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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 (41-50):
by Ruby Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 4:01 PM

You do have to do some amount of testing, but it's ridiculous now.  Not to mention not all kids test well, so they may be very bright and capabie, but they don't do well on tests.  The cookie cutter approach doesn't serve the students or schools, in my opinion.

Quoting JCB911:

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.

by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 4:21 PM
This might be a stupid question, but if a child is homeschooled, does he or she have to take this test or something similar?
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by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 4:23 PM

I do, testing isn't everything....there should be more focus on teaching the kids and quality instruction.

by Bronze Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 4:29 PM
Yes! They teach to the test, that is all schools can focus on anymore cuz better scores means more money. That's such crap if you ask me! The lower score schools are who need the more money.
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by Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM
1 mom liked this

I can understand the testing scandals happening and happening more often. Teachers jobs are tied to those tests. Techers teach kids to pass these tests but the kids are not learning what they need to go on to be successful in the world in general let alone college or in the global work market. My 9th graders have been tested twice this year and there is another one coming up before school is out in 2.5 months. As a country we used to be high in the ranking of countries that had some of the best educated people and now emerging countries rank close to us and they have only been concentrating on education for a few years. We test and test and test some more with out teaching anything. Stop testing so much and teach what the kids need to learn.

by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 6:56 PM

It was a move solely to preserve funding and receive bonuses.  Who gives a rip about the kids?

Greed, plain and simple. 

by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 6:57 PM

 No, but most I know test yearly anyway on national tests (IOWA Basic, SAT, ACT etc), in order to keep apprised of weak areas. 

Quoting Kimberlynn:

This might be a stupid question, but if a child is homeschooled, does he or she have to take this test or something similar?


by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM

 Hope you feel better.  I used to get sinus infections all the time, and then I started using a couple of drops of high quality colloidal silver (Health food store) in my throat and sometimes nose a couple of times a day, and I don't take antibiotics for it anymore.  Just thought I'd share.

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.






by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 7:02 PM

 That sounds awful, and I have great testers.

But still, I enjoy hearing about that kid in my son's history class who is a senior who does not test well, but makes the most fabulous arguments for various issues regularly.

There should be credit for that!  And I hope he is getting it!  In fact...I might drop a little note to the teacher (I know him pretty well). 

Quoting btamilee:

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 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. 


by Platinum Member on Apr. 3, 2013 at 7:04 PM

 Wow...nothing like that kind of pressure on kids!  If she said it to you, she said it to them. 

Quoting carlyshort:

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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