Monday, June 1, 2015

It is June and time to check the kids report cards and see how they have progressed in general this year. Isn’t that is what standardized tests are for? This year teachers and students were pretty upset over testing. Why? The news reports were staggering of how students opted out and didn’t even want to take them. I never even knew you had a choice. In the Lower Hudson Valley of New York more than 25% per cent of their students in grade three through eight opted out of the state tests. In the APS PARCE Test 1,000 Middle School kids walked out and an additional 1,700 students opted out from all grades including high school. In Seattle at Nathan Hale High School, not a single student showed up to take the Common Core Test.

How is this possible? I can understand that kids are sick of taking tests between the benchmarks, diagnostics and survey tests, students are taking between 10 and 20 standardized tests depending on the grade a total average of 113 tests taken by Graduation. Testing takes a toll on kids. They cry and throw up from the pressure. Then the dismal results come in. When 40 nations took the International Science & Math Test, American students scored near the bottom. I blame this mess on Bush. He was in office only three days in 2001 when he signed into law his No Child Left Behind   policy.  It was data driven and required lots of testing to identify failing schools.

No Child Left Behind nearly tripled the required number of tests from six to 17. Now Obama types in their campaigns critic   testing by saying that filling in bubbles with a pencil on a test does not determine the talents of a child or their intelligence. Yet when Obama was elected he did not get rid of tests instead he added his own tests like Race to the Top.  We do need to narrow the gap between performing and under performing schools, between economic and racial disparities. Anything that can help narrow these gaps is a good thing but the problem has been in the implementation. Eleven states have been tying teacher performance to kids test scores. It is called value-added analysis.

If the student gets a higher test score at the end of the year, the teacher gets a higher rating. If the student does poorly on the test, the teacher’s rating falls. So even if you have graduated from an ivy league college with high honors, if the student you have who comes from a crack whore mother and lives on the street and never does his homework, all of a sudden you are a horrible teacher. Is this what a teacher’s career depends on? These tests are important to everyone now. What do you do if the test is bad and does not even reflect what is being taught in that region? A standardized test should not determine anyone’s career; student or teacher. So if standardized tests are bad for teachers as well as students, then who are they good for?

The fact is that there are for profit testing companies out there like Measured Progress, Pearson and AIR. The largest one is Pearson Education and as of 2012 they had nearly 40% of the testing market and has a shocking influence over American education. They even control a GED when you fail all their other tests.  There test are full of errors and many of their questions just don’t make sense meanwhile students as well as teachers are being held hostage to these tests. The company looks for those to grade the test on   Craig’s List. Sometimes grades are not given out based on merit but on quota. How is anything going to change if it is also illegal to discuss or critique test questions?

We have had more than a decade of standardized test and maybe it is time to put the test to the test. Over these years we have no evidence that these tests have made anyone better, student or teacher. Both Bush and Obama thought they were helping. All they were helping were testing companies make profits but students and teachers are just pissed off over it all. Keep professional dedicated teachers out of your political campaigns and help families have a stable home where education can be fostered after 3 o’clock in the afternoon and America will be a great educated nation again.

No comments:

Post a Comment