Testing Culture in Public Schools

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
Testing Culture in Public Schools
51
Sat, 03-22-2014 - 8:03pm

Now that conservative commentator Michelle Malkin is all up in arms about excessive testing and our school children being used as lab rats, do you suppose I'll be forgiven for seeing and naming the issue a decade ago?<http://m.columbiatribune.com/opinion/columnists/revolt-against-the-testing-tyrants/article_8e237030-b167-11e3-9846-10604b9f6eda.html>

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 4:06am

They were taught to spell phoenetically last year in kindy. Now the expectation is that they will spell correctly.

See, that would drive me insane too. You can't spell English phonetically. I am told that you can spell Serbian phonetically, and there may be a few other languages like that, but it is not the norm and English has notoriously difficult spelling.

I remember doing quite a lot of work with dd on spelling. Of course, she is the kid who at age 4 refused to write anything unless she was 100% of the spelling. So I would spell out loud for her constantly. Because that was really a drag, I was extremely motivated to teach her to spell Sealed I can still picture the look on her face when the pattern of "taught-bought-caught" clicked. She thought that was completely awesome.

By the way, for teaching spelling, I much prefer dictation to spelling lists.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 4:25am

That description of kindergarten testing really makes you wonder what people are thinking, if they are thinking at all. That blog includes a couple of excerpts from Diane Ravitch descriptions of the Finnish school system. The system I grew up in was similar (even if it was not as spectacular as the Finnish one, the basic approach was very similar). 

We started K at 6, and we did not receive reading instruction until first grade, at age 7. Although it was the hippie 70s, we had thorough grammar instruction and frequent dictation to reinforce spelling and grammar knowledge. Our math curriculum combined drill for facts with "new math," problem solving etc.

We had plenty of recess, great sports facilities, good art and music instruction, as well as access to free extra-curricular music lessons and sports. We were taught three foreign languages (English, German and Latin) before entering HS (HS for us being grades 10-12, and grades K-9 are all in the same school, no middle school or junior high, IOW).

We were not graded until 7th grade. In 7th grade, we started taking annual, proctored, written exams in our main subjects: math, Danish composition, English composition and later on also German composition (gah!). At the end of 9th grade, we also had a Latin exam, which you had to pass to enter HS. The Latin exam was an oral exam, conducted by a teacher from a different school than your own.

In HS, we received grades at the end of each year, and took matriculation exams in selected subjects, the grades on which counted for college admission.

Avatar for savcal2011
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2010
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 10:30am

pumpkinangel wrote:
<p><>I agree, I believe the outcry is coming from everywhere and if one claims to not hear that outcry then they aren't paying very close attention to education today.  I'm also not really seeing the point in the states requring additonal testing to graduate from high school, why would that be needed if a high school is doing their job?</p>

That's the point.  The testing is how the states know the schools are doing their job ... apparently.

"I don’t mind a banshee, that’s fine. 2 banshees? I HATE you. I actually wish bad things upon you." -- Day[9] Daily #459 P1

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-27-1998
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 11:01am

savcal2011 wrote:
<p><blockquote class="quote-msg quote-nest-1 odd"><div class="quote-author"><em class="placeholder">pumpkinangel</em> wrote:</div>&lt;p&gt;&lt;&gt;I agree, I believe the outcry is coming from everywhere and if one claims to not hear that outcry then they aren't paying very close attention to education today.  I'm also not really seeing the point in the states requring additonal testing to graduate from high school, why would that be needed if a high school is doing their job?&lt;/p&gt;</blockquote></p><p>That's the point.  The testing is how the states know the schools are doing their job ... apparently. </p>

So often though these types of tests aren't reflective of the course, you hear teachers and schools talking about teaching to the test.  

PumpkinAngel

Avatar for savcal2011
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2010
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 11:56am

pumpkinangel wrote:
<p><blockquote class="quote-msg quote-nest-1 odd"><div class="quote-author"><em class="placeholder">savcal2011</em> wrote:</div>&lt;p&gt;&lt;blockquote class="quote-msg quote-nest-1 odd"&gt;&lt;div class="quote-author"&gt;&lt;em class="placeholder"&gt;pumpkinangel&lt;/em&gt; wrote:&lt;/div&gt;&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;&amp;lt;&amp;gt;I agree, I believe the outcry is coming from everywhere and if one claims to not hear that outcry then they aren't paying very close attention to education today.  I'm also not really seeing the point in the states requring additonal testing to graduate from high school, why would that be needed if a high school is doing their job?&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;&lt;/p&gt;&lt;p&gt;That's the point.  The testing is how the states know the schools are doing their job ... apparently. &lt;/p&gt;</blockquote></p><p>So often though these types of tests aren't reflective of the course, you hear teachers and schools talking about teaching to the test.  </p>

I agree.  I don't think it's a good way to be sure schools are doing their job .. but that's apparently what the state is trying to do.

"I don’t mind a banshee, that’s fine. 2 banshees? I HATE you. I actually wish bad things upon you." -- Day[9] Daily #459 P1

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 12:48pm

savcal2011 wrote:
<p><blockquote class="quote-msg quote-nest-1 odd"><div class="quote-author"><em class="placeholder">pumpkinangel</em> wrote:</div>&lt;p&gt;&lt;&gt;I agree, I believe the outcry is coming from everywhere and if one claims to not hear that outcry then they aren't paying very close attention to education today.  I'm also not really seeing the point in the states requring additonal testing to graduate from high school, why would that be needed if a high school is doing their job?&lt;/p&gt;</blockquote></p><p>That's the point.  The testing is how the states know the schools are doing their job ... apparently. </p>

I don't trust it and I don't like it.  It was born from NCLB crap, so that makes me think it's not a good thing and that there has to be a lot of teaching to the test.  We have a curriculum, you have to take certain classes, which all have been set up to cover what the district wants covered.  My nephew was in the unfortunate position of graduating last year without a diploma because he couldn't pass the math test.  He must have taken it at least 3 times, and the first time he was not allowed to have his test accomodations from his IEP.  Any test subsequent to that they get them.  But he went though all his classes, passed them. Due to his learning disabilities, I'm sure he didn't take very high math classes.  But because of his IEP he is able to continue taking the test until he turns 21 or 22.  It also made him eligible to enroll in a special math class this fall, at an alternative school and finally had a math teacher who was able to make it all click for him and he passed it this fall. 

It makes me wonder if it matters for anyone besides a college application.  If you have a job application, (in our local area) do many businesses ask--did you get a diploma or a certificate.  Or do they just asked if and when you graduated.

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2011
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 1:40pm

We spend $30-$60k per year per each incarcerated adult in our country; maintain a ridiculously large military; spend more per capita than any other country on health care expenses.

You'd think we could determine (and pay for) one kick-ass educational system. One that benefits both society and the individual student. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2003
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 3:53pm

My kids are in public elementary school (PreK and 2nd) and I haven't yet noticed any overtesting.  NCLB testing begins in 3rd grade here, and it seems to be twice a year for about a week-- possibly a bit longer now that they do computerized testing and have to stagger the testing times because of computer lab access.  DD has had a few reading standardized tests, but nothing too onerous or with heavy pressure.  I actually don't see as much of a problem with the testing and teaching to the test for the little kids as I do with older kids.  With the little kids, they have to learn addition and subtraction, spelling and reading comprehension all of which can be tested fairly easily.  With older kids who should be learning to write essays (good, researched essays), the current testing methods are abysmal.  I see a lot of students coming into college who have learned to write for the test and use vocabulary words they don't understand or complicated sentence structures, because that's what earns additional points on the test.  

Also, I am currently irritated by the discussions of the Common Core in the media.  There are a lot of things being attributed to the Common Core that are really bad curriculum choices by individual districts rather than anything having to do with the Common Core.  DD still has vocabulary and spelling words each week-- the only difference I've noticed is that they are reading more non-fiction stories and doing more science-type projects, which I don't have a problem with.

I think that the biggest problems in education are that the best and brightest are avoiding careers in education because adminstrators are doing stupid stuff like tying testing scores to salaries and school funding.  Which encourages teachers to do little more than teach to the test.  Teaching jobs just don't pay enough-- who wants to get a Masters degree and then not be paid a living wage and be treated like an hourly service worker instead of a respected professional?  Adminstrators are often idiots who make terrible decisions based on anecdata and School Board members have no experience with sound educational policy and serve mostly to give good contract deals to their friends for new school buildings.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2003
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 3:54pm

just_another_marla wrote:
We spend $30-$60k per year per each incarcerated adult in our country; maintain a ridiculously large military; spend more per capita than any other country on health care expenses. You'd think we could determine (and pay for) one kick-ass educational system. One that benefits both society and the individual student.

Amen.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-31-2011
Tue, 03-25-2014 - 6:02pm

The testing was put into place to measure discrepancies between high-performing school districts and under-performing school districts, no? The differences expose socioeconomic strata. Fix that, and you fix education. As long as it exists, and we have major pockets of poverty, discrepancies won't go away. 

Because IMO, NCLB or Common Core makes very little difference in the life of Gesichtgal's children. Whether her daughter gets a weekly spelling test or has to memorize multiplucation tables is really going to make very little difference in her life. It's insignificant. Does anyone really think that our public education system's fatal flaw is curiculum? I feel as though the entire discussion about education ignores the elephant in the room. The elephant's name is Poverty.