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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.
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

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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Bianca Lea Iacono's curator insight, December 12, 2013 10:26 PM

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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Our IQs Are Climbing, But We’re Not Getting Smarter

Our IQs Are Climbing, But We’re Not Getting Smarter | standardizedtesting | Scoop.it
There has been a significant rise in IQ scores over the past century, but tests show that doesn't mean we're getting any smarter.
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

Isn't an IQ test just a glorified standardized test? I think this article is extremely relateable to standardized tests. The article says that, "Students are trained in test-taking strategies and heuristics that, according to the paper, can be applied to IQ-type problems." So if we're taught and repeatedly take tests, we know how to take the test and the nuances that go along with it. How does this reflect our intelligence? How does any standardized test reflect our intelligence? Isn't there more to intelliegence than rigid right/wrong answers? I think all of the questions expose the flaws in the IQ test and any standardized test in general. There are so many complicated facets to one's intelligence that I can't fully understand a test telling us that either yes, you're smart, or no, you're not. I don't know if it's possible to create a test that tells you that. One person may really not be great at practical math problems, but can build a computer piece by piece starting from scratch. If they do poorly on the math standardized test, does this mean they're not smart? No, I really do not think so. Smart is such a one-dimensional term that does not take into account all aspects of a person that add to their intelligence.

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Grawemeyer winner Diane Ravitch says standardized testing hurting education - The Courier-Journal

Grawemeyer winner Diane Ravitch says standardized testing hurting education - The Courier-Journal | standardizedtesting | Scoop.it
Grawemeyer winner Diane Ravitch says standardized testing hurting education
The Courier-Journal
For decades, Diane Ravitch staunchly supported standardized testing, teacher accountability and school choice.
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

This article made me question what I believe about standardized testing. Ravitch went from supporting standardized testing to criticizing it after she served as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board. Though I have all these beliefs of mine set in my head and I generally do not support the rigid standardized testing that students endure throughout their education system, I'm esentially an outsider. Though I'm a student and have gone through these testings, I haven't been on the other end of it, yet. I wonder if when I become a teacher and see things from a different perspective I may change my mind and view standardized testing differently.

The most important thing I took away from this article was to think critically for myself. It's okay to believe something and then change your views after you gain more experience or perspective. It's something that's more than likely to happen at some point throughout my career, and I'm glad I acknowledged this possibility now rather than struggling with it later.

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How Test Obsession Is Killing Education

How Test Obsession Is Killing Education | standardizedtesting | 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.
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

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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Bianca Lea Iacono's curator insight, December 12, 2013 8:28 PM

“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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Feeling Over-Tested?

Feeling Over-Tested? | standardizedtesting | Scoop.it
This article was written by teen reporters from The Mash, a weekly publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

This article was refreshing to read since it was written by young students themselves, but it also looked at multiple perpectives. It took the stance form the students points of view and discusses how it's such an intense stressor on students to feel the need to tailor their education and time to passing a test that determines the rest of their lives potentially. It also addresses the topic from another point of view: teachers. I never really thought about how teachers feel about standardized testing because I've always been on the "student" end of things. This article brought up valid points, however, from a teacher's point of view. It talked about how teaching is tailored to students just to "pass the test". This removes the art of teaching. There are SO many different things to teach and different techniques with which you may teach, but when you have standardized tests that determine the future of you rjob or your students, teachers feel pressured to teach in a standardized manner, too. Just as student's may feel that they simply memorize the material to pass, teacher's also feel that they teach just to pass. Isn't this a waste of our talent and potential? I am so excited to be teaching in a classroom and put to use the skills that I've already adapted in my studies to become an educator. I don't want to teach in a way that will put all of my experience and passion to waste. 

I also really liked the quote by Barbara Byrd-Bennet, "...thus I recognize the need to pursue a policy that increases valuable learning time." As a past teacher and principle, she understands that standardized testing is not always in the best interest of the students or teachers. There's so much valuable time spent in the classroom that it should be put to use in a way that the students gain the most from. 

 

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Can't allow standardized testing to determine our students future.
dymensionsllc's photo on Instagram (Can't allow standardized testing to determine our students future. http://t.co/yhwORWVOEg)
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

Though this is just a simple quote, I think it's very applicable to standardized testing. Rather than teaching students what to think and memorize and get around tests, we should be teaching them to think critically and analytically and challenge what they think they know.

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When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests

When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests | standardizedtesting | Scoop.it
A small but influential group is protesting the role of testing in education today by refusing to let their children participate.
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

I had no idea that "opting-out" and protesting standardized testing was even an option, let alone a recent fad until I read this article. Growing up, standardized testsing (CMT or Connecticut Mastery Tests) were simply built into our curicculum. The school board didn't make it seem like there was ever an option whether or not to take it. You took it every March and that was that. Reading this article, though, I can understand where the discrepensies lie with standardized testing. “Kids are not looked at as individuals. They’re looked at as data points." This quote spoke a lot to me. You are giving every student the same test and hold them to the same standards and rank them on the same scale, however, no two students are the same, so how can we evaluate them that way? It doesn't seem right if you look into it further. I agree that there should be some form of evaluating a school district's education system, however, I don't believe standardized testing is necessarily the way to go about that. I think it's the easiest and most practical, so that's why it was stuck. I thought the quote, “an extraordinary opportunity to have an extended conversation with our son about the purpose of his learning at school." really spoke alot about the benefits to gain from the system. Though not everyone may agree with the way things are done, that doesn't mean there is not room to converse and hold intellectual conversations about it. Opening up the conversation to students or your children about what learning means to them as individuals could be an interesting talk to stem from this issue. 

 

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HoogewerffEDCI280

HoogewerffEDCI280 | standardizedtesting | Scoop.it
Standardized Tests
Emilie Hoogewerff's insight:

I think this is a good summary of everything that is wrong with standardized testing. However, it fails to point out that it is a narrow testing method for such a broad spectrum of students, abilities, and learning methods.

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