Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Usually Don't Rant..But....

I can't help myself this time!

I like to think I'm pretty easy-going, don't really get terribly upset over too much. Life is just too short to spend it angry and frustrated. Either fix the problem or let it go. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't work out as easily as that. I believe there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 states that conduct Standardized Achievement testing during the school year. Colorado is one of those states (CSAP testing occurs right before spring break, lasts 2 weeks). I don't believe in standardized testing in general - who in their right mind thinks every kid in the state fits in ONE standard?! More specifically, I don't believe a singular set of tests can or does accurately show or predict how a student is learning. I'm a proponent of show me what you learned and how you will use it. My basic problem with standardized testing is just that - it assumes a standard that every kid should fit in, but of course we know that will just never happen.

Sami is not taking CSAPs at her school - they have a special waiver to opt out all the students and instead use a teaching methodology that provides accountability to academic success, but at the same time prepares the student for success in high school and builds a stronger desire to pursue a college education. Why do we need to a have a specially-designated school (in this case, the district calls this school an Alternative Education Campus) to give our kids what they should be getting in every single school that serves the population? I applaud Boulder County for recognizing the need for a school like this and providing a stop-gap for students that are at a higher risk of dropping out or ending up in the juvenile system for truancy and the related offenses that often seem to accompany a student who habitually skips school - getting into trouble that escalates into serious lapses in judgment and a closer-than-comfortable relationship with the local Police Department.

On Monday when CSAPs started, I read several articles about how Denver Public Schools were out-and-out bribing students to attend school during the CSAP testing window. The bribes ranges from cold hard cash to drawings for flatscreen TVs, X-Box consoles, etc. That's when I started a slow boil over this whole mess. I am thoroughly and completely disgusted. I read the No Child Left Behind legislation and the mandate for standardized testing, and as far as I can tell, the ONLY benefits go to the school district - what's really in it for the students? What do our children gain from 2 weeks of grueling testing, pressured by staff and administrators to attend testing days, weeks prior spent NOT on academic success but teaching for CSAP success? I can tell you from looking at my 13 year old daughter - high stress to the point of throwing up yesterday, diarrhea last night, and tears at the thought of going to school this morning. Britni knows my point of view on testing and she knows that I don't even look at the results, they are meaningless and have no relevance. Even knowing that, the pressure she is feeling is so tremendous she is literally making herself sick.

When we have to issue high dollar bribes to gain participation, something is seriously wrong with our educational process. When did the school become more about ratings and scores than giving our babies a solid foundation for life-long learning? I said earlier, fix the problem or let it go - I'm going to do both. I will be opting Britni out of testing and not look back. We're done.


rdjhedwig said...

I know where you are coming from but it is worse than that in PA. Our kids get standardized testing the same but 3 times a year get the Forsight testing which is the shorter 2 days of this testing. Then if your child does get by on yearly testing if they don't do good on the other they are put in a class for assistance. They get a grant for this class and testing. So if a child can show good performance in class and pass 2 Forsight tests then they don't need this class. And there are no opt outs. The first year we allowed our daughter in this class for one semester soph year and got straight A's. Improved a little on foresights but that was when they only tested 2x a year. So instead of doing band she was in remedial math doing worksheets with a teacher reading. Needless to say after we were told she couldn't get out of this class we switched schools and she is much happier. Ready to go to college next year. My other daughter joined her becuase she is ADHD and school is not her thing its social. I have only used the tests as guides to see what they are not learning in school which is helpful. We should never bring the kids down but bring them up to fill the shoes of wise and noble members of life.sub

Leisa said...

What a great mom you are! I just cannot believe that they are giving away prizes if you come and write exams!! It totally stuns me.
As for the cough, eat a clove of garlic, at least one a day for a few days, much better than an antibiotic, in fact garlic has antibiotic properties in it.
Everyday in every way I feel better and better.;) Leisa Olson