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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 5, March 2006

President’s message

I am in awe of the amazing teaching and learning that goes on in our classrooms in spite of the lack of support and all the pressures we face every day.

We need to start speaking out about the impact of the government’s "accountability agenda" on our teaching and our students’ learning. Teachers around the province are expressing their deepening worry about what we might call the "state of teaching and learning." Teachers are concerned that the government’s accountability agenda is killing the joy of teaching and learning.

Teaching is becoming a victim of narrow-focussed goals and over-emphasized standardized student assessment. There is an increasing emphasis on teaching to the test and achievement is being defined in very narrow terms. Teachers and students are motivated by creativity and the ability to do creative work in teaching is being dragged down by a rigid obsession with outcomes, standards, and testing. Our students do not need more testing—they need the resources to support their learning.

The recent AGM decisions advocate for a dramatic shift away from the accountability agenda and its emphasis on inappropriate testing and narrow achievement measures to one that focuses on providing the conditions for optimal teaching and learning. This means we carry on with our efforts to get firm commitments on class size and composition and that we also work to bring about changes that will put the joy back into teaching and learning.

We will be more vocal about our concerns with standardized testing. We will withdraw from participating in forming accountability contracts and school-growth plans, and we will withdraw from school planning councils. These are the essential elements of the accountability program and we will work with parents, trustees, and our communities to raise the awareness of how destructive these programs and policies are to the quality of learning and to the joy of teaching in BC schools.

Jinny Sims

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