhelming majority of teachers have masters degrees - the question should be then - Why would someone with a masters degree have to be re-educated every year?

The fact that we rank 39th in the world in quality of education is definitely not due to teachers, but to the system run by nitwits and the failure of parents to really give a damn.

1. All lawyers have continuing education requirements imposed by their state bar. As do all accountants. And, FYI, those continuing education requirements are far more onerous than the ones imposed on teachers.

2. Bank tellers also have wardrobe requirements, and they make far less than teachers. The person's point is that teachers are asked to go out of pocket for their work. The reality is that so is everyone else.

What does make teachers different from bank tellers though is that teachers have a special break in the federal tax code that allows them a credit for the amounts they spend out of pocket. However, I didn't feel the need to point that out.

You started your post by noting that I was full of "BS". Yet, you didn't point out an example where I was actually full of it. Note: you tried, but you simply don't have the first clue what you are talking about when it comes to professional standards of other professions.

So, to review:

1. You start by saying someone doesn't know what they are talking about, but can't point to an example.

2. You then veer into envy about how much bankers make (I can only assume you aren't an economics teacher).

3. You then steer back to ignorance, by saying that lawyers and accountants don't have ongoing education standards.

4. You finish with a false equivalency. A master's is the lowest form of post-graduate degree. If MDs and JDs, i.e., DOCTORATE's, have ongoing education requirements, why shouldn't those with master's.

Would you care to start over again?

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pwaecc March 27 2014 at 1:19 PM

Sorry Susan! You are right we dont teach we stuff them for the tests!! What happened to developmentally appropriate???? Common Core-college ready-really in elementary schools? Yes, we need change but not this-try smaller class sizes try developmentally appropriate activities, try try try something besides ALL this testing!

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kate March 27 2014 at 1:21 PM

There isn't anything wrong with testing. It became an issue when, as time went by, an increasing amount of students failed the tests. Then they wanted to base teacher's raises on the test scores, which is ridiculous.

If you switch 2 good teachers between a wealthy suburban school and a poor ghetto school, the students won't switch test scores. And their attitude about the priority of education comes from home. That's why some poor kids do well, and get out of poverty.

Some children and adults aren't smart. What can we offer them besides college?

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1 reply
Hubert and Susan kate March 27 2014 at 1:36 PM

Tech and Trade schools, like they have in Europe, with internships...PS: not everyone can afford the good ole' boys club version of college.

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ronaldlgibbs March 27 2014 at 1:21 PM

To the Superintendent's point, while they are looking for the right balance between strong academic instruction and high quality learning, what happens to the millions of children in the meantime? Are we really simply teach our children to Tests rather than actually educating them? Ever since the Federal Government opted to take over public education, we continue to fall further and further behind in educating our children. Like everything else the Federal Government takes over they have made a bloody mess of our public education system and continue to do so. For the genius educators like the superintendent, when you are in a whole the best advice anyone can give you is to stop digging. Let teachers teach and the government needs to keep its nose out of the education system. Teachers, Parents and local school boards should be the catalyst for teaching our children.

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abanaszewski March 27 2014 at 1:26 PM

The federal government should have not control over local schools. They get away with it because we are overtaxed and then schools are bribed with badly needed money to conform with federal guidelines.

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Terri March 27 2014 at 1:32 PM

As a parent of a 6th grader, I, too, feel that the testing is excessive and non-relevant. This is not how kids learn, but there seems to be no end in sight for excessive testing.

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johnlynnek March 27 2014 at 1:33 PM


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1 reply
tangledweb1027 johnlynnek March 27 2014 at 1:48 PM

Knee jerk, knee jerk, knee jerk.

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Hubert and Susan March 27 2014 at 1:34 PM

this could explain the new mindless generation..

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