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HATE the emphasis put on standardized testing at our elem school

Discussion in 'Parents Off Topic' started by DsMom, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. DsMom

    DsMom Approved members

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    I'm looking to see how this is handled at other schools. It seems that all the teachers have been doing for MONTHS is preparing these kids for the PSSAs (Pennsylvania's standardized test). They are NOT learning anything new--just pounding the stuff that's going to be on the test into their heads. Even when they learned new stuff at the beginning of the year--they skipped any topic that was not on the PSSAs! I can't remember the last time my daughter had Science class and, when she did, they were doing something called "Too Good for Drugs" for weeks!!! I certainly see the importance of something like this--but in SCIENCE class?? No wonder U.S. kids are falling behind in science. Anyway, now science has been replaced by additional PSSA prep time.

    My daughter, who is extremely bright and has a hard time staying challenged in school in the first place, was literally in tears last night thinking about having to endure more boring PSSA prep. Thankfully, the test starts this week--and goes on for 3 weeks (she is in 5th grade)! But they have lost a good few months of learning NEW things to this review. I understand how important these tests are to a school's funding--but what about our kids' educations?? There was NEVER this type of prep when I was in elem school. (Granted, that WAS in the Dark Ages.:p)

    I feel so helpless. I know that contacting the principal will be useless and will not result in change. The school is concentrating on their funding--but sacrificing our kids.

    What is standardized testing prep like in your schools/states??
     
  2. Becky Stevens mom

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    Yeah, its awful:( When I explain this to people I use my older son as a example. He is extremely bright, has been identified as gifted and is always an honor student. The summer before he started 7th grade we were discussing Canada and he said, "thats one of the 50 states right?" He honestly thought it was. I dont think any teacher had gone over the states with him in elementary school. They were always too busy getting ready for those stupid tests!:mad: And the tests dont really show the information that the schools need to provide a better education for our kids. Kids learn in different ways. I think its an awful mistake expecting all of them to do the same test and do well on it.
     
  3. mocha

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    All the alphabet soup tests I had to take back in high school and middle school were a royal pain in the butt.

    I remember my teachers doing the exact same thing and I would be bored out of my wits.

    I've lived through high school and completed most of my BS by now, and I'm comparing what I did to what my younger brother is doing...and I'm honestly frightened for when I have children.
     
  4. Traci

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    Our kids are in the same boat. The Texas version (TAKS) seemingly requires the same drill that you have described. From Christmas on, relentless cramming takes place. Teachers are coming in early and staying late to work with any child who is struggling. My son, who had a 99 average in math, was even "tutored" before school for a month--just to ensure he knew it. Once the tests are over in April, the school year is, in effect, over. It's just crazy.

    Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the prep involved to get the physical school building ready. In our district, EVERY single surface with a letter or number must be covered before the tests. Classroom walls are draped with sheets or bulletin board paper. Restroom signs are covered. Teacher name plates are covered. We have a mural in the hallway that depicts the voyage of Columbus. The sails of his ships had crosses on them. The crosses had to be covered because they resembled "t's". Honestly. The kids snacks must be in plain ziplock bags. This year, they had to eat lunch in the classroom instead of going to the cafeteria. And no one is admitted into
    the building for any reason. It's just crazy.

    With all the funding shortfalls, I'd love to know how much this testing costs!
     
  5. BrendaK

    BrendaK Neonatal Diabetes Registry

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    I have some piano students that came to their lessons last week with Tshirts that said "ROCK THE ISATS" (ISATs are IL standardized tests)

    Could not believe their school had Tshirts made. And a pep rally. Sheesh.....
     
  6. Flutterby

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    Science is taking a bit hit in schools.. our school has to fit in science during review weeks. They are HUGE on literacy.
     
  7. hdm42

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    same here. I find it very frustrating that they focus so much on these standardized test.
     
  8. Sarah Maddie's Mom

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    It's a big deal here for 3-4 weeks, but the rest of the year it's not an issue. And I think the test prep and testing only take that long because they only give one CMT a day so that the kids don't get "fatigued" :rolleyes: ( read, so that the town's scores are as high as possible:cwds:)
     
  9. MissEmi

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    Thankfully, there is a science TAKS every couple of years, so it doesn't takes as big a hit here as it does other places.
    I guess that is the good thing about TAKS, there are a couple of years where it hits all the subjects. It's just as Traci described it. A big cram session from Dec-April, and then, playtime. Unless you have really awesome teachers. Which is rare.
     
  10. dejahthoris

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    One test a year would be enough. It should take less than an hour. Some super smart kids do not test well, but it might give an idea to the school as to how they are doing. What we have now is insane and it is a testament to our collective ineffectiveness at getting together and changing things. Every Admin and teacher and parent and student I have ever spoken to HATES the CRCT's yet we still do them. It's insane how todays educational system encourages obedience to authority over innovation. Yet everyone who made a difference on this planet from Akhenaton to Jesus to Sojourner Truth to Rosa Parks to Einstein was a rebel in his time.
     
  11. selketine

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    Funny that you mention Akenaton ... I see him discussed so rarely on the forum these days.;)

    (sorry - I couldn't resist - being an egyptian history buff)

    What I've found a bit more disconcerting this year is that my older son had a mid-term test (given in all county schools in his grade for kids taking this class) and his teacher had literally not covered all of the previous unit - but he was tested over it. His grade was ok (a B) so I didn't complain - but it is puzzling how they could give a test over material not covered and expect them to know it.

    On the middle school level I can't tell much difference - or that they spend a lot of time teaching to the state test. They seem to have units they have to cover for the subject so they keep on teaching those rather than stopping and doing test review. For elementary school, it almost seems toned down compared to a few years ago. No pep rallies, etc.

    I think the teacher's and administration dislike having so much ride on these tests scores - yet everyone wants accountability and there has to be some way to measure what is learned. I think it is the "teaching to the test" that we all dislike so much.
     
  12. Beach bum

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    Too huge IMO. Our district put such an emphasis on literacy that math was just about swept under the table. As a result, we are a district in need of improvement. Scary as we are one of the most affluent towns in the state, and school wise, once one of the best. Now, it's just ok.

    We have testing through out the month of Oct. for the NE level, then in the spring for the state level (this is what really tells what the kids have learned in the past year).

    So this is a couple of weeks where the schedules are all off, it's generally review, little or now homework is assigned. Now, my daughter was picked recently to take some other standardized test that was a random thing, kids were pulled from a computer generated list. 3 hours where she was testing, her twin got to play Jeopardy in class because so many of the kids from the team were pulled in. Again, a no learning, little review, no homework day.

    So, I am not a big fan of the testing. I think one is more than enough a year.
     
  13. DsMom

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    Well, Rachel was much happier going off to school today since the tests are starting. I promised her we'd do something fun with her best friend this weekend to give her something to look forward to.

    I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my frustration--but I wish there was something I could do. Maybe I will send an email to the principal anyway. I know nothing will come of it--but I just feel I should say something for my kids' sake. It is such a large chunk of learning time they are missing.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  14. GinaB

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    The tests are a major problem here in Texas. They teach the kids 'strategies' for math that completely ruin any skills a capable student has. In 3rd grade my daughter could do all her adding and multiplying easily in her head. They started teaching for the tests and made each student no matter how bright do the silly work to the side if each question (3x10 would have to show three boxes with ten dots each etc). This was really hard for her and started losing some of her skills

    my son learned this weird math with lucky 7s and stuff. My husband and I couldn't even help him with his work. We had to spend the summer before middle school teaching him how to multiply and divide properly. A 6th grade teacher said to do this because they used real math and the kids who learned the other didn't have their facts memorized and didn't know how to do the work the standard way

    after TAKS are done everyone jokes that it is movie time for the rest of the year!
     
  15. hrermgr

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    Our girls go to a parochial school and while standardized tests are given, they don't put an emphasis on them everyday in the classroom. The school openly states that they teach to the child not to the test. I would be frustrated if I were in your situation, too. Yes, kids need to pass tests but I think it's wrong to make the test the focus of their education.
     
  16. colebenmom

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    I am going to respond as both a teacher and a parent because I really feel that I am torn in my opinions on the matter.

    As a teacher, I see some teachers focus on IStep review/prep leading up to the tests(Indiana's standardized tests), we have purchased software to help students that they use during computer lab time and there is an overall feeling of pressure for students to pass the test.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot riding on passing these tests brought on by the state, passed on to administration and then passed on to the teachers. There is too much tied to passing the test. All of our third graders (coming soon - a recently passed law) will have to pass the test at grade level or have to be retained. The merit pay for teachers idea is tied to the results of standardized test.

    As a parent, I witnessed Benjamin take his first round of these tests. Of course, his sugars were in the 300's and 400's that day (nerves possibly) and he came home seriously thinking that he would be in third grade again next year because he wouldn't pass. It was heartbreaking. My daughter has come home with 10 page review packets for the test. Really??? Two or four pages isn't enough? If she doesn't know it a week before the test, are ten pages of IStep review going to help her?

    I guess, I feel like there really isn't anything wrong with some review and letting the kids know that the tests are to be taken seriously (without freaking them out). As a teacher, if you are doing your job and teaching the state standards, then there really isn't a point to cramming in a bunch of review the weeks leading up to the tests. Most teachers I know would take the emphasis OFF of these tests given the choice.

    JMHO
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  17. Gomod71

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    Our school is K-8 in one building but they are two separate "schools". In Elementary school (K-4) I didn't see as much prep as I do in our Middle School.

    My poor son has been in tears over it all - the Middle School teachers put so much emphasis on the tests, and spend (it seems) the entire school year prepping for it. They teach to the tests - after the testing is gone it seems like the teachers are in auto-pilot mode for the remainder of the school year.

    I cannot begin to explain what a difference I've seen just from grade 4 to grade 5. My son is a good student and he is positively stressed over it. :mad:
     
  18. dejahthoris

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    You can help with that. Tell him the tests are just a formality and not to stress over them. Tell him to just make sure he does not leave any blank. And always go with his first instinct as far as which answer is correct. Statistically, those two things will help him huge amount to do well. It is not right for a kid to be stressing over these tests. CRCT's are more of a test for the school than the child anyway. I think they do better when they are not stressed over the test. I have been a Mom since 1978 and in the grand scheme of things and in one's life story this is nothing that really matters to their success in life in the long run. Things have changed so much since my eldest kids were little. Children are under way, WAY, too much stress and pressure these days. It's really sickening!
     
  19. DsMom

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    I was hoping a teacher would respond!:) I understand that the amount of prep time is not really under the teachers' control--and I'm not even sure about the principal. Which is why I feel so helpless--there is no one to really complain to!! My daughter is so bright and is always eager to learn new things. This repetition day after day has just really brought her down. She never complained about going to school but, during this prep time, she complains almost every day and, as I said, was in tears about it a few days ago. It's such a waste and so disheartening to see enthusiastic, excited learners with great potential wasted like this. Our school wastes MONTHS!! Now, she'll go onto 6th grade with that missing time under her belt instead of education.:(
     

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