I Would Hate School Today

The more I read about what the wave of standardized testing is doing to education, the more I would hate being a student today. Here’s what Ohio teacher and 25 year teaching veteran Dawn Neely-Randall has to say (boldface mine):

Last school year, one of my fifth-grade below-level readers was working hard and making great gains. However, during the big Ohio Achievement Assessment in reading at the end of April, when she had already put in about an hour and a half of testing with an hour to go, the stress became too much and she had a total meltdown. As much as I had already reminded her “this is just one test on one day in your life” and “just do your best,” this student was smart enough to know that this “one test” would determine the class she would get into in middle school and I knew she was worried about being pulled out of class for remediation (again).

This child sobbed because she cared so much and watching her suffer became a defining moment for me. It became blatantly obvious how one high-stakes standardized test had just negated the year’s worth of reading confidence and motivation she had worked so hard to attain. I can no longer be a teacher who tries to build these 10-year-olds up on one hand, but then throws them to the testing wolves with the other.

My student had trusted me and jumped through hoops for me all year long, but then in her greatest moment of testing distress, all I could do was hand her some tissues.

A lot of people in our Buckeye state (and country) are making nutty decisions that aren’t at all good for children; ones I feel sure teachers could prove are harmful in a court of law (don’t even get me started with the testing that’s going on in kindergarten classes with 5-year-olds).

In Ohio, third-graders are required to take a two-and-a-half hour exam, the outcome of which determines whether they’ll be held back a grade–not a comprehensive evaluation made by educators familiar with the child, but a single test that no education professional has seen until it’s administered. For eight and nine year olds. But, of course, it’s all about the kids:

If so many of our schools are seen as “failing,” yet so many of our students are using a test company’s test prep materials ($$$) which are being reported to the state via the test company’s computerized program ($$$) and then taking the test company’s multitude of standardized tests ($$$), which are then assessed by the test company’s evaluators ($$$), and then remediation is done with students using, again, the test company’s intervention materials ($$$); and are then taking the same test company’s own graduation test ($$$) that the test company has prepared the K-12 materials for in the first place……. then, just exactly who, or what, is really failing that child? But have no fear, dropouts can later take a GED ($$$) administered by the same testing company.

Good question. It’s one thing to use tests to get a handle on how schools are doing, but, with this regime, some students will ‘fail’ simply because they had a bad day, they were nervous, and so on. Those ‘failures’ can affect the rest of their educational careers. At eight and nine years of age.

This is madness, and years from now, after we have screwed up a bunch of people, it will be too late even if we have the brains to recognize the failure of ‘reform’.

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1 Response to I Would Hate School Today

  1. miserybob says:

    It’s incredibly sad. At my daughter’s (private) school, they take one mandatory standardized test a year – the National Mythology Exam – and they all love it. When results come in, they get medals if they only missed 0, 1, or 2 questions and they stand and cheer each other. She loves school every single day. That’s what learning should feel like for every kid.

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