Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Testing Insanity

I think we can all agree that the No Child Left Behind guidelines are crazy. How can we say that by a certain year ALL children will reach an idealized level of proficiency no matter what their challenges? 

What about the child in special education?

What about the second language learner?

What about the child who has an unstable home life?

What about the child who isn't developmentally ready to master a concept?

Does a 10 year old REALLY have to identify present and past participles by name? How can they face the world without knowing the chemical formula for photosynthesis and cellular respiration before their 11th birthday? If you think I'm kidding, check the California State Standards.

I am all for teacher accountability, if it is realistic and dignifies the educator. I am all for state standards that serve as a guideline/checklist for what a child in a given grade needs to learn.

I am vehemently opposed to a one day snapshot - the annual standardized tests - that defines a student's proficiency as a learner.

Here is an article by Marion Brady that I'm urging you to read. I guarantee it will fire you up.
When An Adult Took Standardized Tests Forced on Kids

A disturbing trend in education has developed (past participle). One where teachers are being forced to "teach to the test" or their job may be at stake. 

I have been an educator for over twenty-five years and I am sorry to say this trend/reality is leaching (present participle) the joy out of teaching. 

To all my brothers and sisters in education:
You matter
You are heroes
Hold on to the joy


  1. Leslie, my children go to a charter school. I see a lot of difference between teaching to the child's needs that happens at our school and teaching to the test that happens at schools that my friends' kids attend. All the teachers care, of course, but they also have to meet different guidelines and pressures. I have so much respect for all the teachers who are doing their best to prepare our next generation!

  2. I want to stand up and do a fist pump! That was awesome, Leslie! Plus what a cool picture. Seriously though, good for you.

  3. Teachers ARE heroes, and we parents are thankful for all of you. I'm sorry you're all going through this...

  4. I homeschool two of my kids right now, homeschooled the older ones off an on over 13 years. I do it precisely because each child learns at a different pace, has different needs, and different interests. They still take the STAR test because it is required by law, but I don't pay much attention to the results. Feels very cookie-cutterish to me. Kids are individuals. Kudos to those educators who recognize this and teach to the child, not to the test.

  5. Laurisa - I'm happy to report none of my colleagues teach to the test. We still dignify the kids for their unique selves.

    Julie, Susan, and Lisa - Thanks for the kind words. It's awesome to hear support in this age where teachers are painted all too often as villains.

  6. And therefore, has taken the joy out of learning for our children. No wonder we have reluctant readers! Why don't we let the educators handle the educating instead of politicians!!

    That article was very enlightening. Now if someone other than parents would take notice of it. Thanks for the link to the article.


  7. As far as I know, that isn't a problem here in Alberta Canada. But I can't say for sure. I just know all my kids are getting a well rounded education. :D

  8. I quite like this soap box speech. I shout "Amen" and try not to feel guilty for my inability to pick out a participle (even with your examples).

  9. Teachers are my heros too!!!

    I have share my positive experience with No Child Left Behind. My daughter was way, way behind the standards for reading in her grade. She's smart lots of other ways, so I figured she'd learn on her own time; it was probably one of those "not developmentally ready" things.

    But my school really went all out to help her. She got placed in a group with two other kids struggling to read. Their teacher was wonderful. Instead of making them feel like freaks, he made learning fun for them. Her scores shot up, but most importantly, she LOVES to read.


  10. Thanks for weighing in, Stina and Michele.

    Perfectly put, Margo. I know in my district we were helping our kids with challenges, no matter what they were, even before NCLB. As you said, that's what good teachers do naturally.

  11. I read the Washington Post report and all I can say is WOW! I'd hate to imagine the grade I would make.

    It's scary (and sad) to think of the discouragement many must feel after taking these tests. What if--like the article stated--the students get the impression they 'aren't college material' and never fulfill their true potential?

    Teachers--in my opinion--are so underrated. They, after all, are helping to raise, encourage, and mold our most valuable possessions. They deserve so much more than they get--monetarily and respectfully.

    Please don't grade me on my punctuation. lol I went way overboard with the em-dashes. They are addicting...almost as much as ellipses... haha

    Thanks for the fabulous, thought-provoking post!

  12. Well said, Leslie! I agree with the others--teachers are true heroes for seeing children in 3-D.

  13. I always thought those standardized tests were dreadful.

    Love the picture. I can relate to it! :)

  14. I can't agree more with you. Teachers deserve so much more than what they're getting in this country. They are true heroes and yet when them people high up decide to "save" money. Education is one of the first things they go after and still they expect results.
    I truly truly admire and respect any one who takes on the job of a teacher.

  15. Oh my gosh, you are so right. So so right. I've had issues with NCLB from the very beginning, for this exact same reason. We absolutely need teachers behind every single child, particularly the ones with home or personal challenges, but that doesn't mean we should be forcing anything them, or keeping the more advanced ones back to some arbitrary "standard." Great post!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  16. Thank you everyone for your positive vibes and support. I'm passing it on to my fellow downtrodden teachers.