How Bailey Reimer’s kindergartners came to love testing

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Bailey Reimer

Bailey Reimer

“We have another math test today! It’s the last one,” I announce to my 30 kindergartners, who are still except for swinging legs that don’t touch the floor.

I hear groans. “Charles, what’s wrong?” I ask.

“But I love math tests!” he says. “I just want to keep showing what I know.”

As the class nods in agreement, I’m reminded of how much my kindergartners love tests. They love the uninterrupted work time and comparing their new score to their old one. They love the easier questions that give them confidence and the harder ones that give them a challenge. In my class, testing is one of the best tools to get students excited about how much they are learning.

In the dawning era of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which Congress just passed by a wide margin, we will still see federally-mandated yearly testing for grades 3 and up, and tests will still play a role in holding schools accountable. Many schools, like mine, opt to start preparing students as early as kindergarten. This way they can make sure that students and teachers take full advantage of the benefits of testing.

To get to a point where my students appreciate and understand testing, I had to first appreciate it myself. I love tests that give me relevant, timely information about how my students are doing, from how many letter names they know to how many words per minute they read. According to reports by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school.

With testing information in hand, I can plan lessons to the smallest detail — from which letter sounds students still need to learn to which students are having trouble answering questions about book characters, and why. If my students are to read proficiently by 3rd grade, and be on track for college, I have no time to waste.

Of course, 5-year-olds don’t come to school automatically loving testing. As educators, it’s our job to build that appreciation and understanding. First, we must teach students what to expect on tests and why they take them. In my class, I tell students that tests are “fun, serious and important” and that they give each student an opportunity to show teachers and the world how much they’ve learned.

Next, teachers can and should allow their youngest learners to practice for tests, but never with boring paper-and-pencil exercises. In my class, test prep means sitting on a rainbow rug in teams.  I read a sample question: “Which of these things could you find in a city? Hmm, let me think about the answers: a building, a barn or cows in a field.” Nearly every hand is swaying in the air.

“It’s a building!” Maria says confidently. “I know because I looked at the poster on the wall about the city and the country,” The rest of the class gives thumbs up to show they agree and we give Maria a special cheer. Score one point for her team — and also a point for building test-taking confidence and strategies.

Finally, teachers must find innovative ways to share test results with their students. The back wall of my room is covered in flowers. Every time a student meets a new benchmark (in this case a reading level), he or she peels off their flower and re-sticks it a level up. For a kindergartner, seeing the literal growth of their progress is all-important.

As our class’s flowers climb up the wall, my students are not just becoming better readers but they are more aware of and interested in their progress. As soon as students see other flowers starting to move up, the most frequently asked question in the room is, “Can we do my test yet?”

The Every Student Succeeds Act affirms the value of collecting test data as a way to look at student progress. As teachers, we have a chance to build a culture around testing that allows students to understand its value and the opportunities that come with it. That way, when it is time to announce an upcoming test, students can look like mine: smiles wide, fully attentive, delighted to show what they can do.

Bailey Reimer is a kindergarten teacher at Chicago’s CICS Basil Elementary and a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow. 

  • Marblemania

    Ah a Teach Plus teacher, so no early childhood background, no understanding of developmentally appropriate curriculum, no knowledge of authentic assessment, no appreciation for child centered learning. “They LOVE testing! We have to show them how great tests are!” Montessori is spinning in her grave and I’m weeping for five year olds everywhere. This isn’t teaching folks; this is drill and skill and so 19th century. Scabs as teachers. Parents, if you have a teacher like this, run for the hills.

    • Vikki Prince Rosich

      my kids did Montessori (taught by my sister-in-law) and I am so glad they did! Now that I have pulled them from being in school all day, we work on what they choose to get done (with a nudge from Mom) and they get to PLAY. As all kids should. not come home from 7.5 hrs of school, just to do more homework. (PS – Rush Revere just helped my 10 yr old tell me little stories about the American Revolution)

      • Vikki Prince Rosich

        right now they are setting to Apples to Apples Junior so we can work on vocabulary – and not from some listed picked by someone who has never met them.

  • No thx

    Garbage. This is what is most important for 5 year-olds? There is a difference between measurement and a culture of testing. Seems the author is a TFA alum – kool aid abounds.

  • No thx

    “Of course, 5-year-olds don’t come to school automatically loving testing. As educators, it’s our job to build that appreciation and understanding.”

    Actually, nope. This should not be your job.

  • Jinia Parker

    Author is Teach Plus & TFA…sums it up.

  • Concerned Parent

    If you came with this dribble to a parent run interview for a job in our school, we would run you out. Shame on you and on Teacher Plus.

    • Cynthia

      While I agree she shouldn’t come and dribble, she also probably shouldn’t come with this drivel either 😉

  • JDB249

    Such garbage. Go back to school and actually do the work to become a teacher. Perhaps then you’ll be appalled at this.

  • Em Singh

    What a sick sad word this is for children.

  • Graeson Harris-Young

    “5-year-olds don’t … [love] testing. As educators, it’s our job to build that…” Sure, THAT’s ‪education‬. That’s the job of educators. To get kids to love tests. Aw hell no.

    To be fair, yes, we should try to create and teach children to create value (thanks Makiguchi); that’s different than inculcating test-taking as valuable.

    And children “who are still except for swinging legs that don’t touch the floor” are children who need to move and have chairs that fit them. I know it’s meant to be an image of good, well-behaved children, and it makes me criiiinge.

  • Caitlin

    What in the actual hell is wrong with this woman? She obviously has ZERO interest in the well being and development of the students in her class, and no idea what early childhood education/education in general should be about…

    • Jinia Parker

      TFA & Teach Plus..not in for the kids

      • elteacher

        Seriously? Sounds like you haven’t meant very many of the teachers you’re insulting.

        • Emily Amanda

          Sadly we have. For the few years, well, months they can actually stick around. Then we are the folks who put these children’s lives back together when they bail -or teach them that they are equal to that number on a page. The comments you see here are from life-long educators, enraged at this edutourist with what, a handful of years at it, who is telling us to do something poisonous to children. I don’t even tell my AP students to “love the test.” I get them to out-think it, to be craftier than it, but to never wrap up their self-worth in a score. Because they are amazing human beings, and no test can possibly measure the fullness of their potential.

  • vsd

    How very sad for those young children in your classroom. You do realize that authentic learning exists outside the testing regime, don’t you? Let’s see how enthusiastic these children are about LEARNING, the true reason for education, in 3 years, when they are fed up with tests, school, and attempts to please misguided “teachers”.

  • alicemercer

    Build a culture around testing….
    NO, your job is to build a love of learning, an environment where students feel safe and can take risks. FIve year olds concerned with improving test scores won’t get that.

    • Elvis Veizi

      Did you read the article? Clearly, Bailey is taking a different approach to testing. Teaching young learners to become confident test takers is not mutually exclusive from building a love of learning or creating an environment where they feel safe. Without getting into a discussion regarding the merits of testing, we should recognize that they are an integral part of the educational process. By teaching her students how to become confident test takers earlier in their schooling, I’m sure Bailey is setting them up for success later in life .

      • Mitchell Robinson

        according to most of the research on this, I’m sure she’s not. accelerating the acquisition of reading skills into K and pre-K, for example, has not been shown to improve student learning in later years, or HS grad rates, or college success.

        so I’m pretty sure that Bailey is not setting them up for success later in life.

      • alicemercer

        Oh, I read the article. All the way through. My comment is based on my experience as an education professional with 15 years of experience, so I’m in the position to understand how completely ridiculous the ideas in this article and in your comments are.

      • Toni Becker

        Only in this alternate universe we live in today does harming innocent five-year-olds mean setting them up for success later in life.

      • Rosemary Martin

        She and all teachers should be refusing this common core and insane testing. Wake up and see what is happening in our schools, join a stop common core group.

  • Mitchell Robinson

    I’m embarrassed for this young woman, who has uncritically swallowed the reformer agenda, and is putting her students through an awful lot of dog and pony shows for absolutely nothing.

    “Of course, 5-year-olds don’t come to school automatically loving testing. As educators, it’s our job to build that appreciation and understanding.”

    It’s our job as teachers to help children develop a love for learning, not an appreciation for testing. What a horrible perversion of the true purpose of education.

    • chris moore

      I believe she was paid to swallow the reform agenda and then regurgitate it for us in the form of this blatantly paid for essay. It’s like a paid for articles in fashion magazine…they look like articles, they sound like articles but they are really just well crafted commercials…and this one isn’t even all that well crafted. We can tell it’s fake.

    • Jinia Parker

      Don’t feel embarrassed! The authors job and previous employment all point to this just being part of her job. Teach Plus and TFA. I think you are very kind Mitchell to give such a benefit of the doubt here!

    • Elvis Veizi

      Why should a love of learning be mutually exclusive from developing an appreciation and understanding of testing? Do we need to choose one or the other?

      • Mitchell Robinson

        that someone would seriously ask that question tells us how low the bar of expectations has sunk with respect to discourse on education. “an appreciation and understanding of testing” as an educational goal? for kindergarten students? who could possibly care about working to make this a goal?

        and for many children–and adults for that matter–testing is the thing that destroys the love of learning. suggesting that we wouldn’t choose learning over testing is simply absurd. only a corporate reformer or Pearson employee would even dream that one up.

      • Mitchell Robinson

        that sounds like a Teach for America talking point…

      • Mitchell Rubinstein

        Elvis, WE don’t need to chose one or the other. Ms. Reimer has. She never seems to mention or imply ANYTHING at all to indicate that a “love of learning” is of any importance in her teaching. Just testing, data, and measurement. I agree with Mr. Robinson. I pity this woman. But not as much as I pity her students.

  • Mick

    Congratulations on capitalizing on the natural desire of 5-year-olds to please adults and turning them into little numeric zombies. How beautifully soulless and unfulfilled they’ll be. Way to go, Teach!

  • Katie Osgood

    I am floored by this article. What this author is describing is nothing short of educational malpractice. But I don’t even blame the author herself. Unfortunately, there is an entire ideology pushed by Teach For America and many charter schools that normalizes this really twisted kind of teaching.

    No, kindergartners should not be taking these types of tests. No their “data” should not be displayed on a wall, in flower form or otherwise. No, it is not our job as teachers to prepare kids for the ridiculous testing mandates being imposed from above. This is developmentally inappropriate drivel. I am frightened for our young ones.

    Fight for kids to end the hyper-focus on testing. And let our little ones have their childhoods back.

  • JosieHolford

    It this a joke? Have I missed the intended satire?

  • Trisha Glover Beaty

    This is an absolute disgusting article. Shame on this terrible teacher! Please do the world a favor & resign from teaching! My children don’t want to come to school to be tested. Did this gal learn anything about early childhood development in college?! I couldn’t even finish reading this garbage! Puke!!

  • shocker

    As a parent, this just makes me sad. I am so glad my children will never be in this young woman’s class or any teacher like her. I can’t even bring myself to call her a teacher because real teachers know that the love of learning should be the real goal, and any testing in kindergarten should be neither important nor serious. Thank goodness for my children’s Montessori school. And why does kindergarten have to be competitive (flowers climbing the walls)? You could do the same thing to motivate the kids without making some children feel like they are behind for their peers to see.

  • Andrew Pfaff

    A piece like this is better suited to the Onion. I wish I’d read it in the Onion.

    • Wolf Krochmal

      Deadpan, right?

  • Chuck Jones

    “But I love math tests!” he says. “I just want to keep showing what I know.”

    This is what robots say. This is what the damned say.

    • tracy

      That comment sounded entirely fake in this article! I’ve taught for 18 years now, most of that kindergarten. That sounds ludicrous for a 5 and 6 year old to say!

  • MiriamP

    How horribly sad. Kindergarteners should be creating, building, drawing-knowing that buildings are in a city because they are making their own model buildings, knowing that cows are in a farm because they are playing with model farms. There is so much to learn, and so little time to create that joy in learning. Trying to teach kindergarteners to love tests is an Abomination. I also don’t blame the teacher, I only wish that she could experience REAL Kindergarten classrooms. This Pearson Propaganda is being drilled into the heads of all new teachers, and any teachers who come back for recertification. Try to find a master’s level text in a standard teacher certification program that ISN’T written by Pearson. Good Luck.

  • Michelle Sarabia

    Kids want adult approval. This has nothing to do with loving tests…. this is operant conditioning using the reinforcer of approval… and using it this way is indeed educational malpractice. These kids need to learn to love learning, to love communicating, to love exploring. They need to learn social skills. When they are 30, their indoctrination into producing test scores provides what, exactly, to their careers?

  • Gail Bryant

    I feel so sad for her students. To start their learning career with this young woman as their teacher? Well, it is just criminal. I would have NEVER hired her. Those poor babies.

  • Deb Gerry Herbage

    This is an all time low. This woman cannot be classified as a teacher and should not be “teaching” 5 year olds. If she were a real teacher she would understand true pedagogy and how children learn. The word “test” and “5 year olds” should NOT be used in the same sentence. She is clearly in unchartered waters and knows nothing about what is developmentally appropriate for children – especially 5 year olds. This is appalling but not shocking considering billionaires are buying and driving education policy in this country. This is overwhelmingly, colossally absurd but then again, I wouldn’t expect any less from a “rent-a-teacher” whose only requirement is pass a certificate based course. Shame on her for exploting children. Scab teacher. Here’s another acronym for you CCSS – Common Crap Sht@$ Standards”.

    • Julie Vassilatos

      Oh, she’s in chartered waters all right…….

  • Eliane Sainte-Marie

    So incredibly sad. How far off from what’s truly best for children can we possibly get.

  • Jessica Eitzen

    I was looking for some sign this was a satire site but alas didn’t find any. I pity your students.

  • Hombre Araña

    I would not have my child in her class or that school for that matter. I want her and the school administrators to be tested every week, on ALL the subject areas, not just math. I want them to sit still for 30 minutes or an hour at a time for EVERY test. Let’s see how they like it. Not a good idea is it? Kids are not robots.

  • Sandy Goodwick

    Bailey…. I’ve yet to meet a child enraptured with tests. Kindergarteners are thrilled over where they’re going next weekend and that they hate it when there’s no strawberry milk at lunch… but I would never EVER raise testing to the god-status you created. NEVER. I would NEVER make cutesy progress charts because (1) it cheapens intrinsic mastery via externalizing it, and (2) I don’t want kids whose progress is slower, due to disability or adversity, to feel stigmatized by an artificial test. … You describe an artificial classroom, where all children magically love tests and all are above average. I have no doubt that you are a good teacher, but must you sell out your children’s individual worth to the God of testing?

  • Mel

    Bailey, in the off chance that you’re reading these comments, I’m inviting you out for a cup of coffee. I too work with 5-year-old in Chicago, but in an environment where children aren’t expected to take formal tests until 3rd grade. Because my 5-year-olds don’t take tests they instead spend their time building circuits, constructing rockets, mixing paint, grappling with the complexities of human relationships, and working together towards common goals. It sounds as if you work in a very different sort of environment, and I imagine we could learn a lot from one another. Let’s talk about it over coffee some time. Message me.

  • Amy Bauer Gipe

    Poor woman actually has fooled herself into believing she is doing something good.

    It’s too bad she does not know more about the HUMANITY of children rather than treating them like sales associates in a competitive business model that is being phased out in successful, progressive companies.

  • xian

    Ms. Reimer, you sound like you are exceptional at fulfilling the vision of education that you’ve shaped with your mentors and the system you work in.

    I think a lot of people are attacking someone who has very adeptly adapted to the system that our society has built. I don’t blame you as an individual. This is the shame of our system that makes the philosophy you are pushing the prevailing wind.

    I simply would ask whether this is the philosophy of education that we want for our young people and our society. I don’t want students to receive this Strangelove or to Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Test.

    The data you refer to: reading ability and high school graduation is not linked to your method of pushing testing in the context of reading. Reading ability is linked to high school graduation, but there’s strong evidence that school persistence is linked to joyful reading and joyful education in general, not test-based non-contextualized reading skills.

    Also, it’s worth noting that school persistence should be a intrinsic goal that school adjusts to achieve with every student, including those with developmental disabilities that prevent literacy attainment.

    Finally, I think it’s worth asking given the history and present reality of testing whether it’s not the job of teachers to teach students to think critically about assessment and hate it when it’s inequitable, oppressive or racist.

    I hope that you can find some critical friends who challenge your educational philosophy while showing you the love and respect you need to grow–the same dynamic I would place far above “love of testing” in my feelings toward my students.

    • Katie Osgood

      Some needed disclosure for this comment: Xian has collaborated directly with Teach Plus, including leading sessions alongside fellows like this author. He also once worked for another Gates-funded astroturf teacher voice group called VIVA Teachers which serves a similar purpose as Teach Plus. Namely, these astroturf groups attempt to circumvent union participation and to indoctrinate young teachers into becoming cheerleaders for neoliberal education reform. They often target younger or early career teachers, especially teachers from Teach For America, charters, or AUSL schools. And clearly…the indoctrination process is working (sadly).

      For the record, this teacher’s participation in this twisted system is not forgiven, although I do hope she someday sees the err of her ways.

  • Christian Hoeffel

    Honestly, I wonder how much CICS and the testing cartel paid her to write this piece. I teach Kindergarten, and my heart breaks at how much we are forced to make them miss out on their childhood and drill them to death. This robo… I meane teacher does not represent the vast majority of teachers who wish to give their students a great education- not one that burns them out at 5 years of age.

  • Jill W.

    Said no teacher, parent, or kindergartener EVER.

  • Wolf Krochmal

    “In my class, testing is one of the best tools to get students excited about how much they are learning.”

    Hey. Profound. Nuance. If you are trying to get kids excited about “how much” they are learning, stay away from my kid. I want him excited about “what” he is learning.

    You must be “data-driven.”

    You’re naked.

  • Jenny Taylor Marshall

    I cannot simply fathom what kind of real life teacher examples she as been exposed to in her short career. It makes me sad that she is missing out on the best things that happen in public schools and that her students will never be exposed to the love of wonder, discovery and play that kindergarten was supposed to be. I hope she find out what she is missing before too many years go by. Her sudents deserve better.

  • Tug Brice

    Normally I never read the comments, because that way madness lies. The irony when the comments are sane and the article is madness is astounding. Thank God for the sane people who are speaking up against this insanity

  • Denise Concidine Funfsinn

    As a teacher of preschoolers with developmental delays, I was irritated by the initial paragraph. A classroom setting of 30 children who are sitting in chairs that are too tall for their bodies. Try working for any period of time without the stable grounding of feet on the floor. Further, 5 and 6 year old children love to learn through exploration and play, not testing. I would never want to teach in a classroom designed this way, nor would I want any children in such a program.

    • BridgetD

      This struck me as well. I’m still in school and haven’t even started my student teaching yet, but I did work study for a short period of time in a local preschool classroom (most from low income households, but of normal development). I can’t even imagine a kindergarten classroom with 30 students to one teacher. Of course, that’s the least of my scruples with how this teacher runs her classroom.

    • Christine Langhoff

      Yes! My kids were in an elementary school which was to transition gradually to a K1-8 school. At a meeting to talk about what was necessary for the change over, I asked the principal if the district was going to provide larger desks and chairs. I taught middle school for 14 years and knew how much kids can grow over summer vacation. I will never forget that she responded she hadn’t requested larger furniture because the kids would just have to squeeze in to whatever was available. Recipe for disaster.

  • RyanGrant

    It’s only 7:00 a.m. here in Spokane, and I still think this will be the dumbest load of crap that I read all day.

  • Cynthia

    I”m just going to leave this here:
    “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern
    methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy
    curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from
    stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to
    wrack and ruin without fail.” — Albert Einstein*

    *With the caveat that I haven’t verified this quote — the Internets loves to misattribute.

  • Rick Archer

    A teacher’s job is to spark the love of learning, not testing. I feel sorry for so many young teachers. They have been brainwashed to believe that data is always truthful and is the only way to show where a child stands academically. Qualitative data trumps quantitative data in teaching.

  • Compassrose

    Scary that these babies are being indoctrinated to think a test is a true gauge of their learning. They will be happy little robots that will regurgitate specific information for a test while true learning is left unexplored. Seriously doubt the people that create these classroom would ever want their child in such a setting – drilling and practicing for tests. Can’t we let kids get through kindergarten before we assume they aren’t going to college? And 30 kindergarten students in a single class – ridiculous. Money for test but not for appropriately sized classes.

  • Fr. Makarios

    How much was she paid by Gates Foundation to write this piece of junk. Let’s ask the parents and the kids how they feel.

  • Bill Adamsky

    Holy hell, who is paying you to spout this nonsense? If you feel your job is to get five-year-olds to love testing, you need to find another job.

  • Chris Melt

    Heaven help our youngest students. Every single thing we know about child development is being trashed.
    This is truly twisted.

  • Peachy

    I thought this was an Onion piece.

  • Marla Kilfoyle

    I DO NOT believe one thing in this article (I honestly thought it was a joke). I have been a teacher for 29 years in public school and have had maybe 1 child say they love testing (and I teach high school). If you had written a piece on how kinders love painting, or singing, or music, or fun games you would have had me but the fact that our children should LOVE testing? Uh, NO!

  • Is this article satire?

  • Sarah

    Could someone at The Catalyst explain why they published this article?

    • Katie Osgood

      Catalyst has a partnership with Teach Plus. They run pieces by the T+ Policy fellows pretty regularly. Most of them are pretty awful, though I’ve never seen one at this level of absurdity. It’s one of the activities Teach Plus pushes its fellows to pursue, namely to make it look like a majority of teachers support this neoliberal education reform garbage. Luckily, we are in Chicago where tens of thousands of CTU members have made it dead clear that teachers support real reform!

  • UpsetWithCT

    OK…Ms. Reimer…the gig is up. Can you now admit that you’re a writer for The Onion, and that this is a satire piece you’re testing out?

    If not, it goes to show why programs like TFA and whatever “Teach Plus” is are complete jokes. You might be better off stepping out of the classroom and using whatever is left in your trust fund to travel the world.

  • Surely you jest?

  • Emily Amanda

    I am so thrilled that you are nowhere near my 5yr old son or his public school classmates who have 0 testing and experience recess 3x a day and art, music, PE, library, and life skills once a week. I’m even more overjoyed that you are simply an educational tourist and plan on leaving the classroom soon. I hope and pray that someone with a joy for learning and a love for children takes your place. I feel so badly for your current students; you don’t even get it. Testing isn’t a life skill, and the charter school grads (the very very few there are) haven’t been going anywhere impressive and they themselves are clear that they don’t have the skills of their public school counterparts. I pity your students and you. Please move on and go consult or write your memoir soon. LSAT? Anything.

  • Maryellen Dundon

    As a teacher it is NOT your job to build an appreciation and understanding of tests to children, especially 5 year olds! Nobody cares if you love math! You need to learn to love your children and how to teach them!

  • NBCT Vet

    This piece is provocatively titled – no surprise there, it attracts attention – but I think the children are indeed showing that they want to please the adults in their lives, love to learn, and desire to explore and even think about and feel proud of their educational progress. Those are good things.

    Of course, along with so many contributors to this comment section, I am horrified that the primary way for children to express this natural and important enthusiasm and educational joy is through examinations and the especially offensive public announcement of those test results.

    Despite the inappropriate techniques and problematic culture, apparent absence of crucial interactive and interpersonal development, and such a heavy emphasis on predictable, neoliberal-laced paternalist obedience, I’m not willing to be so hard on Ms Reimer.

    Ms Reimer is quite possibly attempting, at least, to engage in a portion of the important work of an effective teacher: routine and ongoing assessment, metacognition or an awareness of student learning styles and outcomes, regular communication of student successes and failures, routines that build confidence through step by step progression. Though there is, of course, so much more to complex task of early childhood education. we should not be surprised by Ms Reimer.

    She spent five weeks training to become a teacher through Teach for America. I would be surprised if the description of Ms Reimer’s classroom did not fly in the face of every bit of early childhood research most of us have ever read. Ignoring the destructive ideology of TFA, five weeks time is woefully inadequate training for any major professional undertaking.

    There is in place a highly functional, well financed corporate system that puts teachers just like Ms Reimer into the classrooms of poor black and brown children – and not, generally, white and/or middle class or upper income communities. There are reasons for that which I am sure I do not need to explain. (Though I would love to hear from Ms Reimer or another TFA alum why poor black and children should be treated so differently from the more affluent and privileged among us.)

    I wish that Ms Reimer could and would recognize the error of her ways, but that’s not likely. Ironically enough, the children stuck in Ms Reimer’s classroom will end up like her – unable to think critically enough to resist the education reform/deform juggernaut that is corrupting and destroying healthy, whole-child, research-supported models of education through deliberate systemic distortions.

  • Timothy Braun

    Oh, young lady, please don’t drink and drive. This essay is miles beyond irresponsible.

    • Moogg

      Timothy Bruan LOL, love it!

  • CarolineSF

    Amusing satire!

  • scrapiron5

    I apologize on behalf of all real teachers to any parents who might happen upon this article. This woman’s views in no way reflect those of actual professional educators. You can rest assured that, unless your children are in the kind of charter school Bailey teaches at, your teachers are not screwing with your 5-year-old’s mind in this way.

    Of course, if your kids are being taught by someone who has no idea what they are doing because they have not been trained in the field and are being directed by a charter school CEO whose only interest is boosting test scores for marketing purposes, then you may well have cause for concern.

    • Concerned Educator 2

      As a former colleague of the author, I can tell you that this is exactly what is going on.

  • westello

    “But I love math tests!” he says. “I just want to keep showing what I know.”

    Complete BS. That kid didn’t say that.

  • Emily Amanda

    My comment about how I would not want my child in this “teacher’s” class was deleted. Wow. So much for free press. Good to know what news outlets are completely owned. I’m glad that my kindergartner is seen as more than a test score. That he gets art, music, library, life-skills, gym, once a week, and recess three times a day, and has yet to take a single test. That is right, his teacher somehow has figured out his strengths and weaknesses and he also knows them, just with their senses. Not in competition, not through public flower shaming, but through conversations and human interaction. You know, life skills. Which unlike test taking, will take him and his public school counterparts far in life. Again, I hope that the author moves on to another field, those of us who are lifelong educators don’t need edu-tourists telling us how to get the job done. My public student’s AP test scores are fantastic, but they are more to me than a test score and they know it, they show it by coming back in droves to see me 15+yrs later. Who will ever remember someone who got them to get a higher test score? You can save the situation, help them to love to read, to love to ask questions. Those are life long skills. Otherwise you are just teaching them to be happy in their cages.

    • Timothy Braun

      And yet, my comment about how she should not drink and drive is still there. Goodness.

  • Wendy Johnson

    Bailey, your Kinder-kids love you, not the BS test. That’s how Kindergarteners work, they try to please the significant grown-ups in their lives. If you were going to stick around in the classroom, which I guess you’re not, since you’re TFA, you’d get a chance to work with older grades, and you’d see the effects of the kind of extrensic motivations you’re teaching your kids: At a certain point, they start caring more about their peers than they do about you, and unless someone’s taught them to love learning for its own sake, all wall-charts and teacher-cheerleading in the world aren’t going to make a dime’s worth of difference.

  • John Rennhack

    Did I miss it, because I’d like to know how her 5 year old students feel when that next test grade is lower than the last. Is there a joy in testing when they do poorly?
    And how about when their flowers aren’t moving up? And when other students notice and comment about it? How is setting up 5 year olds for public humiliation a good thing?
    Scratch the surface of this rainbows and unicorns testing propaganda and it’s probably not so wonderful for emerging learners.

  • Emily Amanda

    Hi, just posting this again because it was deleted. I am so thrilled that you are nowhere near my 5yr old son or his public school classmates who have 0 testing and experience recess 3x a day and art, music, PE, library, and life skills once a week. I’m even more overjoyed that you are simply an educational tourist and plan on leaving the classroom soon. I hope and pray that someone with a joy for learning and a love for children takes your place. I feel so badly for your current students; you don’t even get it. Testing isn’t a life skill, and the charter school grads (the very very few there are) haven’t been going anywhere impressive and they themselves are clear that they don’t have the skills of their public school counterparts.

    • Emily Amanda

      I checked out your LinkedIn and that is how I discovered that you are only planning on teaching briefly. Good luck with all future endeavors Bailey! May they be far from small impressionable children or may change your tune and learn to listen to them and lifelong educators and stop this horrible terrible no good cycle that you are perpetuating. Testing is not a life skill. Learning to love to question, learning to love reading, art, movement, discussion, these are the skills of kindergarten. Please change your tune. We don’t need test-takers, we need good people.

      • Monty Neill

        She may well go to work in the policy arena. DC, for example, is full of Congressional aides who came thru TFA, taught for a couple years, and are now ‘experts.’

  • 3rdmilleniumteacher

    Ugh! Really? How I convinced them it was good to go down in the mines, to clean out the chimneys, How I was convinced them it was good to stay home and iron clothes, to be locked in the factory, how I convinced them they should cover themselves completely, how I …. and it goes on and on and on. And you smile in the promo shot. Sad.

  • LY

    I am the parent of a 2nd grader. I would never, ever in a million years want this woman to be my daughter’s teacher. I want my child to enjoy actual READING, not moving her sticker up a wall! The hyper-competitive atmosphere this woman is fostering among kindergarteners works directly against a love of reading and learning. My daughter’s wonderful kindergarten teachers never needed to give her standardized tests to know how her reading or comprehension were progressing! Ms. Reimer seems to have very little understanding of young children. She looks quite young — I predict that in the not-too-distant future, she will be embarrassed that she ever wrote this column.

  • BridgetD

    Although the article has some click-bait qualities to it (she does note within the article that she does not use pencil-and-paper exercises to assess her kids, though the title would imply otherwise), this is still a disturbing concept.

    It’s my opinion that our kids shouldn’t have to learn to like tests, which (in my experience) are really only good for encouraging the temporary absorption and regurgitation of a narrow amount of subject matter. Most of us neither need nor want a testing culture. Truly, what is such a thing good for? Despite what proponents of high stakes testing claim, I’ve seen little evidence that they accurately show either teacher effectiveness or student mastery at all. All the while, we have 5 and 6 year old kids whose natural tendency to learn through play and exploration is sacrificed so that they can learn to sit down and take a test.

    As for this teacher, she may not have her children sit down with a pencil and a scantron as they would with the older grades, but the way she talks about her classroom is unnerving to me. It doesn’t seem like these kids aren’t being encouraged to think critically and for themselves. It doesn’t seem like they’re being taught the real value of learning beyond the classroom. Practically speaking, 30 students to one teacher is not ideal (it’s not even an efficient student-teacher ratio for older grades), though admittedly that is not her fault. She’s fooling herself if she thinks that most kindergartners enjoy uninterrupted work time. Finally, and I may be a bit nitpicky with this last one, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of posting each student’s progress for all to see.

  • Ari

    The claims of “growth” Bailey makes on her LinkedIn page are Rhee-worthy.

  • Denis Ian

    “If my students are to read proficiently by 3rd grade, and be on track for college, I have no time to waste.”
    But it’s okay to waste childhood? … to make testing their new religion? … the new end all, be all of education? Does that sound wholesome to anyone?
    Please tell me you’re not whispering this college-ready stuff all day long. They’re five. Five years old. About sixty-something months old.
    They have no idea what college is … nor do they care. They’ should be nuts about the monkey bars the see outside the window … not the prospect of being a college-ready something.

    “Every time a student meets a new benchmark (in this case a reading level), he or she peels off their flower and re-sticks it a level up.”
    Can I enquire about the wilting students? The ones not climbing the wall so quickly? How do their little vines feel stuck so close to earth while their buddies and budettes soar to the sun? Have you ever studied their faces? Ever looked behind their eyes? Ever asked them how testing feels when it results in bruise after bruise? I think it’s a good idea to do that. A lot.

    “That way, when it is time to announce an upcoming test, students can look like mine: smiles wide, fully attentive, delighted to show what they can do.
    This gives me absolute chills because, well, it reminds of preludes to horror I’ve seen in history. Nodding heads and practiced smiling faces … not yet really old enough to question what the hell is going on, BUT well studied in group think.
    If you think test performance is the goal of education, why not find a way to wire these little robots and simply have them plugged into some learning electrodes … there seems little need to enjoy the process when the results will simply be sufficient.

    Miss Bailey, education is all about discovery and creativity. It’s not about conformity and group-mania. It isn’t a race against pals … or even one’s self. It’s the result of an environment that offers and encourages investigation and inquisitiveness … and it’s not about regurgitation. It’s about having the brain grow at a natural speed … so that every layer of the foundation properly sets and the next level finds a sturdy base.
    It’s about risks and risky options … and, please sit for this one … it’s about the absolute right to fail. In fact, schools were established as failing centers … so that, over time, energetic thinkers wouldn’t find their unusual ideas hammered down … and become identical to the others in the classroom. That’s how brilliance is born … and nurtured. It’s what makes us all unique … because we all hear the dance music differently. Please stop putting kids in lines and rows and charts …. like pegs. They’re not pegs. They’re 65 or 70 month old bundles of whatever. Think of them as stunning surprises for a change … and enjoy the trip they take YOU on … rather than the trip YOU take them on.

    I have this uneasy sensation that your classroom is humming like a factory … which pretty much seems to be the very essential result of the new standards and the new philosophy and the new reform. I can see why you’re a smiley sort … you’ve made the state educates smile. Oooops! Did I say state? I apologize. But, at least I didn’t say a thing about the brown shirts. They don’t wear brown shirts, do they?

  • Laurie M Howard

    I cannot believe that a teacher would WANT to prep children for standardized tests. You are saying that you’re not capable of accurately doing your job! Your education has provided you with all the necessary skills to evaluate and score a student’s achievement. You do not need to test prep with partners. This is based on a wide belief that U.S. students are not being taught properly and that educators have short-changed our country because our students were listed near the bottom of a raw data table chart published by the OECD. Just to inform everyone, in 2013 the OECD concluded that a high poverty rate is the most influential determinant of PISA test scores. Who has one of the top five child poverty rates? The U.S. with 22-25%. Our educators have been out-producing entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors, innovators, etc. compared to other countries around the world for a long, long time. The U.S. is the top winner of truly global academic awards (Nobel Prize and many others). China, who in the past few years has been heralded as the country that can’t be beat on PISA scores, has the highest number of students here on visas to study in our universities. Also, in China they do not educate their migrant children (the poor). It is a system which affects about 6 million children and has been condemned by human-rights activists around the world. Do not believe for one second that the U.S. is subpar because of its teachers or our standards. It is the leadership who fails to address child poverty that has caused this problem. STOP HIGH STAKES TESTING!

  • Toni Becker

    Criiiiiiiinge!!! Earth to Bailey! You are the poster child for the re-education taking place today. You are a Stepford teacher’s Stepford teacher. I get that if you give a teacher a lemon, she’ll make tasty lemonade, but we are past the time for putting up with this crap from teachers. SNAP OUT OF IT!!! Lady, you are a vacant shell programmed to spew this madness and a danger to the children in your charge. Parents who hand their children over to this snare are equally insane. This is genuinely terrifying.

  • Cheryl L

    Someone should do a 30-year study of every child in her class to see how many end up with depression, sucidal, homeless. These children need to be able to re-examine their childhood one day and remember playing games outside with their friends, successfully crossing the monkey bars, swinging so high they can see the top of the trees. They need to be coloring with their best friend or building a block house, while they talk about what the clouds in the sky look like. They need to fall down occasionally, skin their knees, and have a loving adult, and even a few friends, rush to them with a hug and an encouraging word, and they need the opportunity to learn to do the same for their friends. Instead, they will remember moving a plastic flower up the wall, and most of them will remember that their flower was never at the top–even once. It’s easy to mold children into little drones who love testing, if you get them before they know that life is about much more than that. But, when they get older they will realize that their teacher robbed them of a sweet childhood that can never be recreated, and they won’t have fond memories that can sustain them when their adult lives are stalled or going in the wrong direction. And don’t say that this teacher might be doing that in addition to teaching them to test, because very few, if any, children would “love” testing if they had ever tasted an hour of free play with their friends, without a teacher directing their every move. Every single parent of those children should look closely, not at what the education community needs, but at what their child needs, then either insist that their child be given the opportunity to have an enriching childhood, or they should withdraw their child and give them that themselves, at home. Anything less is emotional abuse, even if you don’t see the damage for 20 more years.

  • LibbyJ

    If you need to rely on tests to assess kindergartners’ learning, then you are a poor teacher and know little about developmentally appropriate practice. Real teachers assess learning countless times a day, through meaningful interactions with students. That is how learning happens.

  • cindy

    Someone drank the Kool-Aide.

  • Lori Silveira

    The Test Whisperer.

  • Concerned Parent

    While we criticize this young lady, and I hope she really
    reflects deeply about her future career whatever it may be; we have forgotten
    of the charter that promotes the super-testing environment she is in. Since she
    comes from a non-allowance of creativity or learning through exploration, she
    has to drink the kool-aid as it is in the charter school water.

  • Concerned Parent

    We cannot blame this young lady completely. She is in a charter school who has no other water but this testing kool-aid.

  • Debi Donahue

    Thank God my child never had a teacher like this one. She is in sixth grade and actually loves to learn.
    You are not a teacher. Please for the sake of the children either find out what a teacher is or leave the profession. You are everything that is wrong with education.

  • SDLR

    Oh Bailey… maybe you should find another profession. Because you obviously don’t understand how the mind of a 5 year old works. Add to that the fact that you are patting yourself on the back because you THINK you are doing a wonderful job. Children at that age shouldn’t be taking achievement tests – they should be exploring through play.

  • Megan

    This is horrible. How can you sleep at night knowing what you are doing to these young, impressionable children? Do their parents know about this? I’m appalled.

    NO, children do NOT need to learn to love tests. They need to learn to love LEARNING! Good teachers don’t even need tests in order to know how their children are doing. This makes me sick.

  • Mitchell Rubinstein

    The “Teacher” profiled in this story, Bailey Reimer is deeply and
    truly frightening. Not just for what she is doing, but for what she is
    thinking. Her goals, aspirations for her students are SO misdirected, so
    limiting, so stultifying. She isn’t teaching them, she is training them. She doesn’t even realize there is a difference. Ms. Reimer thinks her job is to cram her kids’ heads full of “stuff”.
    The more she crams in, the better the test scores will be, and the
    “better” she is teaching.
    Fortunately, there are STILL many teachers out there who understand that to teach, you need to connect with your students as individuals, inspire them to learn, allow them to think, respect their individuality; not cram them all into the same tiny, standardized box and hope they fit.

  • Moogg

    BOTCHED, this entire article is nothing short of BOTCHED, right along with the BOTCHED ESSA Act 2015 which was passed while the rest of the US taxpayers were enjoying the holiday break – Big Gov continues to try to sneak past the US taxpayer, but guess, we are paying attention, signing petitions (which were obviously ignored by our Elected Officials! BOTCHED – the US Education system is broken, has been broken and HIGH STAKES TESTING is not going to fix the problem -it will only line the pockets of the testing and tutoring private sectors. VOTE America! Let’s get the right people voted in – the ones who listen to the taxpaying public!

  • Bill Ivey


    First, I want to say that you seem to have one of the key elements of teaching down: building a strong relationship with your kids. That’s not something every young teacher can pull off, and would be much to your credit.

    I work with middle and high school kids, but my understanding is that research on early childhood education stresses the importance of play, and that too early a focus on testing can be detrimental to young children’s development. There are so many ways to informally assess them besides testing, and the data you get from sitting and talking with them for a couple of minutes, or watching them interact with a friend, or noting their thought process if a block tower falls over, can be at least as useful as results from a test, often more so. If they love you as they seem to, you are already well positioned to make good use of this technique.

    Finally, as a 31-year veteran of teaching (35 if you count my grad school TA-ship years and an exchange position abroad), may I apologize on behalf of my profession for the way you have been treated in many of these comments and subsequent discussions. We may or may not ever agree completely on teaching techniques, but hopefully we can all agree that people deserve to be treated with dignity.

    With all best wishes!

  • Moogg

    to spoil by poor work; bungle (often followed by up): The US DOE botched up the job thoroughly.
    to do or say in a bungling manner. CLLS!
    to patch in a clumsy manner. Arnie Duncan!
    a clumsy or poor piece of work; mess; bungle:
    a clumsily added part or patch.
    a disorderly or confused combination; conglomeration. – THE CONGLOMERATION BEING “ALEC” (who bypass lobbying for the favor the private sector). AS WELL AS THE 1%’ers, GATES, THE WALTON’S = TAKEOVER OF US PUBLIC ED TO LINE THE POCKETS OF PRIVATE INDUSTRY. America, do you research before you drink this Koolaid!

  • TFors

    All you are teaching your kids is a sense of conforming… as long as they answer and behave the same way as all the other kids then they get rewarded. What topics are being introduced to your kids? Does your curriculum explore ideas wherein there may be different opinions that are just as right, or do the kids only get to be right if their answer conforms to the ideas being promoted in the curriculum? Where is the introduction to critical thinking and the idea that there is not always just one right answer? Tracking words per minute does nothing for helping with comprehension. Teaching children to love taking tests is not teaching them to love learning. Do you even have any children of your own? Do you really understand what it is like to see a child’s whole inner being light up when they get to explore their world and understand more than what it means to have an appreciation for life and learning through something besides a paper flower on a wall?

  • bill coleman

    I admit to having no credentials in public education, but I believe that between the teacher and the state Supt. of education, there is or should be enough motivation and expertise to find and follow the right or a right approach to both learning and testing without having the unconstutional and sometimes unwise forced input of the federal government in the education of children which is and should be solely the responsibility and choice of parents unless proven otherwise via due process on a case by case basis. Abolish the U.S. Dept. of Education …. by constitutional amendment if necessary.

  • PWB

    Wow this method of teaching Kindergartners is so wrong, especially the public display of testing progress. What about the children who have learning disabilities that haven’t yet been diagnosed preventing their flower from rising high on the class wall? You are crushing their spirits before they even enter first grade. And those who are naturally bright, or have had support at home, or have been held back, those must be your “smart” children with flowers high up on the wall. Or leaders on the winning team. Shame on you.

  • elteacher

    To all those insulting and shaming her: have you met her? Have you seen her teach? I have, by the way, and she’s pretty great. I know that most of us work in a pretty horrible environment for early childhood teaching and learning. You could argue that we should all just be advocating for something better. Guess what? Many of us do that while doing what we have to do to keep our jobs AND meet the needs of our little ones. This seems like her attempt to make the best of it. You disagree with it? Great. Try using more productive language to share your opinion. My kindergarteners know better.

    • Timothy Braun

      If you know this person, and if you care about her since you have commented, you have a responsibility to get her help. This “blog” is beyond sick. This woman is either delusional, has a substance abuse issues, or is just a puppet.

    • Katie Osgood

      Teachers are increasingly put between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the ridiculous mandates that dictate our professional lives. That being said, it does not excuse teachers who have “drunk the Koolaid” and embraced the lies of neoliberal edreform even as it harms children. It seems, based on this piece, that this author has embraced that ideology which hurts kids. And that is not OK.

      Many charters, including some CICS schools, have begun to fight back by forming a union and advocating for our jobs, our professionalism, and for what our students’ need. I hope that someday Ms. Reimer would join that fight and the broader battle being waged across this city to protect kids from this nonsense instead of tricking them into accepting it.

  • Jenr44

    Why does Catalyst continue to print articles and pieces that support the teach-to-test movement? Really, Catalyst? This is almost as bad as the “Charter schools are great!” piece from last month….

    • Katie Osgood

      The problem is that Catalyst has a partnership with Teach Plus, the Gates-funded astroturf faux “teacher voice” group that exists to make it seem like teachers support the neoliberal edreform agenda. When you gather people who disproportionately come from TFA, charters, AUSL, and have twisted ideas like the writer above, you can make it look like teachers support these horrible ideas. In fact, Rahm’s office uses reports put out by Teach Plus to argue that teachers support him. Ridiculous!

      Catalyst wants to appear “neutral” in the edreform battle. Unfortunately, that somehow translates to giving equal space to paid ideologues and PR puff pieces as to actual news and facts. If Catalyst only reported the facts out there, they would look sympathetic to the union and other pro-public education fighters as the other side is pushing insanely harmful and anti-common sense “reform”. You don’t need to a degree in education or even experience in the classroom to understand that what people like Ms. Reimer and her edreform backers are selling is wrong for kids.

  • Rosemary Martin

    Making good little communists.

  • Concerned Educator 2

    I am a former colleague of the author. She is a good, caring person and an excellent teacher. However, she works in an environment that is absolutely dominated by Teach for America and worships the “testing, testing and more testing” mindset. Teachers use a canned curriculum and cannot innovate in any way whatsoever. The school has a dean (yes. A dean) where kindergarteners are sent for not adhering to dress code. It is very much an Orwellian environment. I was horrified and left after less than a year, and many teachers leave after a very short time as well. The children are orderly and silent – a rarity in the heart of the inner city, where this school is located – but there is no joy except in moments stolen from the “model.” The focus is on classical conditioning and complete acquiescence to authority. If the author had an opportunity to teach in a non-charter, non TFA environment I am certain she would come to understand how dangerous and damaging is the doubleplusgood of the techniques she has been indoctrinated into embracing.

  • Sarah Schwartz

    Are you kidding me?!? This article is appalling! How can you brag about this?

  • Sarah Schwartz

    Are you kidding me? This article is appalling.

  • Aptidude

    While they’re enjoying all these tests their under-prepared teacher-bot has given them such a taste for, these kindergarten students CERTAINLY won’t miss out on anything important. You know, like learning to play creatively, social skills, etc. /s

  • I actually thought this was satire.