Thursday, March 14, 2013

The impact of standardized testing in public schools.

This is exactly how it feels to constantly have the threat of losing your job, or having your funding pulled, resting on the performance of a child who for various reasons may not be capable of meeting the testing standards.

Oh, and don't forget kids, school should be fun.


  1. Randall2:52 AM

    Republicans want to privatize the schools.
    (Think Charter Schools)

    Today's Republican Party does not believe in Government-run anything. They believe that everything should be privatized.

    It's obvious why the plantation-owners feel this way. What's baffling is that they can get the workers to vote against their own interests.

    1. Anonymous5:13 AM

      No, think vouchers.

  2. Anonymous3:08 AM

    Absolutely true, Gryphen. Administrators and legislators have lost sight of what education is truly about, though I suspect they have been helped along in their confusion by folks who want to dismantle public education in favor of profit-making or congregation-making private schools (perhaps those two are one an d the same in some instances.)

  3. Sally in MI3:11 AM

    Here in Michigan, our band festivals, which in my day were a chance for us to show off what we'd learned, plus spend a day lsitening to groups from other high schools that we never had a chance to hear, are in danger because the directors of the smaller schools won't participate. Why? Because if they do not come home with Superior ratings from a panel of four men, their jobs are in know, because the school can't afford a decent bassoon or an oboe, and the director had to put the solo in the alto sax, who had a cold and a bad reed, and the performance wasn't perfect that day? Oh, and anyway, music isn't important. But hey, the basketball coach can have a losing season because he's a great guy (but not even a school employee any more, because even those jobs have been privatized in MI.)
    I read somewhere that there are more cases of coaches abusing kids in states where they have privitized the coaches, because since they are not district employees, ie, teachers first, there is little accountability for their behavior during and after practice.Just another horrible GOP plan.

    1. Anonymous5:16 AM

      Athletics should NOT be part of academics, PERIOD. Same thing happened at our INDIANA middle school. Fired a GREAT choral teacher, but built a brand new football field. ADVANCED 8th grade science has done TWO experiments in class, can't afford the chemicals, you know, but they can afford that middle school football field. What fucktards - yeah, talking to you Mitch now prez of Purdue the flagship university - which he is dismantling.

      Embarrassed Purdue Alum

  4. wakeUpAmerica3:55 AM

    Unfortunately in America, education gurus grab at every shiny new hoop they see. What they should be doing is looking closely at what is being done in Finland.

    1. Anonymous8:43 AM

      My computer seems to have developed a mind of its own lately and published the preceding comment before I was finished.

      Please be aware that my reference to "pesky special ed students" was intended as sarcasm. Most of the students I work with are receiving special ed services and I always cringe at the pressure put on them to achieve test scores that they are not yet ready to achieve, either because of significant language delays or cognitive levels.

      Teachers are punished, either through poor evaluations or by reduced pay, if these students do not work at grade levels they are simply not able to reach by test time, if at all.

      We need to get politicians and educational curriculum/testing company CEOs OUT of the educational system and utilize the experience and expertise of teachers and administrators who are actually working on the front lines every day.

  5. Maryland schools are rewarded with money for high test scores.

    Standardized test is the most assinine thing esp if the curriculum doesn't match the standardized testing.

    So from September to the Winter break teachers are reteaching what was lost during the summer break. After the Winter break till about April or May teachers are trying to remember what was on last year's test so they can teach students something on the test.

    It's all a fucking surprise when the test is administered. And there is cheating galore.

  6. Anonymous5:13 AM

    Sorry Gryph, but NONSENSE! The bigger problem isn't text anxiety, but the teaching to the test that goes on a month or two beforehand - to the detriment of REAL learning. As a university prof, do you know how many times students ask me, with astonishment when they see things directions like "answer in a short paragraph or essay," "You mean we have to write, not just fill in the bubble? I've NEVER done that."

    1. Anonymous8:53 AM

      Very true about the bubbles, but you can also have the reverse problem.

      I work with kids who have significant language delays due to hearing loss. They often do very well in math because it is so concrete and logical. Unfortunately, many of the standardized tests are so heavily weighted towards word problems that it becomes far more of a reading test than a math test.

      If the student doesn't understand the problem because their reading isn't up to grade level, they cannot possibly solve it, even if their computation skills are excellent. Many of the tests also include questions where the students must explain how they got their answers. For students with language delays, the writing piece becomes an insurmountable obstacle and they can shut down in frustration. We've now taken what WAS one of their strong subjects and turned it into another experience in failure.

      One of the deaf students I worked with about 15 years ago was great in math and had done really well all year. The end of the year, she was required to take a district test (state tests had not been created for her grade level yet). EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM on the test was a word problem, and the poor kid ended up in tears because she couldn't understand what she was supposed to do.

      There's GOT to be a better way to accurately test these kids without destroying their self-esteem and confidence in the process!

  7. Anonymous6:28 AM

    Unintended consequences of a poorly designed system with perverse incentives. Good intentions without a long term vision of what needed to be the central focus of our educational system has yielded the "teaching to the test" phenomenon. When test scores are what brings in the money for the school, test scores will be ove-emphasized.

    This is all just so short-sighted, and dismantling the public school system will have drastic effects on our economy. With an ever-increasing-income gap, this will result in a dumbing down of those who lack the resources individually that can only be done with the economies of scale that exist with a community effort.

    Say goodbye to education for all but the upper middle and upper class income brackets, who will also have private libraries, since libraries will be considered non-essential services as well for poor and working class communities. After all, "Those people don't need books. Why would THEY need to read?" Sick. Sick. Sick.

    1. Anonymous8:54 AM

      So much for the 'Land of Opportunity'!

  8. Leland7:37 AM

    I'm wondering. One-size fits-all CLOTHING almost never fits anyone and is almost always UGLY.

    So why do they think one size fits all education will work?

    Kick out the crap that has been tried since the early and mid sixties and go back to the tried and true Three R's that made us one of the best educated countries in the world with advanced science so good we were able to put a man on the moon.

    Think we would be abel to do that with today's graduates? Starting from almost scratch as they did back then? And yes, I am aware of Werner von Braun. However, the Soviet Union had German scientists, too and we still beat them, even with all the money the CCCP threw at their scientists

  9. cckids9:59 AM

    This is one of the main reasons I decided to homeschool my kids. I'm not religious & don't want to "keep them away" from society, but the sheer amount of TIME wasted on standardized testing just killed me. At least a month every year.

    And my son, especially, has test anxiety to the point that he, as a 3rd grader, was coming home with migraines. It was the timed part of the test that got to him; he can do the work very well (right now, he is an A student in college), he just couldn't do it with that ticking clock staring at him, so to speak.

    My sister teaches 4th grade, and HATES the standardized testing crap. Out of a class of 30, she has 5 special-needs kids, none of whom are close to grade level. It makes her sick, when they are progressing well at their own abilities, to force them to take a test that will reinforce the feeling that they are stupid.
    Also, the fact that a significant percentage of her class is guaranteed to fail the test doesn't help her "stats" as a "qualified" teacher. And she is an exceptional teacher, one that kids will learn from & remember forever. Our system was set up for another time & we need to completely overhaul it.

    1. Anonymous4:52 PM

      A close friend of mine is a Teacher of the Deaf. For many years she had a self-contained Hard of Hearing class that was specifically for children with significant hearing losses who were far below grade level. She is an amazing teacher and often helped her students make two or three years of growth each year. By any sensible standards, this would have made her a overwhelming success. However, because NONE of her students were on grade level (or they wouldn't have been in her class in the first place!), the test scores make her look like a complete failure and horrible teacher.

      She is now an itinerant teacher and provides support for students in other teachers' classes. She is no longer perceived as a lousy teacher because the evaluation system is different for itinerant teachers, and the tremendous stress she had been experiencing in her own classroom is now gone.

      The evaluation systems which place an extraordinary amount of weight on test scores are guaranteed to discourage anyone from working with inner city children and special ed students, all of whom need the best and most dedicated teachers out there.

      As a nation, we are failing our children in the most critical part of their lives - their education.

  10. Anita Winecooler12:30 PM

    We desperately need Public School reform in this country, and the privatization, school vouchers, and grading teachers on student's test scores is THE tool of choice to set our kids up for failure.
    We chose to send our kids to Public Schools, but we're "fortunate" in that where we live, we have great public schools with dedicated teachers and parents who are actively involved in the process of fostering a good learning environment.
    What bothers me most, is that the Administrators get the lion's share on the payscale regardless of test results. The brunt of the fallout ends up being shouldered by the teachers.
    What should be "standardized" is equal access to quality public education for ALL students.

  11. In Canada we have always had end of year " government tests", as we used to call them.....BUT.....every school, in every province has the same basic course material, including French as a ~second ~language for all but Quebec, then it's reversed.

    Our teachers have been promoted and demoted as a result of these scores.

    During my own school years in cities and in rural areas, as my parents moved allot, I even attended a one room school...I have NEVER seen this fail .

    Then as my children moved through the school system, it worked just as well.

    I have never heard a Canadian teacher complain about this, I have friends and family in the profession.

    Class sizes and ESL are a different matter.

    You had to pass them to go from 7th to 8th grade, but once in junior and senior high school you could be "recommended" if you maintained a "B" average in any given subject, until 12th grade...then you have to pass them to graduate.

    In Canada we have "correspondence" rather than "home schooling".

    Your course material comes in the mail and you mail back your lessons, e-mail now if you have access and a computer/printer.

    It was designed to accomodate students in remote areas, in order to guarantee~~ equal public education for all.~~

    Regardless, correspondence students have to have supervised testing at end of year.

    Private school students, whether they are of the religious variety or only for the uber wealthy...ALL...must pass these government tests.

    This is the most fair system I have seen, but it only works because the course material is consistant.

    If you move from one school to another in the middle of a school year you just carry on AND your teacher doesn't have to devote extra time to help you catch-up.

    The only time it may be affected is when a school boards cannot afford the new material and text books as they are issued, BUT they are given a limited amount of time, 2 years I think, to catch up.

    This prevents the religious schools from rewriting history and desecrating science AND the home schooled are guaranteed a comprehensive education.

    It is the law of the land, when you decide to teach your children at home, if you refuse to or are unable to teach your children this course material...then they MUST attend a proper school, if the parents continue to refuse to comply, they will be charged and very likely the children are placed in foster care.

    If you live in a populated are, you cannot arbitrarily decide to teach you kids at home must demonstrate a logical reason why you do not want them in public or private school.

    Correspondence courses are free to all, BUT they are not cheap and it puts a burden on the school board.

    I came across an American couple, one from Texas, the other from Mississippi, the wife had inherited property from her Canadian father so they were running a wilderness camp of sorts.

    They were quite miffed that they could not teach their kids their own version of religious wing-nuttery as "home-schooling"....the RCMP had been to "visit", the law was made clear as crystal.... so they had to do the same as other parents in the area.


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