What is high stakes testing? What does the 16-9 Movement have to do with high stakes testing? What is the role of a Christian educator during this time of evaluation? High stakes tests have become the norm across the nation in the last decade. SAT testing has been around for many decades, but federal and statewide mandates have touched every teacher and student with data driven decisions. High stakes testing refers to basing the results of testing on funding, grading and sometimes even passing to the next grade level. Is it any wonder that students and teachers are experiencing high levels of stress? The 16-9 Movement guidelines can help Christian teachers to be reminded of the high calling of our positions. I have often been asked about prayer in the classroom and one of the greatest proofs that there still is prayer is during high stakes testing. What Christian child, parent or teacher has not prayed for wisdom, guidance, peace and more during this season?
As a Christian in the public school, you must remind yourself always of the first “16” words of the First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The prayers you are praying for your students are private, not with the students. Praying in and around the testing area, sitting in the student desks and requesting specific prayers on behalf of the students is highly encouraged when the students are not present. Students are perfectly free to pray with each other in the halls, waiting areas, cafeteria, etc. as long as they do not interrupt instructional time. Most states have passed voluntary and even some mandatory “Moment of Silence” at the beginning of each day where students are free to pray or not to pray by choice. (This is a link to the individual state mandates.) A believer has incredible Power to rely on during this time of testing. Sometimes we just need a little reminder. No one who is Christian should go into such an important time without prayer and dependence upon the One Who created us. He will grant us a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Another very important part of high stakes testing for the Christian educator is our ability to exude the “9” Fruit of the Spirit. During a time of stress, a teacher who displays love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control and faithfulness will be contagious. It is our responsibility to be different and to be fragrant. During the testing period, I believe the “9” Fruit of the Spirit can be summarized by the word integrity. Testing materials, testing schedules, testing guidelines must all be handled with integrity. Nothing should be taken for granted and all guidelines should be followed. It is incredible to see teachers who have been trained in all the guidelines, close the door of their testing room and “do their own thing.” A Christian educator is held to the highest standards and must exemplify the high expectations of the testing requirements. Let’s encourage our students to do their best, leave their worries behind and enter this testing period knowing they are well prepared. The value of their being is not based on any single test, but by the One Who created them.
May God bless you and your students with peace and a contagious spirit of joy on your campuses over the next few weeks of high stakes testing. Ps. 143:1 - Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may Your Good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.