Jen Saarinen was thrust into a changing, tumultuous profession when she started teaching ten years ago.
“When I graduated from college, No Child Left Behind was just getting underway,” she said.
Saarinen is a math teacher at Kickemuit Middle School in Warren, and she spoke to RI Future about the many changes that she and her students have been inundated with over the past ten years.
“The major changes that have resulted in the classroom as a result of the state standardized tests have been more testing situations that our students are forced to go through,” she said. “We now track our students three times per year using NWEA for progress in addition to completing a “Common Assessment” per core subject at the end of each quarter.”
She voiced her concern by saying “The number of days that are spent on these tests, not to mention NECAP soon to be PARCC, we don’t truly have a full year to instruct the students to make this progress!”
While she does has her qualms about the proliferation of testing, Saarinen believes that some policy changes are a step in the right direction. One of these was the implementation of an evaluation model for teachers. “I do believe that there was a need to have an evaluation model for educators, however I do not feel that the one that Rhode Island is using is the most effective evaluation model,” said Saarinen. She went onto say, “Compound the demands of the educator evaluation and the assessments, many teachers are no longer in love with their profession.”
Some teachers have fallen out of love with their profession, and Saarinen has noticed a similar phenomenon in students. “I feel that my students don’t have the love of learning that they once had. I can’t imagine that the amount of testing/pre-testing/re-testing plays into this. Teachers have made jokes about their school name being changed to a ‘testing center.'”