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Do you think there's too much pressure on school testing?

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Largest School Test-Cheating Scandal in History Failed Our Kids the Most

by Adriana Velez 

pencilsDoes anyone else feel like all that relentless testing we make our kids do isn't making them any smarter or better educated? If you don't feel that way now, the latest testing scandal might change your mind. A whopping 35 schools are accused of tampering with test scores in Atlanta, Georgia. It's the biggest school cheating scandal in U.S. history. The adults sold out the kids.

Back in 2008, two reporters for the Atlanta Journal Constitution thought an elementary school's amazing test scores sounded too good to be true. So they started investigating ... and the scandal grew larger and larger, involving teachers, administrators, and even politicians. Under insane pressure, adults in charge of educating children allegedly tampered with test papers and then lied to cover it all up.

The investigation led to a grand jury indictment that starts at the top: Reportedly, Superintendent Beverly Hall pressured principals, who in turn pressured teachers. Hall ended up collecting $580,000 in performance bonuses and was named "Superintendent of the Year" thanks to the amazing progress students seemed to be making on test scores. But really, what she did was "created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education."

And that's the worst part of this scandal -- it hurt the kids. Instead of focusing on helping kids learn, educators were gaming the tests. And the tests failed to do what they were designed to do: Testing is supposed to reveal how well kids are learning.

If test scores are low, that could mean a school needs help. It could be more resources, or new teachers, or a different curriculum. But if you're tampering with test scores, you'll just hide failing or struggling schools. Cheating totally defeats the purpose!

I think what this scandal reveals is how much it's thrown our priorities out of whack. We've put too much pressure on kids and teachers to show improvement and perform well on paper. And in the end, I'm not convinced kids are getting a better education. I hope this scandal rocks the educators and parents so hard that we all start demanding change. Stop with the insane testing pressure and re-think all those rewards. It's time to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better way to assess student competency.

Do you think there's too much pressure on school testing?

by on Apr. 2, 2013 at 2:39 PM
Replies (21-30):
LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Apr. 2, 2013 at 8:36 PM

As long as you stay out of the public system, there's a lot more flexibility... and some states are far worse than others.

Quoting jeweldragons:

Yes I do.  This makes me not want to teach in U.S.A. even though I plan on going back to school for Early Childhood Education.


momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 11:06 PM

I think too much emphasis is put on testing, and too many teachers are pressured to teach to the test.  I think there must be better ways to gauge student performance.  Students in my school system spend too much time taking standardized tests, IMO, rather than in the classroom learning various subjects.   


btamilee
by Silver Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 7:06 AM

I have mixed feelings about the testing.  But....I can say that I hate the new standard based grading system that our high school uses.  Its is AWFUL.  The only grades that count are test/quiz grades.  No grading for homework or classroom participation.  So...if you aren't a great when it comes to tests and quizes....you are screwed, even if you do your homework every single day.  Next year...they will go from regular grades to a 1-4 system (which I also do not like).  They are teaching these children to TEST, not to be responsible young adults who have to actually take steps to get to the test (ie homework).  They keep telling the parents that is set up to help them adjust to college, but I think it is setting them up to be.....lazy. 

Kmary
by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 7:18 AM

Yes tests are given for those reasons.  Sadly, standardized tests do not measure hardly any of those things.  They are not educationally sound.  Period.


Quoting happy2bmom25:


tests are given for many reasons. are the teaching methods effective? is the child growing? how does the child compare to others, in the school, the county, the state, the world. weather my kids have a high "intellect" or not, i still expect them to obtain a competitive level of knowledge.

Quoting Aslen:

Absolutely!!!!!!! A TEST does not measure intellect.





Kmary
by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 7:30 AM
5 moms liked this

There is so much wrong with standardized testing that I don't even know where to begin and am not sure I have the time or energy to even begin to talk about it all.  But here are a few things:

1.  Contrary to what the media keeps feeding us, the US is NOT behind all other countries academically.  If we removed stats for children with learning disabilities or who receive any sort of extra help or special educaiton services (the way EVERY OTHER COUNTRY DOES) we would be at or near the top in every single subject.  That is just plain fact.   The philosphy of the American education system is one of inclusion and as such, is quite distinct from the way every other country runs their schooling.  Also, the countries with the longest school days and highest academic outcomes also have the highest levels of teen suicide of anywhere on the planet.  There is a cost associated with all that rigorous curriculum and too many hours with their butts in their seats preparing for an exam.

2.  Texas was the first state to implement large encompassing standardized testing.  Their high school dropout rate immediately surged.  I'm sure I need not explain why a place filled with high school dropouts is not a good place to be.

3.  Standardized tests assess one thing and one thing only:  a student's ability to take a test (aka follow directions basically).  They can not assess curriculum, a teacher's teaching ability, a student's intellect, the appropriateness of the material covered, critical thinking skills, creativity and on and on. 

I fear for our future filled with a generation of people who can regurgitate iinformation and follow basic directions, but can't even begin to analyze or think critically about said information.

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 8:56 AM
1 mom liked this



Quoting momtoscott:

I think too much emphasis is put on testing, and too many teachers are pressured to teach to the test.  I think there must be better ways to gauge student performance.  Students in my school system spend too much time taking standardized tests, IMO, rather than in the classroom learning various subjects.   


My MIL is retiring this year but she never gave tests or homework. She always said if kids couldn't complete the work in class, they didn't need it. She taught 5th grade science and just taught what children should be learning. Her students scored extremely high in the area because they understood the concepts and just didn't memorze bunch of facts. 


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:12 AM
1 mom liked this
Yes. Elliot Eisner once said that standardized testing was the hubcaps on the vehicle of education. They look pretty but serve no functional purpose.

And this man knows what he is talking about.
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mamavalor
by on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Yes, I do.  While teachers stress over them with their students and the school board stresses over them with the schools, I tell my kids not to worry.  These tests are just a snap shot of what they think one ought to know.  They don't factor in all the other stuff one knows.  And like Goldie Hawn's character, Annie in Overboard, "...And you can sit here and smugly lecture me on the importance of tests? Tests which label children's potential - a thing which cannot possibly be measured! Least of all by anal-compulsive Huns!...I think that they're bright and sensitive. So I have no doubts whatsoever about their intelligence! I do, however, have serious doubts about yours!"

carlyshort
by on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:29 AM
State tests are next week. In preparation, my kid hasn't had homework in over two weeks. The work they're doing now is relearning old stuff.

I think it is ridiculous.

At the parent meeting the teacher actually said my job is in your child's hands.
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MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:34 AM
1 mom liked this

 Really great points.  I wish you did have the time/energy because you're making a lot of sense.


Quoting Kmary:

There is so much wrong with standardized testing that I don't even know where to begin and am not sure I have the time or energy to even begin to talk about it all.  But here are a few things:

1.  Contrary to what the media keeps feeding us, the US is NOT behind all other countries academically.  If we removed stats for children with learning disabilities or who receive any sort of extra help or special educaiton services (the way EVERY OTHER COUNTRY DOES) we would be at or near the top in every single subject.  That is just plain fact.   The philosphy of the American education system is one of inclusion and as such, is quite distinct from the way every other country runs their schooling.  Also, the countries with the longest school days and highest academic outcomes also have the highest levels of teen suicide of anywhere on the planet.  There is a cost associated with all that rigorous curriculum and too many hours with their butts in their seats preparing for an exam.

2.  Texas was the first state to implement large encompassing standardized testing.  Their high school dropout rate immediately surged.  I'm sure I need not explain why a place filled with high school dropouts is not a good place to be.

3.  Standardized tests assess one thing and one thing only:  a student's ability to take a test (aka follow directions basically).  They can not assess curriculum, a teacher's teaching ability, a student's intellect, the appropriateness of the material covered, critical thinking skills, creativity and on and on. 

I fear for our future filled with a generation of people who can regurgitate iinformation and follow basic directions, but can't even begin to analyze or think critically about said information.


 

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