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Taking the A2K pluse on high stakes, standardized testing in schools

 
 
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 09:02 am
I was reading about how Obama is saying that it's time to roll back the amount of high stakes testing going on in our schools and remembered several discussions we had about it on A2K.

I was opposed to the tests but other than maxdancona and ms. olga, just about everyone else was in favor of them.

In the 4.5 years that Mo has opted out of testing the opt-out movement has really grown so I'm wondering if people on A2K are still in favor of all the standardized testing or if any of you have changed your minds.

What say you A2K? Do you still think they're a good idea?
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Type: Question • Score: 8 • Views: 2,697 • Replies: 57

 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 09:48 am
@boomerang,
I'm not knowledgeable enough to be insistent, but my impression as a reader is that a lot of good teaching is lost to all the teaching to the test business. So - I'm interested in how people would answer now.
0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 10:51 am
@boomerang,
The schools ultimate goal SHOULD be to prepare all students for college. Whether or not that student goes to college is a whole other topic. That's when you start getting into financing, grants, scholarships, and other issues. The school should at least be giving students the mental and academic tools to pursue college. I guess the question is: how can we gauge whether or not our students are being taught what they need to further their education and pursue college? Do we need some type of standardize testing to measure what our students are learning and how well our students are learning? If we don't have some type of standardize testing what other mechanism is available to measure what and how well our students are learning? When a student enters college, that student should have at least the basic knowledge of Sciences, Math, Social Studies, and Reading and Writing on day one. I am not sure where I stand on this issue. I think you have to have some type a test. The test should be modified in a way that really gauges the students detailed INDEPTH knowledge of various subjects. Maybe the current standardize testing doesn't do that. In a way, I think the ACT test should be used in lieu of these other standardize test.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 05:00 pm
@Real Music,
I think I disagree with you, Real Music. I grew up through three elementary schools of the catholic school variety in different states of the US, with individual nuns teaching a large number of students. One was quite a wonder, teaching both 6th and 7th grade in the same room. We had students then who probably had learning disabilities, a matter not explored well in the early fifties, but everybody got listened to, given a raised hand, or without a raised hand, and we all varied. Some of the "dummest" in spelling could be observant or funny, same re math. I was shy beyond reason, and got comfortable as time went by in those classes. We had tests routinely, and routinely went over the answers. I don't remember any national pass this or else tests. Quizzing more than testing, but it happened regularly.

There was a lot of rote learning back then, which I still mostly retain. In my later high school there was indoctrination, which I threw off some time later. But chemistry and biology and math were well taught for those times.

As time has gone on, I've known very well read self taught people with no damned degrees, people with degrees who went into carpentry and their own art. One who became an electrician and wrote books, later went into teaching. The idea that a classroom of, say, 48 students has to all be lead to university ready is, to me, somewhat insane. Creativity isn't all from tested kinds of learning. Creativity is from active interested brains talking. The standard stuff, sure, but levin it with life.

I think there needs to be a mix.

I've been through intense study periods, for example, studying for what were then national landscape architecture boards, a three day test. It was like wrangling godzilla, six months of anxiety. I suppose I'm still for that kind of licensing testing, but I remember the hell of it.

I had an earlier license, as a medical technologist. Back then I just took the test and passed and went out to lunch.

Test fear is, to me, a big problem re plain old interested learning.
Real Music
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 08:58 pm
@ossobuco,
I agree that every student who goes through our school system realistically will not all be ready for college. I do say the school system should strive to get as many of there students as they possibly can ready for college. Although some students may not be college material, the school should at least try their hardest to get them ready for college. If the school doesn't strive to get every student ready for college, that student is being cheated out of a good education. That's not fair to that student. I vaguely remember back in the 1970s when I was in elementary school we did have at least one day within the school year that we all took what appeared to be some type of standardize test. At the time, I was just a elementary school kid. I didn't know why we were taking these test. It was only once a year. I think it was in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. I think one test was Math and another test was English. It was so long ago, some things I remember may not be completely accurate.. I don't remember ever being taught to take the test. I guess it was just a gauge or measurement on our level of learning. From what I remember, the teachers had the freedom to teach the way they thought was best for their student. This annual test had no effect on how the teachers taught. I remember having teachers who genuinely care about us students getting a good education and a grasp of the different subjects. The test we took back in the 1970s didn't really mean anything back then. It was just a gauge.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 09:04 pm
@Real Music,
I know too many thousand who didn't get to city college or just there for a bit, whatever level of knowledge.
Of course I get that some weren't either interested or ready.
Some maybe were.
Real Music
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 09:31 pm
@ossobuco,
I know some people who are college graduates. I know way more people who never attended college. College is not for everybody. We as a society should at least give them the tools they need to go to college. If someone does not want to go to college, let that be his or her choice. At least, if they choose to go to college they would be ready. If the schools prepared them for college, the only thing that would prevent them from attending college would be the finance of attending college. Financing, grants, and scholarships are a whole different topic. BTW, I am not a college graduate. A person does not have to go to college to be successful in life. The topic is what is my view regarding standardize testing.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 09:55 pm
@Real Music,
Which is that you like standardized testing as it is now done?

I'm not knowledgeable about all the tests but I am wary about the apparent emphasis.

chai2
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 10:26 pm
@Real Music,
Real Music wrote:

I do say the school system should strive to get as many of there students as they possibly can ready for college.


I say the school system should strive to get students educated in general, and train them in thinking skills.

By making their primary purpose simply getting them ready for college is not training them for life, for reasoning, for critical thinking. It's producing fodder for the money making machine that college has become.

Real Music
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 10:29 pm
@ossobuco,
The way the standardize tests are used today are greatly flawed with all kinds of problems. The standardize test used today is part of the (No Child Left Behind Law). The way I understand the (No Child Left Behind Law) is that each state creates their own standardize test. There is no national standardize test. One State's standard may be much higher than another State's standard and visa versa. One state's 7th grade reading level standard conceivably may be the same or equal to another State's 5th grade reading level standard. That kind of inconsistency makes these tests worthless. Also the way I understand the (No Child Left Behind Law) is that federal funding is directly tied to the student results of your individual State's standardize testing. My opinion is standardize test can be useful only when a school is using the test as a self evaluation. The test should not be used for anything except for self evaluation of your school. Should not be tied to funding. Should not be tied to teachers salary.
0 Replies
 
Real Music
 
  0  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 10:49 pm
@chai2,
I believe that educating students to get ready for college in many ways synonymous to getting students ready for life. If you are learning math skills to get you ready for college, those same math skills may prove to be important in life. If you learn reading and writing skills to get you ready for college those exact same skills may prove to be very important in life. I can go on and on. History, Government, English, Biology, Chemistry, Algebra, Geometry, Reading comprehension, Geography, Economics, Business, Accounting, Psychology, foreign languages, etc.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  0  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 04:30 am
@boomerang,
I don't know enough about the American system to comment specifically. Lots of tests means you tend to teach to the test, and testing at a young age, (under 10) usually just puts a load of pressure on kids that they don't need at their time of life. It doesn't tend to help.

That's just a general observation.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 06:44 am
@boomerang,
I have never been a fan of standardized testing - in large part my child does not do well on them - but yet, she has a very high gpa and generally does well in school. I've seen kids that have very little common sense that get very high grades on standardized tests.

These sorts of test --- basically test kids on how to take tests, not to learn. My daughter ended up going to Saturday classes given for free by her school so she could learn how to take this test as opposed to actually learning - she was offered this because she got a needs improvement score in math and this is from an A student in math. She did end up improving her score by two a guess the best way to call it - is by two grade levels after taking these Sat. classes.

In addition these types of tests are very stressful for many kids. My daughter is now getting help on dealing with stress in taking tests because so much emphasize is being placed on testing. She goes to class or to a test like a psat or similar and freezes up and overthinks things.

So I would say I am against them. They reward good test takers - not hard working learning students.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:03 am
@Linkat,
One of the challenges of education, especially in math and science, is getting kids out of the mindset of rote learning. Mastering science and math require you to be able to be able to look at things from different perspectives.

When I was teaching Physics, one of my biggest frustrations was that many of the "hard-working", high gpa students were unable to do this. They wanted to study a book and have a set of solutions that they could just plug in new numbers into. They were very good at memorizing solutions from a book... But, I wanted them to be able to use the tools they had to develop their own methods to attack new problems.

If you go into a STEM program in college, the "study hard to learn solutions" method of learning isn't going to take you very far. And, yet in much of high school, including these standardized tests, this is what is rewarded.

As a teacher, I much preferred students with a sense of curiosity, creativity and a does of playfulness with the subject matter to those students who just worked hard. I gave the hard working kids in my classes, who often resisted my attempts to prod them out of their "turn the crank" mentality to learning and life, their A's. But, I felt a little like I was doing them a disservice.

Creativity is more important than hard-work in the STEM fields (and I suspect many other fields as well). The standardized tests emphasis rote and "hard-work" at the cost of creativity and the joy of exploring new ideas.

maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:10 am
@maxdancona,
I encouraged my daughter to opt-out of the standardized tests at her school. She told me, quite confidently, that she wanted to take them. The problem with teaching your children to think for themselves is that sometimes they do.

Miller
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:24 am
@Real Music,
Real Music wrote:

.... the only thing that would prevent them from attending college would be the finance of attending college.


Having funds for College is of course very important. However, what is far more important is finding a College that will accept them . As you may know, many kids would like to attend Harvard, Yale, U of Chicago...etc. But they don't have the educational backgrounds, that would allow them to excell in the above mentioned schools if they were admitted.

Time after time, many American college graduates ( undergraduate schools) apply to Medical, Dental, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Law schools for advanced graduate education. Some are accepted, while many are not.

Of those,who are accepted, some flunk out because of lack of interest and/or lack of ability. Their ability to suceed in a graduate or professional program is strongly related to their ability to study required material and to succesfully pass exams,while in school.

Upon completion of graduate medical and legal programs, which have resulted in their receiving a JD ( law)or an MD in medicine, their ability to perform well on more advanced exams such as the Bar exam ( Law) or the Medical Boards( medicine,pharmacy, nursing etc) will determine, whether they are fit to practice medicine , law, pharmacy, nursing, etc.

It's important for kids to learn how to take tests at any early age, so that they are ready to perform, much later in life, when the really important exams in life must be taken ( Bar, Board exams...etc)

Also important is for students and parents to decide, why a college education may or may not be important for their children. In the US, too many parents ( and their children) think only of the financial rewards of having a College education ( undergrad, grad, or professional).

Few parents and their children ( in my opinion) consider the advantages to higher education, that have nothing to do with either job selection/and or financial benefits following graduation.







engineer
 
  3  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:25 am
I think it is completely reasonable to say "we expect students completing the x th grade to have the following skills" and to test them to see if they do. It is really hard to address problems you don't know you have and they only way you know you have them is to look at the data. That said, the "high stakes" part of the equation is misguided. There are lots of reasons for a lack of performance. Saying school are "failing" because the numbers are low is a gross oversimplification. Unfortunately, it is one that plays well on the evening news. We should identify places where the students are not getting what they need to get and put more resources and efforts there. We should not automatically assume the teachers suck and the administrators need to be fired.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:25 am
Hi all, and thanks for the replies.

The debate really seems to be "what is the purpose of education". Maybe if you think its purpose is to prepare everyone for college then testing makes sense. I want to know that my doctor/lawyer/accountant/other professional has passed a test showing that they understand the material they were taught.

I also don't have a problem with teacher created tests that they use to assess their students. I think, for the most part, teachers are very good at this.

A few years back I listened to a valedictorian speech where the girl talked about how she wasn't really that smart, certainly not smarter than the kids not standing up their speaking, but that she had simply learned how to "do" school. I think we're seeing more of this "do school" mentality - reciting the answers needed to pass a test. I find that worrisome.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:36 am
@engineer,
Quote:
I think it is completely reasonable to say "we expect students completing the x th grade to have the following skills"


There is an obvious problem with this. How do we decide what the "following skills" are?

In Massachusetts, by grade 10 you are expected to be able to find the roots of a quadratic polynomial. I would bet that most adults participating in this discussion couldn't find the roots of a quadratic polynomial. And furthermore, I expect that except for the very few of us in engineering fields, no one has ever suffered or prevented from having a full, enjoyable life from not having this skill.

The worst part is that by focusing on learning the "following skills" you push out the most important part of education... seeing the power and beauty in these ideas.

Last year my daughter was forced (by some ridiculous state standard) to memorize all of the state capitals. A complete waste of her brain space... I couldn't name half of them... and not surprisingly this lack in my skill set has never hurt me.

I would be in favor of a test for creativity, and exploration and the ability to look at things from different perspectives. This is what education should be about... the capital of South Dakota has nothing to do with it.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 07:43 am
@Miller,
Miller,

I want to explore the difference between fields like medicine and law (which focus heavily on rote learning) and fields like math, science and engineering (which focus on creativity and the ability to look at things from various perspectives).

I have never had to take a board test in any of my scientific or engineering jobs (when I got my teaching certificate, I had to take a ridiculous test that included taking a dictation in English). An software engineering interview often involves a very basic test... but the most important involves an interactive discussion in front of one or more people where you solve a problem while the interviewer either comment, challenge or question your ideas. In engineering, ideas and creativity are more important than specific knowledge.

I think medicine (and maybe law) is much more focused on what you know.

I wonder if my ideas on education and testing are biased by my assumption that kids should be prepared for STEM fields.
0 Replies
 
 

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