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Filling In The Bubbles.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Filling In The Bubbles.

On Monday, T walked in the door after school and informed us that he needed a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast Tuesday.

"Don't you need that everyday?" I asked.

Then he told us he also needed two sharpened #2 pencils.

It clicked. It's MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) time. Otherwise meant as fulfilling Minnesota's part of No Child Left Behind.

Before bed, he mentioned that he was worried that if he didn't do well, the school would not get any money.

Nine year olds today just don't have enough to worry about, do they?

I am not nearly well versed enough to intelligently discuss the entire No Child Left Behind Act so I won't divulge too far. But I have mixed feeling on such a focus on standardized testing.

For starters, I was an awful test taker as a kid. Standardized tests definitely weren't an adequate way of representing what kind of student I was.

There is such pressure now for students to score high and do well on these tests. I don't recall this pressure during miscellaneous testing when I was going through school. We were encouraged to get a good nights rest and a healthy breakfast all the time, not just test week. There were no study guides that came home to review and practice tests. There were no snacks during the test to help fill rumbling tummies. And as far as I can tell, there really wasn't even talk of the results.

When I was in the education program at North Park, one of my professors recommended that we all request our educational records from our respective school districts. It was then that I saw the names of the hodge podge of standardized tests I'd taken as early as first grade, and this was long before No Child Left Behind.

I really don't know how I feel about all this testing, all this focus on two very broad subjects (math and reading) and the fact that there is so much pressure on schools, teachers and ultimately, students. Like I said above, I definitely don't know enough or hold the magic answers, but I'd like to think ideally, and that there has to be another way to prove our students wealth of knowledge besides having them fill in the bubbles.

What bugs me most is our kids are ultimately judged by two subjects when there are so many more things that make a student educated. You can be a reading and math genius, but a very ignorant and uneducated person.

There is more to me than my math and reading scores, shouldn't there be more to our children?

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.
Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.
The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they’re caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ‘cause they’re not on the test.
Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You’ll learn there’s a lot that is not on the test.
Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you’re in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.
Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.


Blogger Melissa said...

Don't even get me started on NCLB. Hope Ty did well on his tests - like you, I was (and am) a HORRIBLE test taker. I'm so excited that there are many schools pursuing more creative ways of educating students.

April 16, 2008 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Hi there! Saw you on BlogHer Ads. I am a teacher and NCLB is about to destroy public education. Don't get me started. Teachers are leaving the field because things are getting so out of hand. I teach fourth grade and I am embarrassed to tell the parents all that we have to do in the name of testing.

It sounds like you are in touch with your child and his needs. What a good mama!

April 16, 2008 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Patois said...

The kids take STAR tests in California, starting in a couple of weeks. There is so much pressure on them. I tell them it's not relevant to them at all and they should just treat it as a nice break from the regular regimen of homework every night.

April 17, 2008 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what gets me the most is how they tell kids to get a good night sleep and get a good breakfast only when the state testing comes up. Then they provide you with snacks and a break during come they don't do that throughout the whole year if they want kids to do well? My sophmore year in high school we had state testing and we would schedule it for 3 hours in the morning. On those mornings the freshmen, juniors, and seniors did not have to come to school until the testing time was done with. I see the why for some opitions but they are drawing you out of the environment that you normally take tests and do school work in. So I guess my question is why all the special treatment during state placement tests, don't they want kids doing well all the time???

April 17, 2008 at 10:14 AM  

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