New York Principal Believes It’s Her Job to Shield Students, Teachers and Parents from Damage of High-Stakes Testing
You may remember Michael Winerip, the wonderful New York Times education writer who was taken off the education beat over a year ago and assigned to cover the boomer generation. Every once in awhile he finds a way to combine his new beat with the old one and cover middle aged educators. This is one of those mornings. What a gift!
In Testing, a Principal Leans on Her Experience is Winerip’s piece about the standardized test scores released in New York City this week. Winerip profiles Anna Allanbrook, a long-time educator who has led a high-achieving elementary school in Brooklyn for the past thirteen years.
During the the spring and summer of 2013, Allanbrook has calmed the fears of children, teachers and parents, fears growing from the administration last spring of New York’s new standardized tests based on the Common Core Standards and benchmarked far higher then tests in previous years.
Sure enough, the scores fell. Her school’s fourth grade students scored 94.9 percent proficient in math last year, but in fifth grade this year the same students scored only 25.6 percent proficient. Ms. Allanbrook had warned everybody this would happen with tests “too hard, too confusing and too long.”
Ms. Allenbrook has felt called to speak out about the injustice of the tests: “As a senior principal I feel a duty to speak honestly about what’s going on. By my age, my position is relatively safe; I feel like I’ve learned a lot and should express what younger principals and teachers are too scared to say.”
Ms. Allenbrook believes children thrive at the school because she has sought out excellent teachers. “As I’ve got older, I’ve become much better. It’s almost instinctual. It’s not about what university someone attended, it’s about passion and love for children. I’ve developed a set of questions over time and pick it up pretty quickly from how they talk about children.”