Let the March Madness Begin


March Madness isn’t just about basketball these days.  Today, March Madness is also associated with the controversial statewide testing that begins across the nation. And yes, the preparation for and the testing itself can be truly maddening for both teachers and students.

No one denies that data is a valuable component of instruction. We understand that assessment helps guide decision making. But somewhere along the line, testing became the end all be all of determining a student and a teacher’s value. 

And as we are accustomed to hearing about the anxiety created for students by the pressures of standardized testing, we overlook the fact that teachers are facing the same pressure and scrutiny.  In many states, teacher evaluations are heavily influenced by standardized test scores and this creates uncertainty about job renewal and compensation among other things.  The stress is real folks, I get it!

Not to disregard the seriousness of the issue, I would like to share a few tidbits on the matter.

1.       Remember this is just a test. One assessment does not determine your value as a teacher nor does it define a student. 

2.       Teach.  Not to a test. Teach to open minds. Foster the ability to think critically by challenging students to discover solutions by allowing them to fail. Be there when they do to guide them and prompt them to use the strategies you taught them. Be the teacher you went into the profession to be not the ‘teach to the test’ person that some have proposed you must be.  When you do this, the tests will reflect it and your students will be better prepared for the world they exist in.

3.       Let it go. As Disney’s Ice Princess Elsa says, “Let it go, let it go” Society is figuring out that these tests are overrated and that the United States is falling behind in education because of the overemphasis on testing.  I know it is easier said than done, but let it go, and have faith in who you are as a teacher.

4.       Have faith. Have faith in yourself and your students.  You became a teacher because you wanted to make a difference in the lives of your students. Have faith in your ability to do so.

desperate teacher and blackboard background Stop the madness!  The anxiety created by the current climate of testing is maddening.  We need to put things in perspective and turn March Madness back over to basketball, and release teachers and students from the testing madness the month currently inspires. Enjoy the real games, folks, and don’t get caught up in the testing game.


Barbra Thoeming Director of Education Strategy at Thrivist, LLC