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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 (31-40):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM
1 mom liked this
It is fueling the abuse of ADHD drugs among HS and college students.

Quoting turtle68:

Ive had / have three academics....and all three stress when it comes to tests and exams.  They are straight A students, they love their A's and the thought of being "less" than on a test score is not acceptable in their brain.

The eldest would suffer migraines to the point where he would eat a packet of panadol the week before and during exams.  My 14yo is well on the way to repeating what his brother was like.  In both cases, I went in, grabbed said textbook and work and took them up the street for a movie.  Told them that no test anywhere and anytime is worth a migraine.  Its ok to get a B.  It calms them for a short while...unfortunately I havent figured out how to cure it, hopefully I will before the youngest hits the full on exam years.

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Kmary
by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:43 AM

 Thank you.  I'm 30 weeks pregnant with a sinus infection--that's why I was a bit whiney in that last post.  I'm a high school Spanish teacher by profession, though SAHM for now, and I have a lot of concerns regarding re-entering my field in a few years, despite absolutely LOVING my job.  Luckily, my subject is somewhat removed from a lot of this nonsense, as we currently have no standardized exam in high school languages in my state. 

I'd be happy to expand later when I'm feeling better.  I have a lot of opinions on the subject and have researched it quite a bit.  In short, I think standardized exams are just about the worst things to happen to education in a long, long time.


Quoting MsDenuninani:

 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.

 

 


 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Apr. 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Hopefully we will be in a better place when you are ready to return. Charters and private schools offer teachers more autonomy in the classroom.

Quoting Kmary:

 Thank you.  I'm 30 weeks pregnant with a sinus infection--that's why I was a bit whiney in that last post.  I'm a high school Spanish teacher by profession, though SAHM for now, and I have a lot of concerns regarding re-entering my field in a few years, despite absolutely LOVING my job.  Luckily, my subject is somewhat removed from a lot of this nonsense, as we currently have no standardized exam in high school languages in my state. 


I'd be happy to expand later when I'm feeling better.  I have a lot of opinions on the subject and have researched it quite a bit.  In short, I think standardized exams are just about the worst things to happen to education in a long, long time.




Quoting MsDenuninani:


 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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MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 11:09 AM

 My best friend is a teacher and we've had a lot of discussions about education over the years.  I used to defend standardized tests -- or rather used to defend their use, if not their proliferation - and she disagreed, a lot.

After she had her first child, she went back to teaching middle school so she could see the kids she began teaching graduate.  Then she stayed home with her first, and with her second through their pre-school years, and then decided that if she was going to go back, she would only do so if she could teach the way she wanted.  Right now, she's in the midst of opening up a charter school with a few other educators.  It's pretty cool.

Good luck to you -- I am always happy to hear about teachers who enjoy their job, and I hope that you can go back to a job you love (assuming that's that's what you want to do). 

Quoting Kmary:

 Thank you.  I'm 30 weeks pregnant with a sinus infection--that's why I was a bit whiney in that last post.  I'm a high school Spanish teacher by profession, though SAHM for now, and I have a lot of concerns regarding re-entering my field in a few years, despite absolutely LOVING my job.  Luckily, my subject is somewhat removed from a lot of this nonsense, as we currently have no standardized exam in high school languages in my state. 

I'd be happy to expand later when I'm feeling better.  I have a lot of opinions on the subject and have researched it quite a bit.  In short, I think standardized exams are just about the worst things to happen to education in a long, long time.

 

Quoting MsDenuninani:

 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.

 

 

 

 


 

Lorriane
by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 12:47 PM

These test do not show anything and waste time that could be used to educate the students. 

OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 1:00 PM

 Yes, there is.  I understand testing children to see how they are doing overall and helping educators to see where there may be room to make improvements, but to base funding on those tests makes it more about money and less about the children's education.

Thomigirl
by Gold Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Actually, that's not entirely true. Many entitlement grants are awarded based on low performance or the free and reduced lunch population. 

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Good test scores = federal money. 



JCB911
by Bronze Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 1:56 PM

I've been hearing second grade. That most kids are excied about school until about 2nd grade.  My kids are young and homeschooled but we have public school friends in K and 1st - the 1st grader has already said he hates school when asked why he said b/c learning is boring - he is 6.  Now IMO, no matter what he gets on some standardized test his school is failing him if he is 6 and all he has really learned in school is that learning is boring.  (I proved him wrong BTW,  he was on sping break and joined us for a simple electricity experiment that he was fascinated by.)

I cringe when I hear kids say their favorite part of school is lunch ,recess and gym (which pretty much ever kid says).  They should be excited to learn, at least a little, not go to school just to get through the boring stuff so they can play with their friends on the playground.

Testing is a necessary evil in my mind though (for those in building schools, not homeschoolers).  A test shows the teacher/parents/school board that the kids have learned what they were supposed to, shows them what areas they might need  help in.  Shows principals, school boards, admins where other potential problems are.   If my kid was going to school I'd want to know that their time wasn't wasted - unless you are a super involved parent I think tests show that  - to some degree.


Quoting PamR:

Yes, all the children do is prepare to take tests.  The teachers job performance depends on how well their students test, the school and county funding depends on the tests scores - it's absurd.  There is no room at all for creativity or spontanaity.  There is no fun in learning when the whole curriculum is focused on tests.  I read that somewhere around 4th grade most kids "burn out" on school.  Fourth grade - that leaves eight years, plus college, to go with an attitude that school sucks.  Not good.


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Oddy_Knocky
by on Apr. 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM
Yes, it's the main focus of the whole year and puts a lot of pressure on the kids. I've had to console my youngest daughter because she's so worried about passing "the horrible tests".
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coolmommy2x
by Silver Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 3:19 PM
Just speaking from my experience as a public school mom...no.

Our elementary school doesn't put pressure on the kids at all. In fact, the kids love testing week because they don't get homework those nights. At the first PTO meeting, the principal reviews the scores and explains what they mean. He says the tests show a snapshot of ONE week in the school year. That said, our district always scores very highly, last year our school was #1 in the district (15 elem schools, 5 middle, 3 high).

Next week will be our first time testing at the middle school level. Last year DS rocked the tests so we'll see what this year brings.
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