November 24, 2014

This month, a NEW YORK TIMES article, “States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F” by Lisette Alvarez focused on some of the damage constant testing is inflicting on our children:

“Florida embraced the school accountability movement early and enthusiastically, but that was hard to remember at a parent meeting in a high school auditorium here not long ago.

Parents railed at a system that they said was overrun by new tests coming from all levels — district, state and federal. Some wept as they described teenagers who take Xanax to cope with test stress, children who refuse to go to school and teachers who retire rather than promote a culture that seems to value testing over learning. . . .

In Gainesville, one kindergarten teacher, Susan Bowles, explained to parents on her Facebook page that she would refuse to give state-ordered diagnostic reading tests. The kindergartners were obligated to take the tests one by one on a computer. After the first go-round, Ms. Bowles calculated it would eat up three weeks of teaching time.

Her public stance galvanized even more parents and educators. Not long after her posting, Ms. Stewart, the education commissioner, suspended that particular test for younger pupils. Parents and teachers across the state began to air their grievances, detail by detail.

‘The emotional effect on students, teachers and parents has been damaging; the manifestation of sadness and frustration is real,” Mr. Carvalho said of the headlong rush into more tests. “And the state should pay attention to it.’”

This growing opposition to Common Core and standardized testing cuts across both sides of the political divide:

“Progressives’ objections have less to do with Common Core as an idea than with the standardized-testing regime they come with. ‘Our schools have become obsessed with standardized testing, and have turned over to the testing corporations the responsibility for rating, ranking, and labeling our students, our teachers, and our schools,’ said education advocate Diane Ravitch in a speech to the Modern Language Association earlier this year. . . .

Education policy wonks on the right oppose the standards because they view it as a step toward nationalizing education — as a general rule, they prefer to keep control local.” (SALON, “Common Core’s political fiasco: How it united the left and right against it” by Gabriel Arana)

As I’ve posted many times, standardized testing (including Common Core) is a disaster for our children. The intense pressures to perform well; the time spent in memorization of quickly forgotten facts; and, the lost time that should have been spent in learning have all damaged our education system.

Most of all, this required testing regimen has stolen joy from the learning experience we all should have a right to enjoy!

Have a good Thanksgiving holiday. More next Monday – – –

– Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning
(Mondays & Wednesdays)