WHY MAKE THIS FILM
The American public school system hangs in the balance. High-stakes testing has tipped the scales toward a culture of learning that favors standardization over inspiration. Schools are being closed, teachers are being fired, and curriculum is being stripped of depth and mastery of content. Meanwhile, students are denied a culture of learning that is needed for their social, emotional and intellectual growth.
Defies Measurement will expose the limitations of high-stakes testing and its damaging effects on our children, teachers, schools and society. It will inform parents, educators, politicians and the voting public how the high-stakes testing culture is affecting our public schools and interfering with the real work that needs to be done in classrooms. The story of the school where I began my teaching career will serve as the thread that weaves through the film and ties the larger issues together. Through interviews with former students, teachers and parents, we will learn how Chipman Middle School and its focus on brain compatible education changed the lives of the students, teachers and community. We will also see how Chipman has changed since the introduction of No Child Left Behind. Because the story of Chipman is similar to so many other stories of schools throughout the U.S., we will also hear from educators, politicians and experts in the fields of psychology, education, economics, mathematics, public policy, cognitive development and neuroscience, who will shed light on how high-stakes testing and its ripple effect is destroying our public schools.
Defies Measurement will explore:
- the sacrifices being made in schools across the county as a result of high-stakes testing.
- the Corporate Reform agenda and how it is affecting our public schools.
- how individuals, organizations and companies are capitalizing on the privatization of public schools and test-based assessments.
- the relationship between poverty and student performance.
- the role of testing in other countries and what's being done in the US to address the issue.
HOW THIS FILM GOT ITS ROOTS
As a middle school teacher of seven years, I witnessed the damaging effects of high-stakes testing on my students and the quality of education they were receiving. In the beginning of my teaching career, I was proud to teach in a school where teachers were encouraged to grow as educators and students were inspired to be life-long learners through empirical learning, hands-on learning projects, being there experiences, community building activities, and brain compatible curriculum . We (Chipman Middle School) were a model school for our dedication to the social, emotional and intellectual growth of our students and were visited frequently by educators from around the world. But, our test scores were low. As test scores do, they matched the socioeconomic status of our students and for that, the state threatened to take over the school if we didn't raise our scores in the following year. We were under tight surveillance and state representatives came through our school weekly. The mood of the school quickly changed from a creative, dynamic workplace inspiring life-long learners to a test-taking factory. Teachers were trained in test-taking strategies and money was put toward test prep materials. Community building activities, "being there experiences", "extra curricular activities" and subjects were all cut back to make room for learning test-taking strategies. The following year, our test scores went up, some teachers received $5,000, but our students graduated knowing less than the previous class and they missed out on quality, meaningful units of study.
It was at that point that No Child Left Behind was introduced and I left teaching.
This was over ten years ago.
Since then, the teachers and staff of Chipman struggled to preserve the culture we had worked so hard to create. But, as the years passed and the stakes grew higher and higher, teachers left, the school was closed and a charter reopened in its place. The story of Chipman Middle School and its demise is a typical story of what is happening to public schools across the country. The story about the people and organizations who are behind the demise of the public schools is a shocking one and it needs to be told.
Teaching in the public school system teaches one many things, but the ability to be resourceful with limited funding is one that will help me make every Kickstarter dollar count. Thank you so much for your consideration.
Risks and challenges
As with all best laid plans...one must be flexible and patient as challenges arise. Another skill that teachers develop in the classroom is the ability to quickly, creatively and effectively tackle an array of challenges that develop daily, hourly, actually, every minute...This ability to improvise and build a new path when the planned activity fails for one reason or another will serve me well as I face inevitable obstacles on the road to completing this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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