Reading the e-mail Tuesday night, I got scared. My principal had been informed by local and state testing officials that one of our students had been able to take a picture of the exam booklet and post the picture on Twitter. We are in a lot of hot water!

Immediately, I thought, “Oh my God! Was it me? Did one of my students do this?” The two other teachers and I tried so hard to be vigilant. We thought our students had behaved so well.

For hours I was struggling with the fear. What if it was me? What if this was my fault? What will happen to our school? My job? My career? My reputation?


Two days later, as I write this, I can’t help but wonder, why on Earth do I let myself get so worked up over this? I mean, I know how serious the folks in Sacramento take these exams, and, I appreciate their sincere desire to know how well my kids are learning. However, my all-too-rational fear that I might lose my job for failing to keep the test questions secret… My God! Is this what my profession, my calling, has devolved to?

I think about all of the effort I put into my craft and my kids each day. I think about all the time I spent over the weekend to translate history assignments into Vietnamese for my new student, Ngoc. I think about James, who just published about his experiences being a teacher for the day on ED Week Teacher. I think about all of the work that I do to give James, and my other students, the opportunity to sample my chosen career.

I forced to think that all of this, if weighed against the security of the state’s exam, comes up short. It seems to be that in the eyes of the educational officials in Sacramento, and DC, the entirety of what I do for my kids can be summed up by the number of correct answers on this test. That thought makes me sad.

Later this month, I take some time to dream big and share with you what I would love to see our nation’s educational officials do to satisfy their reasonable desire to see how well my students are learning.  It’s going to be just a fantasy, I know, because the next generation of exams are already here.  My school will be piloting some of them in May.

For now, I just hope and pray that the powers-that-be keep a cool head about the testing scandal at my school.  I would hate to see this lapse of security cause hundreds of students to lose their otherwise wonderful teachers and principal.

Share this post: