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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, in IN, they have something called ISTEP (state standardized testing) that starts in third grade. Dd is in first grade, so she really isn't directly affected by the fact that the school overall did worse this year. How much worse, I don't know. I only even heard about it through the father of my daughter's friend, who is concerned about it. His daughter isn't even in kindergarten yet. He wanted to send her to Catholic school, but can't because of medical issues of his wife, so he has to send her to public school.

He was making quite a big deal about it, thinking that this is a terrible thing. I kept telling him I wasn't concerned about it, because dd1 is in the advanced reading group, and she's reading at an upper third grade level on her own. I told him the lowest score she got for anything was a 93%.

But he seemed to be very concerned about the quality of the teachers and education his daughter will get.

Last year, the school got the highest rating (4 stars) and now they dropped.
I assume they will do what they can to fix the problem to get back on track.

And regardless of their rating, won't a child who is an independent learner have a better ability to hold her own, despite the overall school scores?

I honestly don't believe it's the teachers' fault. I think if parents aren't helping the kids at home (and I know many don't), then the blame should be shared.

What's the worst case scenario here? What am I missing? Am I being naive?

For us, aside from moving (which we are not ready to do), we have no choice but to go to this particular public school.

Heck, I'm almost ready to offer my services to the school to help tutor struggling kids if they really need the help getting kids back where they need to be.

Do we panic and consider homeschooling, or can we take a wait and see attitude?

What do you think?
 

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Chances are, nothing changed in the school, but the standards were increased.

Our state standards were tightened for the 2007/2008 testing year, and almost all the schools had a drop in the ratings.

Here, most of the score decrease was due to requiring all special ed children to test at what should be their grade leve instead of their development level.
 

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In our school, the standards were increased. 2nd graders have to read at a higher level at the end of grade than they did last year. I asked the teacher if they made 2nd graders smarter this year? (She stifled a laugh.) They teach my DS at his level (and other kids at their levels) for reading, etc. in any case.

The other thing that happened is that we had a huge influx of students from Latin America, who simply don't speak English well enough yet to do well on an English reading test. The school has accelerated programs for them, so they're catching up, but it wrecked the average scores for our school.

In either case, the scores don't affect my children's learning negatively. I would investigate the "why" behind the scores before judging it.

Now, some people will tell you they don't want their children to even associate with kids who aren't doing well on test. They want their kids challenged in a competitive manner by other kids/families, and will only accept education in a highly competitive system. We don't think like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the reassurance.

The way I see it, dh is a mechanical engineer, I'm a former scientist. I figure, between the two of us, the children would get plenty of help if they slipped in their performance.

I don't want my girls in highly competitive programs to be pressured to perform academically from an early age. The way I figure it, dh and I both ended up having very good careers even though we went to public school and ended up going to state colleges (though we both got accepted to competitive private colleges - for financial reasons, we chose state college).

Maybe I'm the odd one out, but where I have friends who are feel strongly about private school, I still think there's nothing wrong with public school, especially with two parents who are willing to challenge the children outside of school (we do projects and go to interesting places).
 

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I wouldn't necessarily worry about the quality of teachers. For example, my son goes to a private Montessori and I teach at a low-income, large, middle school with a high EL population. Guess which one has the lower test scores. That reflects the student population more than the teachers, IMHO. In addition, at my school, the large population of ELs is scoring below grade level (a whole different thread) but if you look at the other subgroups, they are at grade level and their scores are increasing. So, sure, there are issues, but they may not affect your child.

On the other hand, because we have such low test scores, it is the really the main focus of our school. It is all we talk about as a staff and it is the deciding factor in all decisions. That is the reason my son goes to Montessori. I want him in a class where the paint, garden, and sing rather than focus on test scores.
 

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I don't know how rankings are done in your area but I've heard and seen rankings that are partially based on how the school improves year to year.

Depending on how that's done it can penalize good schools. If most of their students are already meeting the standards they can't improve much and it could lower their ranking.

I don't know if that's the case here, but its evidence that rankings need to be taken as just one piece of data in a larger picture.
 

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You need to see what it's based on:

Is it test scores?
Is it attendance?
Is it test scores for a certain subgroup of kids?
Is it increased standards?

No Child Left Behind mandates tougher standards from year to year AND that more groups of children be included. So, this means that kids who might have been previously exempt, such as kids who speak another language at home and who've only been in school a year, or kids with learning disabilities, are required to meet the same standards as other kids. Not just make progress but meet the same standards.

IMO, most learning in the elementary years is facilitated, but not driven by, what happens in school. Home environment plays a huge role too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
See, that's what I figured, there must be more than what's on the surface. I didn't get a chance to ask, but I think I will soon, just to find out what the story was. I'm sure that what the newspaper presents isn't the full story. So, I'm going to try to find out.

And, I thought Indiana already had pretty high standards to begin with, so if they raised them again, then I could see there could be problems.

Or the fact that we have a lot of students (just before last year they had to send the 5th graders to the middle school because we had an influx of new students). That could be the reason too.
 

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The whole testing thing is out of control. In some schools with high scores, they spend months just preping for the tests discourage kids who they know won't do well on the test from showing up during test week (just call in sick!!!).

I'd look deeper into the school. What are they doing? How does the staff interact with the kids? Is your child learning? Is your child enjoying learning? What is the school doing to help kids who are behind? What are the doing to challange kids who find school easy? Some of this will show up in test scores, but some of it won't.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Miss Information View Post
See, that's what I figured, there must be more than what's on the surface. I didn't get a chance to ask, but I think I will soon, just to find out what the story was. I'm sure that what the newspaper presents isn't the full story. So, I'm going to try to find out.

And, I thought Indiana already had pretty high standards to begin with, so if they raised them again, then I could see there could be problems.

Or the fact that we have a lot of students (just before last year they had to send the 5th graders to the middle school because we had an influx of new students). That could be the reason too.
In our state the amount of children meeting the standards goes up every year so that one year it is 24%, the next 38% etc, until that magic year (2011?) when 100% of students are at standard, and any school that doesn't meet that goal is "failing." Keep in mind that this includes special ed, kids who have behavior issues and are suspended all the time and students who just arrived in the country yesterday. Your standards may be high, but the number of children who must meet the goal may be increasing at a very quick rate.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Flor View Post
In our state the amount of children meeting the standards goes up every year so that one year it is 24%, the next 38% etc, until that magic year (2011?) when 100% of students are at standard, and any school that doesn't meet that goal is "failing." Keep in mind that this includes special ed, kids who have behavior issues and are suspended all the time and students who just arrived in the country yesterday. Your standards may be high, but the number of children who must meet the goal may be increasing at a very quick rate.

I think this is true for all states. The whole point of NCLB is that NO child is left behind. That means by the time NCLB is fully implemented, EVERY single child is supposed to be able to pass the standardized tests. 90 or 95% passing score is not high enough. 100% is the goal. To that end, each year standards are tightened up and in order for a school to receive a good ranking, a higher percentage of students need to pass the test. If 90% passed last year, and 90% pass this year, the school won't be ranked as well because there wasn't any improvement shown. Blech.

So I'm not a fan of NCLB. And I don't base my decision to send a child to school on the standardized test results. My kids' school has a lower passing rate on our state's test, but that's largely due to a large number of children whose home language is not English. Despite the fact that the test scores aren't the best, my kids are getting a great education. And like you, I believe that home environment is far more important that what happens at school.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by annethcz View Post

And I don't base my decision to send a child to school on the standardized test results. My kids' school has a lower passing rate on our state's test, but that's largely due to a large number of children whose home language is not English. Despite the fact that the test scores aren't the best, my kids are getting a great education. And like you, I believe that home environment is far more important that what happens at school.

That's what I really wanted to hear. I know my daughter's two teachers she's had have been wonderful. They have understood her shyness, and have encouraged the classes as a whole to challenge themselves. The teacher last year created a writing center based on the fact that some for the girls (my dd included) brought in stories that they wrote and illustrated. They have worked to bolster the confidence of all the kids. My dd1's first grade teacher emphasizes the effort of class participation (ie, there are no wrong answers).

It's been very wonderful to see. That's why it bothers me that every time I talk to this father (and he's the dh of a good friend of mine), that all he is concerned about is standardized test scores. It's aggravating to feel put on the defensive. He does that a lot. Asks questions of me I don't necessarily have the answers for at the drop of a hat. But after having time to think (usually not until after I leave), that's when I find the answers that would explain my POV>
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Miss Information View Post
That's why it bothers me that every time I talk to this father (and he's the dh of a good friend of mine), that all he is concerned about is standardized test scores. It's aggravating to feel put on the defensive. He does that a lot. Asks questions of me I don't necessarily have the answers for at the drop of a hat.
when he brings it up, change the subject. "Oh, let's not talk about test scores again. Have you seen any good movies?"

or

"I can see how you could feel that way. Could you pass the bean dip?"

or

just get up a leave the room.
 
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