Opinion Extra

How standardized testing ended my teaching career — and a lot of others

The emphasis on high-stakes testing helped drive Charlotte DiOrio out of the classroom.
The emphasis on high-stakes testing helped drive Charlotte DiOrio out of the classroom. AP

‘Standardized Test Scores.’

Those three words head the list of reasons teachers like me give up their dream of relishing those joyful, “I get it!” moments with students — when we open their minds to the knowledge and critical thinking so crucial to their success.

The “No Child Left Behind” preoccupation with such scores led to a “teaching to the test” academic sinkhole, dumbing-down an America too cheap to pay for competent teaching talent. Crushing paperwork, time-crunches, absurd curricula and unrealistic expectations only accelerate the resulting exodus of high-quality teachers.

George W. Bush’s witless test-and-punish program is not the only cause. “Libs and Lawyers” took away the proverbial whip, thus ceding classroom control to incorrigibles. (Ceiling-mounted, facial-recognition video automatically streamed to misbehaving kids’ parents would help.)

Add a litany of silly regulations, pointless meetings, worthless data collection, poor judgment (remember the seventh-grader suspended for doodling a stick figure of a rifleman?), chronic-complaining parents, and we get predictable results: Universities now remediate, rather than augment. Comedy shows street-interview college students for ignorance-entertainment. And private-schools siphoning off students exacerbates de facto resegregation.

Charlotte DiOrio

Why would any sane teacher stay?

That question took me to an emotional place far from my childhood dream of becoming a teacher, when I played school every afternoon with my stuffed animals and toy chalkboard. Far from my realization that there was never really a question of what I would do. And far from the pride I took in my love of children, my organizational skills and my ability to stimulate analytical thought.

I’m grateful that I still work with children, but in a less controlling setting.

Ms. DiOrio worked in Beaufort County School District from 1993 to 2016 and now works as an early interventionist for the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind coordinating services with local providers for children ages 0 to 3. Contact her at charlottediorio@gmail.com.