Are standardized tests really so terrible? - Page 4 - Mothering Forums

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#91 of 94 Old 03-29-2004, 09:32 PM
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No, schools don't provide tutors. It's a funding issue. (Maybe because we're spending millions every year on tests! )Kids with documented disabilities don't get tutors, either. They get accommodations, most of which are up to the teacher to make for the student. Depending on the state, they may also get time in a resource room with a special ed teacher. Unless their disability is severe enough to warrant a self-contained program, that is.

Examples of accommodations to help students with learning disabilities:
-- Extended time on tests/assignments
-- Modification of materials
-- Change in text
-- Having tests read to them
-- Multiple repetitions of directions
-- Being able to dictate answers to an adult
-- Being able to use calculators on math problems
-- Being able to use a word processor instead of hand writing something
-- Assisted note taking (having another student do this)
-- Small group setting for tests
-- Alternative test format (having only five problems/questions per page, say.)
-- Reduction in number/length of assignments
-- Preferential seating
-- Etc.

In some schools (those with a lack of funding), it is up to an individual classroom teacher to make all of these accommodations for a student. She must find time to sit with one student and read them the test in a small group setting, etc. All of these accommodations are fine, it's just that the gov't isn't willing to provide money to help schools make these accommodations. And when a teacher has 150 students (one year I had 180), it is very hard to make all of these for every child with documented need. I have had one class with nine students who all had many accommodations and who all needed preferential seating. Unfortunately, I don't have that many front row seats.

Here is what has happened with the standardization of American education and the focus on student test scores. People figure the high-achieving students will do well regardless of what happens (stupid, I know). (There is no money for gifted education.) So you have Herculean efforts to bring up the bottom third of students to passing level, and you have the ignoring of gifted and more average students. You have the bottom end of the curve being brought up, but you also have the top end of the curve being brought down. We are creating schools where each and every student -- yours included -- will be entitled to a mediocre education.
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#92 of 94 Old 03-29-2004, 09:48 PM
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Originally posted by daylily
I'm sure it is noticed, but the child is promoted to the next grade anyway. The infamous "social promotion."

In our district, kids are held back--usually in kindergarten--and yet some still slip through the cracks and end up as very poor readers. I know there's a child in dd's second grade class who reads at a kindergarten level. And one of the second grade teachers vented at a parent/teacher/school board forum that she has a class full of below-grade readers that she must get up to grade level by the end of the year.

Edited to add that the principal at the Upper Elementary (grades 5 & 6) told me that "if kids can't read well by fifth grade, there's not much you can do for them." At first, I didn't react very strongly to that statement, but as I think about it more, I realize what an outrageous thing it is to say. What, has no one ever learned to read after the age of 10? If the principal of a school has given up on kids who don't read well, then he sends the message to his teachers that it's not worth making an effort for these kids.
I think the principal was speaking statistically. It's true that if you don't catch a child by a certain age, statistically speaking they are far less likely to be successful in school. Just as if a baby doesn't develop a healthy attachment to an adult within a certain time frame, it becomes very difficult to do so in the future.

There are probably few fourth grade teachers who think, "Oh, that Johnny's just not worth helping. Forget him." But teachers and schools don't have the tools they need to give kids real help.

Have you been following the social promotion issue in NYC? Apparently, something like 3,000 third graders didn't pass the reading test. Michael Bloomberg said, "Fine. The kids will stay back a year so they can relearn the info."

There's been a HUGE public outcry. HUGE. Parents are up in arms. The schoolboard is up in arms. I heard an interview with the schoolboard president decrying this move, saying that all the evidence shows that retaining students actually leads to them dropping out of school in the future, doesn't bring up test scores, etc.

And again, is it the fault of the hundreds of third grade teachers?
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#93 of 94 Old 03-29-2004, 10:08 PM
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I went to middle school with a boy who was in 6th grade, but was supposed to be in 8th. Then after 6th grade he was just moved over to the high school. He was considered "too old" to be at the middle school. He did not do well in high school and ended up becoming the classic dropout who worked at McDonald's.

It shouldn't be necessary to flunk a grade in the first place. I'm sure academic struggles are not suddenly uncovered at the end of the year; the child probably has a hard time all year. Why is it acceptable that the child will just have no one to help him if he can't get the material in the traditional classroom setting? Why is extra help seen as a frill that schools just can't afford right now? If the school said "We can't afford to do background checks anymore" or "We can't afford chairs; students have to bring their own which they can lug to every class" the public would be outraged. I think extra help should be seen as a basic necessity.
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#94 of 94 Old 03-29-2004, 11:28 PM
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I agree that extra help should be seen as a necessity. However, I have worked in a middle class school that had no hot water, no soap, no toilet paper, and no textbooks. So tutors are seen as optional because the public's perception is that the teachers should be doing their job.

Also keep in mind that if I get a 10th grader who reads incredibly poorly, there is little that I can personally do to rectify that. As one teacher, I cannot singlehandedly make up for the years of reading instruction that he missed. The same is true of every other teacher.
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