Michigan’s teacher of the year blasts standardized testing, says educators want more input on policy

By cori

DETROIT, MI -- Michigan's teacher of the year railed against standardized testing while emphasizing that teachers should be respected during a speech in front of a crowd of education and business sector officials Tuesday.

At the Governor's Education Summit and Governor's Economic Summit, held together for the first time at the Renaissance Center earlier this week, Melody Arabo won over the crowd with a rousing speech. Arabo is the 2014-15 Michigan teacher of the year and teaches third grade at Keith Elementary School in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District.

During her speech, Arabo gave a list of qualities that employers want from employees, nearly all of which were intrinsic human qualities and not facts that are taught in school. She said the private sector is telling educators that they want well-rounded people, but those in charge of education policy have yet to figure out how to measure those qualities.

"If these are our goals for kids, how do we measure them?" she asked. "How do we test qualities like human innovation on a multiple choice test? We can't. Do we even need to?"

She added that some students "don't do well on standardized tests because they don't have standardized minds. Why should any mind be standard?"

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan agreed with Arabo's assessment and said he worried that promising teachers will be driven away from the profesion.

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Flanagan's daughter is a teacher in the first years of her career and he said he has gotten calls from her asking what the decision makers in state government are thinking when new teacher evaluation processes are unveiled.