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#1 of 18 Old 03-02-2014, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm interested in hearing any thoughts on the subject.  I'm wondering what kind of attitude I should take towards discussing scores with my children.  The school gives the children their scores, so they know where they stand.  My kids are pretty average.  I always had astronomically high scores as a kid and it made me feel good.  I wonder if being average or slow affects their self-esteem? 


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#2 of 18 Old 03-02-2014, 01:36 PM
 
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My kids have high scores but we continued to dismiss them. Those tests evaluate teacher's and what is presented in the classroom more than they gauge what a student has learned. My kids scores come through the mail and I just file them without saying anything. If they ask, sure, they can see them. My eldest already puts enough pressure on herself and test scores tend to drive her into a perfectionist tizzy. My DS tends to compare himself to his big sister and so would freak out if his score was lower than one of hers which was silly as they are 4 grades apart. So, we downplay the importance prior and don't acknowledge the scores when they come in. In fact, now that I think of it, DS never got his scores for last Spring... oh well.


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#3 of 18 Old 03-02-2014, 06:57 PM
 
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Our DC's schools has always done a nice job of discussing scores. My DC knows that the tests are intended to evaluate the education she's getting -- not to evaluate her, if that makes sense. My DC also gets fairly average scores. There have been years that she got below average and years where she was above.  I think the important thing is to discuss them by their intention -- which is to evaluate education received. And to discuss that they are extraordinarily limited in their scope. They only test a very small portion of what sort of learner each child is. 

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#4 of 18 Old 03-06-2014, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, this is interesting.  Their scores are individualized.  They are given a score, and then a goal for the next test.  It's different from what they had when I was in school. 


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#5 of 18 Old 03-06-2014, 08:05 PM
 
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In our state scores are more a measure of the teacher's than of the kids because they are used for nothing as far as kids go. It was nice to know that despite my dd's low grades she scores as advanced in language arts and reading and proficient in math.

I don't think being average is a bad thing so I try not to get hung up on average grades and scores. There are so many paths a child can choose, so many community colleges and state universities that take almost anyone, that getting excited or disappointed in grades that are passing makes no sense to me. I worry more about work habits, happiness in school, and reading skills.
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#6 of 18 Old 03-07-2014, 03:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, I like what you said, One_Girl.  I just had a conversation with my kids about the fact that all the people I know who are really, really good at something got that way because they had a personal interest in the topic.  They took it upon themselves to learn about the subject, practice, read books about it, etc.  I warned my kids not to depend on the school to teach them everything.  And we talked about all the things they already know or are good at that they didn't learn in school.  Then we went to the library.  reading.gif


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#7 of 18 Old 03-07-2014, 05:12 AM
 
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So, this is interesting.  Their scores are individualized.  They are given a score, and then a goal for the next test.  It's different from what they had when I was in school. 

Our kids are given their score (by way of a letter mailed home to the family home). It gives them their ranking among their school and then the state. They are not given any goals for next year. Do you know if the goals are from your school as an incentive?  I know that for testing an important measure is advancing kids from previous scores is important in the world of high-stakes testing. Sounds like your school may be trying to lay some of the expectations for improvement on the kids rather than on the school/teachers. My attitude would be that goals for improving education are fine, great, good - but those benchmarks are for teachers to focus on - not the learners.  I'd be asking about that if this were my district. 


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#8 of 18 Old 03-08-2014, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Our kids are given their score (by way of a letter mailed home to the family home). It gives them their ranking among their school and then the state. They are not given any goals for next year. Do you know if the goals are from your school as an incentive?  I know that for testing an important measure is advancing kids from previous scores is important in the world of high-stakes testing. Sounds like your school may be trying to lay some of the expectations for improvement on the kids rather than on the school/teachers. My attitude would be that goals for improving education are fine, great, good - but those benchmarks are for teachers to focus on - not the learners.  I'd be asking about that if this were my district. 


We are not told about the student's ranking against their class or state.  So I think that's a good thing.  My kids' teachers are not lazy, they are good teachers, so I don't think that the goal-setting is unfair.  They do testing twice a year.  I think the goals are a good motivator.  When you are told your rank compared to everyone else, that seems like a static, unchanging trait that is easy to internalize.  "I'm smart, or I'm not smart."  But when they tell you a number with no other context "123" and then give you the context of your goal for next time, "Can you score 133?" that seems like a reachable goal.  And there's nothing to internalize like "I'm in the 90th percentile, or I'm in the 43rd percentile."  You're only competing against yourself, and they can have the satisfaction of seeing a higher score next time. 

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#9 of 18 Old 03-08-2014, 06:53 AM
 
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Fair enough! Lots of different ways to think about testing.  I think the way scores are distributed are set by the district (and maybe even the state) where I live.  I see your point about the best measure of a child is how they measure their own learning. I think that's a great way to think about how scores are distributed in your area/school. 

 

Because I prefer to think of testing as an evaluation of the education students are receiving (and therefore a somewhat passive event for kids), I would not personally like to see students internalize benchmarks for improvement but I do see your point for sure.  

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#10 of 18 Old 03-11-2014, 05:14 PM
 
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 Sounds like your school may be trying to lay some of the expectations for improvement on the kids rather than on the school/teachers. My attitude would be that goals for improving education are fine, great, good - but those benchmarks are for teachers to focus on - not the learners.  I'd be asking about that if this were my district. 

 

I disagree -- two kids with the same teacher can learn VERY different amounts depending on what they each put into it. If one child misses a lot, doesn't do homework, and doesn't focus during learning times they will get a different result than a child who does their best to be there, comes prepared, and does their best to spend their time at school learning. Your child isn't a passive receptacle for the teacher to fill with skills and knowledge. If they have even a half way decent teacher, then a chunk of what they get out of school is about what they put into it.

 

We've stayed low key about both standardized test scores and grades. My kids are very different people, and these sorts of measures show that. An average score means that "you are doing just fine."  As they've gotten older, we talked more about how scoring is done, cut scores, normed scored etc. What talked about what they mean and what they don't mean, and why they are important, their limits, etc.

 

I'm quite sure that for students who struggle, these scores are very difficult to handle. I work with special needs children, so I spend my days with children who fear they just aren't bright enough. Partly because of that, I feel strongly that ANY child who is doing "average" is doing just fine. Depending on the test and how it is scored, your child's average score may be higher than your high score many years ago -- the tests and scoring have changed.

 

Ultimately, most people's success comes down to how hard they work, which is often linked to finding something they are passionate about. For average or bright kids, installing a sense of hardwork is most likely a lot more important than scores/grades.


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#11 of 18 Old 03-11-2014, 06:25 PM
 
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I disagree -- two kids with the same teacher can learn VERY different amounts depending on what they each put into it. If one child misses a lot, doesn't do homework, and doesn't focus during learning times they will get a different result than a child who does their best to be there, comes prepared, and does their best to spend their time at school learning. Your child isn't a passive receptacle for the teacher to fill with skills and knowledge. If they have even a half way decent teacher, then a chunk of what they get out of school is about what they put into it.

 

I do agree about that when it comes to learning. I'm not sure I agree when it comes to the purpose of standardized testing. I would not be at all comfortable with my DC getting benchmarks related to standardized tests. Benchmarks for learning, for getting work done, for getting to school, paying attention, being prepared, yes, but not ST. To me it's the difference of what the student should have their eye on and ST scores shouldn't be it, IMO.  


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#12 of 18 Old 03-11-2014, 08:42 PM
 
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 I would not be at all comfortable with my DC getting benchmarks related to standardized tests. Benchmarks for learning, for getting work done, .  

 

Here, both the standardized testing and all class work are based on the state standards. Text books are aligned with the standards, and every lesson plan a teacher writes must reference what standard it addresses. The standardized test is over those same standards, so they are a measure of how well students are doing with what they are being taught.

 

This could vary by state.


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#13 of 18 Old 03-12-2014, 04:53 AM
 
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Here, both the standardized testing and all class work are based on the state standards. Text books are aligned with the standards, and every lesson plan a teacher writes must reference what standard it addresses. The standardized test is over those same standards, so they are a measure of how well students are doing with what they are being taught.

 

This could vary by state.

Yes, in that case - I'd be more likely to feel that attaching benchmarks to testing is sending a message to kids that the ultimate goal is to learn (not to do well on tests).  Ideally, I'd still like to hear teachers/admins talk about benchmarks in terms of actual learning objectives but I can see where you're coming from. 


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#14 of 18 Old 03-12-2014, 07:21 AM
 
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We have pretty much been relaxed about it. Kids can see what they got if they want, but they haven't been too interested. I usually hand them to DH, who is a teacher and actually understands the results, he says fine, and they go in a file for a while. The kids are a bit stressed during testing week (and the sporadic times throughout the year other assessments are given), so frankly, we handle that with treats - milkshakes, relaxing with a movie, special dinner, taking over their chores, etc.

 

This year, though, DD1 is in 8th grade, and her classes for high school were partly decided based on test scores, including one called EXPLORE by the ACT people where in part of it they ask a set of questions about interests & then give career suggestions! A mite early, you might say, but food for thought nonetheless. One field was right up DD1's alley, but another wasn't really, so it will be interesting to see if she develops an interest in it. We're pretty much regarding that part as no more than essentially a party game or curiosity. In general, as others said, we are trying to emphasize personal interests and learning over test scores.

 

PS When I was a kid, I scored highly and always felt good about that. Maybe too good. It's always been a struggle for me to de-link learning/achievement/success from external recognition, but I am trying hard to do that for the sake of my kids.


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#15 of 18 Old 03-12-2014, 07:23 AM
 
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 I worry more about work habits, happiness in school, and reading skills.

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with this, plus I would add finding a passion or passions in life.


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#16 of 18 Old 03-12-2014, 08:35 AM
 
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This year, though, DD1 is in 8th grade, and her classes for high school were partly decided based on test scores, including one called EXPLORE by the ACT people where in part of it they ask a set of questions about interests & then give career suggestions! A mite early, you might say, but food for thought nonetheless.  

That's the same here - they even use ST scores for admission to some merit based middle schools. DC's 4th grade scores determined whether she could enter several wonderful schools/programs. The  same will be true for her 7th grade scores. I've still taken a relaxed approach - figuring that if schools think these scores are indicative of whether children will do well in certain environments, I'd like DC to perform on the tests with the amount of energy she is interested in applying to her education overall. Though, since next year's scores will be such a big deal we, like you, will probably do our best to be sure she's healthy, well fed, and well rested for the tests.


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#17 of 18 Old 03-12-2014, 12:08 PM
 
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The state where I teach requires students to pass a certain test to move from 4th to 5th grade and then again from 8th to 9th. Once the students are in high school, they take what we call EOC tests (End of Course tests). They take these for 7 specific classes. They are not only required to pass the tests for graduation, the test score they receive is 20% of the student's grade for the entire class. I teach 10th grade English, which is one of the EOC classes. My students have the highest pass rate in the disctrict (not counting honors classes- I teach regular classes), as well as the highest percentage who score As and Bs on the tests. I DO NOT teach to the test- I can't because I have no idea what is really on it. I know the skills they have to have to do well, and I do teach those skills using a variety of literature, both fiction and non-fiction. Just last week we read speeches by JFK and MLK and identified elements of persuasion and what makes good writing.

 

Teachers are evaluated to an extent on these scores. I actually like that they affect the students' grades. Otherwise, many of them would not put forth effort. I have teenagers, and that is just the reality. The students do take tests every year until the get to high school. We do look at these scores to see what the students may need help in. For many, it is not about intelligence. It is about how to take a standardized test. Like it or not, that is part of life now. If they want to go to college, the ACT and SAT are out there. Our students can earn free college tuition at any state college with a 2.5 GPA and 20 on the ACT. I want my students to have those options. That equals $24K in free tuition! My husband was in and out of work for 3 years; in that time he applied for hundreds of jobs. MANY of them required him to take tests, timed, online. So the idea that they will never have to take another standardized test after school is naive.

 

I want my students to love learning, love reading, and leave my class with cultural awareness. But I also want them to be able to perform on the tests the world is going to throw at them. Good teachers can make sure a student faces a test with confidence and the knowledge they need to do well. This does not have to come at the expense of learning.

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#18 of 18 Old 03-15-2014, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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PS When I was a kid, I scored highly and always felt good about that. Maybe too good. It's always been a struggle for me to de-link learning/achievement/success from external recognition, but I am trying hard to do that for the sake of my kids.

I have had a similar experience.  It feels good to be at the top, but it doesn't help you at all to know it.  I was innately curious and learned a lot on my own, but habitually put little effort into actual school work, and still scored very high on just about anything they put in front of me.  So, I was low on homework completion but tip top on test scores.  A lot of my school days consisted of daydreaming through lectures waiting patiently and lovingly for everyone else to catch up, like a good little girl.  I was trained that I could be helpful to the class by just staying silent and waiting for everyone else to learn.  I honestly believed in my classmates' abilities to learn, and that it was my responsibility to help them with their struggle to learn.  Only now I can recognize that nobody was ever going to catch up to me, and that all of my potential was being wasted.  My initiative also was thwarted repeatedly.  I always had lots of great ideas I wanted to try out, but no supplies or opportunities.  At home I was always exploring nature and doing science experiments on my own on the porch or in the shed.  I collected soils, plants, leaves, seeds, just all kinds of stuff to have 'experiments' and grow things, or just to examine and study.  My parents would always throw my stuff in the garbage in the most painful and angry way possible.  I would cry.  I think that's why they did it--to hurt me on purpose.  So I developed learned helplessness, which I still struggle with 30 years later. 

 

Now I'm doing undergrad research and I'm going to apply to grad school.  Every time I'm in the lab, I can see and feel how much I've been wronged educationally and by my parents.  Now I'm expected to take initiative and do all my own stuff without supervision, and I can still feel all the times I was smacked around for doing just that.  I've lost so many hopes and dreams over the years.  And it's embarrassing when the more senior lab members / professors perhaps think that I don't have enough initiative or I'm not smart enough, as a misinterpretation of my learned habit of needing to have permission before I do anything.  I used to have hella initiative and curiosity and great ideas.  But the caged animal when finally freed still walks a ten foot circle.  So that's what I'm dealing with right now. 


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