Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Who else can we test?

Remember the old party game "How low can you go"?   It had to do with a stick held by two people and each time the dancer tried to get under the stick without hitting the stick, it was lowered.   The latest and greatest testing program reminds me of that game.
It seems that now we are doing readiness assessments of kindergarten children.  These assessments are done individually by the kindergarten teachers. They are linked to the Common Core Standards. They are supposed to take 45 minutes to complete but teachers report that they take much longer than that.  Additionally, during the time the teacher is doing the assessment, the rest of the class is being taught by a substitute.  Multiply that 45 minutes to an hour times about 25 kids in the class and you are subtracting a huge amount of instructional time from the other children.
Then there is the feeling of the child being tested.  Some of these kids are not ready for kindergarten based on the standards of this test.  These children are only five years old!  Is it really necessary for them to have these failure experiences so young.
Teachers have been assessing the readiness of kindergarten children for many, many years.  They have done so informally and carefully.  They have done so while protecting the self esteem of these very young learners.  Older children cry and tantrum when faced with these failure experiences.   The younger ones just dissolve in a puddle.  The tests also make no accommodation for English Language Learners or children with special education needs.
For once the unions are speaking out on the side of children.   And yet again no one is listening.  It has been suggested that the tests be suspended until they can, at the very minimum, be revised to more appropriately meet children's needs.  The state administrative offices have turned a deaf ear to the request.
These kids are five years old.   There should be a parental campaign to keep kids home on the testing day.  Well over 90% of teachers surveyed said the testing and the results would not improve instruction and do take away instruction time from the children not being tested.
We are back to the old axiom.  Those who can teach, those who can't develop tests about what is taught.   Our kids need a union.  Too bad they are too young to form one.

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