Monday, December 06, 2010

My Soap Box....Education Part I

I mentioned in a previous post how my sister, Andrea, has gone back to school to get her degree in elementary ed. Since I REALLY miss being in college (seriously, I do...there is no sarcasm in that statement), I told my sister that I wanted to read her papers and that I'd love to help her with research, writing, editing, or anything else that she might want some help with (not that she can't do it on her own...she is just so busy and I LOVE to write papers). Anyways, just recently she called me and told me that she was writing a paper on standardized testing and that she needed more. So I went to work...and oh man did she wake a sleeping giant. I had forgotten how passionately I felt about standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, etc. I researched and researched and called everyone I knew (okay, not everyone) and told them all about my feelings on the subject. It is one of those subjects that you probably do not want to engage me in unless you are ready for some long-winded passion (another one of those subjects is the UFC fighting). I had decided against blogging about it because part of my feelings have to do with politics and I learned awhile back that it is probably not a good idea to express political views on a blog unless you want some serious debate. But, the more I've thought about this, the more that I've realized that if I don't speak out, then I am no different than the person who could care less about education in America. I do care. I not only care, but I am deeply concerned. Below is just a little portion of what I sent my sister.

...In this same article that was quoted above, Henry lists 12 reasons why high stakes tests are failing our kids. Over and over again the point is brought out that standardized testing focuses on lower level thinking skills. While the higher level skills of creativity, whole analysis, critical thinking, creative problem solving, and complex reasoning are being pushed aside in order to focus on the rote memorization and multiple choice questions that "will be on the test". I wonder how many creative geniuses are being shut down or how many innovative ideas will never surface because of the way our children are being taught. Education is a life long process. It is the very foundation upon which our country rests and it is the pivotal point upon which our children's future will be determined. How can we teach our children the value of continuing and loving education if the excitement and endless possibilities of learning are being diluted and stifled with standardized testing? Yes, there must be accountability. But when did the solution to accountability turn into a high stakes test where a student's future and current capacity rest on the multiple choice answers of A,B,C, or D?

What are your opinions? If you don't have any, you may want to read this article.

6 comments:

Mary said...

I agree. I hate standardized testing and feel that too many teachers are teaching to those tests instead of enriching the kids and their desire to learn.

Beadles said...

The problem isn't the teachers teaching to pass test. The problem is that teachers in public schools are FORCED to get their children to pass tests so the schools qualify for funding. Teachers have lost their ability to teach instead they are teaching kids how to pass a test, not explore, learn things they are interested in, develop skills for life. Yes, we as parents are and should be doing all of this as well - but the time they spend away from us should be enriching and worth while - helping them be well rounded and a success for themselves and society!

Mandy said...

I agree with the 2nd comment here...as a teacher, I have felt the frustration of being forced to teach certain objectives in a restricted time frame in order to prepare kids for that a,b,c,d standardized test. The governement and county boards of ed only compare districts by these test results and then determine the quality of education in those classrooms and schools. It is very frustrating.....we need to be able to explore education from many different angles, and the state of our nation's education system does not allow it.

Shannon said...

I think that parents need to be more vocal with their opinions regarding the education of their children. Too many parents send their children off to what is--in essesnce--government sponsored day-care, and don't spend any thought considering what exactly goes on there. Also, the teachers I think can take some of the responsibility as well. To say that they are "forced" to teach these things is a little bit of a stretch, don't you think? If they really disagree with the system, they can take their gripes to their representative, and then if that doesn't work they could go teach at a private school or somewhere else that isn't so stringent about test requirements. If enough teachers spoke up about it, perhaps a change would occur. It might take a long time, but it's better than just sitting on our hands saying "we can't change anything!" Many parents are just choosing to teach their children at home as well to combat the countless problems in public schools.

erin sheely said...

I am also not a fan of the standardized test. My kids are not old enough to have taken them yet, but it still is something I think about. I have read several books about how public education is failing students. And a lot of it has to do with "teaching to the test" rather than teaching and encouraging learning. I also think that the lack of parents in education is a huge problem.

Carrie said...

I agree 100%. Standardized test are a sad way to see if the teachers are doing a good job force feeding our kids things they need to memorize not learn. Jake had his first EOG's last year (end of grade tests), and the teacher made them completely paranoid (because she was-can't blame her)and they barely went out for recess because they didn't have enough time to cram it all in. I am not a fan of our educational system on any level right now. I think that the idea of leaving no child behind is amazing, but the plan of action is ridiculous. If we don't want any child left behind we need much smaller class rooms, assistants in every room for more one on one time, and a total revamp of how they are taught....And that is just the tip of the ice burg on what needs to change! Love this post Melissa!!!!

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