Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Tis the season for standardized tests and I get it. I mean, I know that is how schools receive funding and it is the only way that the state assesses student performance and learning. For decades now we have coddled a system (thanks to liberal and conservative presidents) that has culminated with the Every Child Left Behind act.

Do elementary children actually cry? Yep. They freak out and sometimes have to be removed from the room. This happens to the entire pectrum of achievers. Lots of stress is placed on the Missouri's standardized test (MAP). Teachers and kids alike are on battleship alert. Nationwide, the tests get harder and harder. More rigor – everyone wants more rigor.

Click here to read this story about the kids crying at home over Indiana's standardized test. Yikes. What do we do? That depends on who you talk to. Teachers do their jobs as best they can. Students study the skills to be assessed on the test. Administrators try to encourage the best results they can. Parents try to keep their kids from freaking out.

Who is working toward changing the system? Who should be working to change the way we do things? How do we enact a full frontal educational lobotomy? Most teacher's unions are fighting to change standardized testing. We've heard rumors that politicians are unhappy with Every Child Left Behind, but can we really count on them?


Anonymous said...

My opinoin... If US schools would conductr classes more like many other countries, our children would be more intelligent/smarter. This going to school a couple of months then having days off so teachers can have a rest (I know, many go to classes to improve their knowledge) from the children. Then we have a long Thanksgiving and Christmas break a Spring break and a 3 month summer break. Now they're wanting to do a 4 day week. Everyone is gettng more quality education than the USA. Oh, by the way, many parents have more interest in fishing, hunting, etc. then they do in their child's education. We, as a country, need to wake up and realize we get nothing if nothing is invested. Let's cut down on all the sports and spend more time on the essentials. Look at all the dollars that could be re-directed to education.

Thank you for allowing me to say my piece.

Tina Wann said...

It doesn't surprise me that kids cry over these tests. There is soooo much pressure for the kids, teachers, and districts. I recently took a class outlining how scores for each district are calculated, and walked away feeling as if the whole thing seemed even more unfair. Hope change comes soon!

Anonymous said...

Part of eductaion lies in how they educate. But the more important half is individual's own willingness to learn. To be honest, looking at here in comparison to some other countries, the education system here is way better ... for those who do desire to learn. In some places the schools can't even get enough books, in worse regions, students still have to work for their own food. My opinion is that really it is the comfort in U.S. and the easiness in how these things are obtained that get people to choose to be dumb, and for the most part to use laziness as an excuse of being dumb. My parents used to tell me when I was young that life is not an easy plateau, if one wants to end up somewhere high or even just somewhere, he'll have to starting working his way up, sooner or later. To be honest, I would much rather my kids cry now in elementary than having them broken by the competitive nature of life and then coming back in tears.

All the hardship one goes through are part of the necessary process to make that someone great and worth knowing.


ReniLyn said...

So let me get this straight (to the Anon poster HS). You feel that our children should be traumatized by the school system because thats "better"? That's completely insane!

These children are not taught the basics any longer in school. They are simply taught to "take the test". It has nothing and everything to do with the (and I loved this lol) Every Child Left Behind Act. High stakes standardized testing benefits no one but the test creators and publishers.

It is generally, a horrible idea. This system puts too much emphasis on "punishing" low-performing schools and not enough on HELPING these schools improve. The high stakes testing basically holds teachers responsible for elements out of their control. For example, health, nutrition, family background, frequent moves, and home language are all factors in performance. The only thing that does, is cause antagonism between teachers, students and parents. It does nothing to improve the learning process!

In my state, Colorado, high stakes testing costs up to 16 million dollars per year. As parents, shouldn't we push to have that money spent on LEARNING, rather than test taking?

Another news item that concerns us is that Armstrong Williams’ company, the Graham Williams Group, was paid $241,000 by the U.S. Department of Education to advocate this form of testing. You heard right, the Bush administration paid a prominent commentator to support the educational reform of the No Child Left Behind legislation. NCLB is the legislation that mandates testing of the students. The U.S. Department of Education has defended its’ decision to use taxpayer funds for this purpose. What do you think of that? If this legislation is so vital to education, why do they need to bribe people to support it and tout it?

From a teacher’s point of view, it only makes sense to teach what you will be evaluated on. Thus, teachers and school districts are encouraged to ‘teach to the test’, that is, to tailor instruction to what is on the high stakes test for that state. Nothing more.

With high stakes testing, we have winners and losers. Some children will be labeled slow learners, some will be labeled gifted. Children often internalize those labels and there is even research indicating they live up to them. For the losers, we have a negative self-concept, for the winners we may have a sense of smugness, superiority, and entitlement.

Our position as parents,obviously, is that schools should be for learning for all students, not for the further marginalization of some.

So please, do not preach that standardized high stakes testing is a good thing or is "toughening up" your kids while their young...before you look at all of the facts.