Testing in schools
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Maya Angelou Asks President Obama to Curb Standardized Testing ...

One hundred and twenty authors and illustrators, including Maya Angelou, sent President Obama a letter encouraging him to curb standardized testing. President Barack Obama The White House Washington, DC 20500.

Via Emilie Hoogewerff
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

When I first read through this letter that Maya Angelou and one hundred and nineteen other authors and illustrators wrote to President Barack Obama I was touched. I was heartened by the fact that people are trying to make a difference and really change the education system. The letter opens with the concerns that these authors and illustrators have, “we are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature…requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impost more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.” The differences I see in elementary school classrooms from when I was younger to now is troubling. When I was younger there was much more leeway with the curriculum; teachers were able to create their own lessons, play their own games and incorporate their own style of teaching. Now, there is a set curriculum that teachers have to follow day-by-day. Teachers don’t have time to let students explore, imagine, create, or play. Teachers are preparing student for standardized tests and drilling material into their heads. Learning use to be fun, and now it’s a chore. The curriculum is narrowing due to the fixation on high-stakes testing. “Our public school students spend far too much time preparing for reading test and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations…Its not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children. We are creating a generation that hates reading and feels nothing but hostility for literature. Instead of spending time and money on test-prep materials, schools should be focusing on nurturing exploration, creativity and love for education and school. 

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Emilie Hoogewerff's curator insight, December 20, 2013 7:47 PM

I thought this article was so cool because it shows the perspective of standardized testing from a point of view that many people don't think to consider: authors of children's literature. This shows just how invested these authors are in their work and how much they effect children's lives and the fact that they realize that, too. I found the legitimacy of this article very fascinating, too, since authors like maya Angelou and Judy Blume supported their cause. The purpose of this letter to the president was to call to attention the fact that students are too pressured to exceed in testing. There is more of a focus on test preparation than there is on the enjoyment of reading. Maya Angelou addresses the idea that this is dangerous and causes an animosity towards reading, which is evident in today's society. Rather than focusing so heavily on test preparation and test scores, Angelou calls for a wave on change in our education system where administrations and teachers should focus on nurturing "creativity, exploration, and a love of literature."

I think much of Angelou's point here is valid. In today's grade driven culture it's so easy to lose sight of the joy and benefits you can get from picking up a good book. Teachers feel that they don't have enough time to allow for this, though, because they are so focused on getting test grades up since that's now something they are evaluated on themselves to determine whether or not they keep their job (in some cases). 

Aftre taking a course exclusively on children's literature, I think it's vital to incorporate these books in the classroom. By choosing high quality literature to offer these students to read, real and valuable discussion and knowledge can result. I'm a firm believer that it doesn't take a quiz or test to evaluate whether or not there is learning going on, and I think Angelou is advocating for this in her letter to the President. 

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Slam Poet Slams Standardized Education | Breaking the Stage

Abby Martin features a performance by Malachi Byrd of DC Youth Slam and Split this Rock, discussing his inspiration for the poem 'Intelligence' and the issue...


Via Emilie Hoogewerff
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

 

I was so impressed with this video and truly inspired by the words of Malachi Byrd. Malachi expresses his opinion about the education system and its flaws. He starts out his poem by saying, “the American school system and consequently the American public define intelligence as 2400 SAT, 36 ACT, 4.0 GPA…” Although sad and unfortunate, a person’s intellect and ability to learn ARE based on these numbers. How can one determine intelligence based on a standardized test? We are all different learners and all have different learning styles. How can one test determine our ability to learn or how smart we are? These tests turn us into statistics and numbers and eliminate our identities. Malachi goes on to recite that the common application “transforms you from a sweetheart to a statistic,” and that people “let the score on the ACT act as their only identifier.” There is so much emphasis on these grades and these tests that education isn’t about obtaining and absorbing knowledge, its about drilling and memorizing and spitting out senseless things that you forget a week later. There are so many successful people in this world that never took the SAT’s or attended college who are extremely intelligent.

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Emilie Hoogewerff's curator insight, December 6, 2013 12:19 AM

I absolutely love this piece of slam poetry. I had to watch it about five times because there was just SO much meaning behind literally every sentence he said that I couldn't keep up with it. I had to listen, pause, digest, and replay the video mulitple times to truly even begin to appreciate it.

I struggled with where to place this video- under my diversity curation or my standardized testing. But I think the bigger picture is the diversity aspect of it. He touches on the detrimental effects of having standardized education and the rigid distinctions it creates for such a broad, diverse system. This can almost be seen as diversity in itself- or the lack thereof. We are making schools one dimensional by standardizing the system and elimating the diversity that could exist in teaching methods- like that of technological incorporation or project based leraning. He points out that there is more than one way to define intelligence- that it is not defined in test scores.

Byrd then brings in the point that Stphanie Grace, an ivy league graduate says that blacks are "genetically inferior, less intelligent than whites." I love his response to this. He uses many plays on words to say basically, "you fell victim to the standardization of the system". He says that "we [African Americans] are warriors." He points out that African Americans triumped in more ways that just passing a test, and for that his ancestors are intelligent and he is intelligent. Byrd goes on to defend the ways of his people. 

This video is truly amazing.

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When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests - The Atlantic

When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests - The Atlantic | Testing in schools | Scoop.it
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

Teachers refusing to give the district's required reading and math tests...is that possible? Apparently at Seattle's Garfield High School it is. Earlier this year, the school received harsh criticism from outside observers and district officials. However, The PTA, the student government and most parents voted in support of the teachers claiming that they viewed testing as an inappropriate measure of teachers' effectiveness. When administration came to the classroom and listed off the students that needed to take the test, many were exempt or just didn't get out of their seats. "'There was the most incredible sense of solidarity in the building,' recalls Garfield history teacher Jesse Hagopian." In addition, there have been many protests against state testing in places including: Oklahoma, Long Island, New York City, Texas, Seattle and Chicago. "Garfield High School’s Hagopian predicts “'the biggest revolt against standardized testing in U.S. history' during the coming testing season from March through May." However, test proponents are not in agreement with this and argue that they don't believe enough people are in support of getting rid of standardized testing and dont see a problem. 

I have never been in favor of standardized testing. I am going to be a teacher one day and I would hate to think that my ability to teach is being judged based on whether my students pass a test or not. Working in Rosa Park’s elementary school, I have heard teachers complain about standardized tests more times than I can count. My cooperating teacher handed me a test that the students had to take a couple days prior and I couldn’t believe the type of questions these tests were asking second graders. I would never have been able to answer questions like that when I was in second grade. I think standardized testing is a horrible way to measure a teacher’s ability to teach or a students ability to learn. 

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Don’t Teach to the Test

Don’t Teach to the Test | Testing in schools | Scoop.it
Journalist Ron Berler explains how standardized testing is preventing students from learning.
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

This article by Brooke Berger talks about standardized testing and how he thinks that it isnt an accurate way to judge our education system. In 2011, the secretary of education came out saying that 82% of schools could be failing by 2012. How is that possible i thought? Berger goes on to say that testing cannot be a fair measure of a schools quality, for example, "suppose you are a fifth grader and you walk into class at the beginning of the year reading at a high-second-grade level, and, sadly, that is not all that uncommon. Now that teacher carries you up to a mid-fourth-grade level. That's like a year-and-two-thirds jump in a year. Because [the Connecticut Mastery Test] tests fifth-grade levels, that kid got no credit for that advancement. Nor did the teacher, nor did the school." Furthermore, schools are only teaching students to pass the standardized tests. The article explains that once kids get back from christmas break, the teachers drop their cirriculum, drop their texts, and instead study exclusively from a standardized-test prep book. "Kids weren't getting a liberal arts education, but prepping to a very narrowly drawn standardized test in primarily language arts and math. Because they were interested in passing the test more than anything else, for that 22 percent of the school year, they taught primarily to the broad middle section of kids that were going to pass." Berger then goes on to emphasize the importance of parental involvement in education and how essential it is for parents to reinforce learning in their homes. Lastly, Berger speaks about budget cuts and how they are applied at the elementary school level. He adds that if the budget needs to be cut, the last place they should do it is at elementary schools. Those are the most crucial years and we should be catching students up when they are young.

I am in agreement with this entire article. I think Berger makes very valid points and highlights the flaws in the education system while also providing solutions and alternatives. Although it is difficult to change something so complicated and multifaceted, he gives several examples of how to approach this situation.  

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How Test Obsession Is Killing Education

How Test Obsession Is Killing Education | Testing in schools | Scoop.it
We're dangerously mired in squabbling about what "the data" reveal about the quality of American schooling, even as teachers go begging for the very pencils students need to fill out the oh-so-critically-important tests.

Via Emilie Hoogewerff
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

“How Test Obsession is killing Education” by Jeff Bryant is an article depicting the standardized testing in America. Bryant feels that the nation has gone so far off base in understanding what matters for most children. “At every corner and level, the national debate about education policy is dangerously mired in squabbling about what “the data” reveal about the quality of American schooling, while in the meantime, teachers go begging for the very pencils students need to fill out the oh-so-critically-important tests.” The data from standardized tests show that our schools are failing and that we are in a serious crisis. However, Diane Ravtich, education historian contends that public schools are not failing. There have been notable improvements on international tests, a narrowing of the test-score gap between African-American students and white students. Bryant then goes on to talk about the SAT’s and how the real question isn’t about why or whether the scores went up or down, “but whether or not the results tell us anything valuable about a students achievement and abilities. They don’t.” David Colemen, the president of the organization that owns the SAT, tells New York Times that the makers of the test want it rewritten due to its emphasis on vocab that is too complex for everyday use, a math section that contains concepts that don’t matter and an essay section that doesn’t value accuracy. “The impact that test data obsession has on day-today practices in schools cannot be overstated.” The decision to fail or pass schools, rate if teachers are effective or even keep schools open are now being based on test scores. I think that the fact that schools are getting shut down and teachers are losing their jobs because of standardized tests is absurd. There are alternative ways to measure a teacher’s ability and a schools improvement. I would hate to think that when I am a teacher that I could potentially lose my job because my students are given tests that are not fair and don’t measure their level of progression. It concerns me that there have been cheating scandals with teachers because of the pressure and fear that these tests create. These tests hinder teachers from doing their job and only allow them to teach to the test. It’s unfortunate that kids are missing out on important aspects of learning because they are made to memorize information instead of truly understanding it. 

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Emilie Hoogewerff's curator insight, October 3, 2013 10:52 PM

I found this article really interesting and relatable. I remember when i took test prep classes for the SAT they taught me how to "beat the test" instead of learning the material. We were literally taught how to cheat the test and understand words that were deliberately used to confuse us. We worked our way around these nuances to answer the questions without really working through the problem. Based on what this article says and my own personal experience I think there is a valid point being made: standardized tests are failing to do it's sole purpose- test a studen'ts ability to master the material. There's so much focus on just passing the test that students memorize the material and don't actually learn it.

Another point in the article I found particularly concering was the fact that, "Despite the mounting evidence that testing does not revel the truth we think it does, the juggernaut nevertheless continues to roll on, as states spend billions more on ever-more expensive yet generally unproven new tests." If these tests have proven the ineffectiveness of standardized tests, why are we continuing to implement them. And not only implement them, but base our education so heavily on them. 

I connected this to my research on the common core- it is so focued on critical thinking and less on memorization and rigid right/wrong answers. If there is so much value in the common core curicculum and all these states continue to implement it, then why do we continue to test our students in such rigid terms. Isn't this contradictory?

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Why I Hate School But Love Education||Spoken Word

The Latest Spoken Word Video from Suli Breaks. PURCHASE ON ITUNES: http://goo.gl/ZhqVl SUBSCRIBE: http://goo.gl/6mf0j TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/sulibre...

Via Emilie Hoogewerff
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

I am obsessed with this video and absolutely in love with how he raises issues about education through his slam poetry. “Do you want a degree? Why? Let me tell you what society will tell you. It increases your chances of getting a job, provides you with an opportunity to be successful, life will be a lot less stressful. Education is the key.” He then goes on to name famous people such as Steve jobs (net worth 7 billion), Richard Branson (4.2 billion), Oprah Winfrey  (2.7 billion), etc. and states that none of them have ever graduated from a higher learning institution, “were either people unsuccessful, or uneducated?” he asks. His poetry is inspirational and really touches upon several problems within education today. He continues to talk about exams and says, “are you aware that examiners have a check list, and if your answer is something outside of the box, the automatic responses across, and then they claim that school expands your horizons and your visions. Well tell that to Malcolm X, who dropped out of school, and is well renowned for what he learned in prisons.” We claim that schools are supposed to open our minds, expose us to different things and make us think. Unfortunately, school has become so centered around passing tests that we forget about expanding our horizons and visions. Education is about inspiring ones mind, not just filling their head.

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Emilie Hoogewerff's curator insight, December 6, 2013 12:36 AM

I am so in awe with this video. I think there is so much to gain from the message behind Suli Breaks words. They are so inspiring and so meaningful, and you can hear the passion in his voice. I decided to group this under diversity in schools because it has to do with people and how the choose to learn differently and what they choose to get out of going to school. This directly relates to diversity of the students. Some may be strictly grade oriented and very hung up on test scores, however, there will be some who are the complete opposite and who find value in the social lessons and experiences they obtain through schooling. The key is to knowing what your students require as individuals and tailoring to their needs.

One quote that really stuck with me was "education is about inspiring one's mind, not just filling their head." I think this is so true and that our job as teachers is not to overload these students with facts and numbers and statistics and data and ask them to regurgitate it back to us. There is SO much more the learning than that. Being educated is being smart, and being curious, and being clueless but having that thirst for knowledge and going out there and obtaining it. I think it's a concept that often gets lost in the mess of grading and standards and requirements that is our education system, but is something valuble that deserves attention.

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5 Reasons the Common Core Is Ruining Childhood

5 Reasons the Common Core Is Ruining Childhood | Testing in schools | Scoop.it
Bianca Lea Iacono's insight:

"The people behind the Common Core might think that they are ensuring college/career readiness, but what they are really ensuring is a generation of anxious robotic children who can memorize answers but don't know how to think." This is a quote that stuck with me throughout the entire article. Katie Hurley believes that the common core is ruining education and instilling fear into our teachers. Teachers are people who teach, care and protect children. “I happen to know a lot of teachers. These are people who stay up entirely too late each night planning fun and engaging lessons for the following day. These are people who call me to seek help for those hard-to-reach students. These are people who hide first grade students in cabinets and sing them songs to keep them calm while a shooter wreaks havoc on their campus. Forget about all of that. Today teachers are being forced to follow a script. They teach to tests and fear job loss if they don't see the expected results,” says Hurley. Hurley then continues to list five key reasons as to why the common core is ruining children’s lives. There is increased stress, creativity in schools is dead, there is inadequate time to socialize, children adopt poor eating habits and aren’t given sufficient time to exercise, and there is no time to decompress.

Although this article is very strongly opinionated and may have stronger views than I do, I agree with a lot of what Hurley discusses. I don’t think the common core is “ruining childhood” but I do think it increases stress, eliminates creativity, and takes away essential socializing and decompressing time such as recess. There is too much emphasis on drilling and teaching to the test and not enough on creative arts and sports and other aspects that are just as important as math and reading. I better understand the article “When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests” because why would a parent support something that deprives their child of such essential things. If I had the option, I would probably do the same 

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