Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Standardized Confusion

I apologize to my non-US readers in advance, but you might find this interesting, too. The next time you have 18 minutes and need a good laugh, have a look at this video from John Oliver regarding standardized testing in the US’s public schools. This comes with a language advisory.

Funny? I thought it was a riot. At the same time, it’s disturbing. Two-thirds of my property tax bill goes to support my county’s schools, and it sounds like a good amount of that money goes to pay companies with a vested interest in testing kids continually, as required by Federal law. And it sounds like the teachers are under undue pressure to make sure that the students show progress on the tests administered by states under Federal law. So much so, in fact, that recently eleven teachers and administrators of the Atlanta Public Schools were handed fines and prison sentences for their part in a cheating scandal involving the standardized tests they were ordered to administer by the state Board of Education. Federal funding for the state’s schools is dependent on showing that the students are progressing. So there’s a lot of money involved.

But even worse than all of that is the mental and emotional pressure the kids are under with all of the standardized testing. I mean, kids are throwing up in the middle of tests. They’re taking tests constantly. Is it really showing anyone in this country that the kids are learning? Do they even have time to learn anything, with all the testing they have to deal with?

I realize that students in the US are starting to show poorly on the international stage, and it’s embarrassing, and yes, we need to do something about it. But is this the way to make that change? I don’t think it is. And the thing I worry about is that, even if we do find what works, we’re so bought into the way we’re doing it now, no one will want to change that.

I’d really like to know what you think.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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