In order to teach at a public school, I had to take a training course. I had to take certification classes. I've been around Master of Education classes and I took certification classes waay back at UGA for my first major. Every single one of these "how to be a teacher" programs stressed the idea that not every child learns in the same way. They all stressed that there will be students in my classes who are not on the same level. Every single class drilled into me that there was no "one size fits all" model in education. Every. Single. Class.
So, why the f**k do we force our students to endure "one size fits all" testing? No comparison in the world would be 'apples to apples.' Hell, comparing the testing results from the school I taught at this year to the testing results from other schools wouldn't even be considered 'apples to apples.' More like 'apples to orange soda.'
These tests aren't even designed to compare apples to the same apples! They exist in a vaccum of assuming every student shows up in the 4th or 8th grade with the same amount of pre-knowledge from the 3rd or 7th grade, regardless of their 3rd or 7th grade iLEAP scores.
And Princeton Review keeps makin' that money!!
Well, yeah, they are....despite needing to do their own financials a tad more carefully, and even then, they came out well. It's a bottom-line gain that must be great for company stockholders, and it makes for an interesting twist on the arguments against all the standardized tests - it's not just about privatizing the schools, it's also about who's really raking it in in all of this mess.
Let's see who else might be profiting off the standardized testing frenzy:
* Tutoring provisions divert money from classrooms that most need it, giving assistance to the few at the expense of the many. Tutoring focuses on test preparation and rarely connects to the curriculum. Student attendance is often low. NCLB (No Child Left Behind) paves the way for private firms to reap huge profits but does not hold the firms accountable.
It works this way in Canada too, apparently.
And then I came across one teacher's test protest, which highlights everything that is wrong about what is going on in the schools today. The whole thing is a must-read....just replace the WASL with the LEAP, Texas' TEAMS test, or any other high-stakes test you can name, and it still rings very true. I've quoted some sections of it below:
On April 15, I refused to give the Washington Assessment of Student Learning to my sixth-grade students at a Seattle Public Schools middle school. I performed this single act of civil disobedience based on personal moral and ethical grounds, as well as professional duty. I believe that the WASL is destructive to our children, teachers, schools, and parents.
It is important for me to note that my disobedient action was not directed at any individual. I love being a teacher; my students are fantastic; my fellow teachers collaborate with and help me every day in numerous ways; and my school administration has always shown a willingness to listen to and support the teachers. I understand that my action has caused people pain, and I am truly sorry for that, but I could no longer stand idly by as something as wrong as the WASL is perpetrated on our children year after year.
Though my act of civil disobedience was individual, I do not stand alone in my strong beliefs. Any Internet search for high-stakes testing will reveal highly regarded educators, distressed parents and sensitive teachers with a wealth of thoughtful writing and case studies supporting my views.
The WASL is bad for kids.
To my mind the measure of successful childhood is that each child learns about who she or he is and how the world works, gains an assertive and confident self image and feels safe, well fed, and happy. Schools, along with parents and communities, need to contribute wisely to this goal. Unfortunately, the WASL creates panic, insecurity, low self esteem and sadness for our children....
Oh, and don't miss the EdWeek online chat tomorrow at 2 PM CST with Pauls Vallas and Pastorek (info courtesy of G-Bitch). Got any questions for 'em? They are accepting submissions...
All questions are screened by an edweek.org editor and the guest speaker prior to posting. A question is not displayed until it is answered by the guest speaker. Due to the volume of questions received, we cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered, or answered in the order of submission. Guests and hosts may decline to answer any questions. Concise questions are strongly encouraged.
...but who the heck knows if they'll even be asked? Or answered? Submit some queries and find out!
Update, 4:34 PM: Ms Maitri, in her sick-as-a-dawg state, alerts us to the nifty New Orleans Public Schools mashup map put together to help monitor the recovery of the schools. Feel better, madame! Perhaps a special spoon might help...
Anudder update, 7:39 PM: If this measure to LEAP test the kids who are in private schools with the help of school vouchers goes through, everybody might want to explore an en masse opt-out...but then, we probably ought to just educate our kids in another state or country, since the LEAP is required for promotion in the public schools here. Ugh.