January 23, 2014 update : It has recently been brought to my attention, during an arguem- er, discussion – regarding the new Common Core standards (oh, please don’t get me started) that I have been misinformed (thanks a lot wikipedia – just kidding, though I did get my info from the internet) and other countries do use standardized tests..

Not how you remember the alphabet, huh? That’s not the alphabet folks. That is how the education system tries to send our children to a nervous breakdown every school year. It is how they spend weeks of classroom time, preparing for these standardized tests, to show someone, somewhere, what they have learned – because obviously, their report cards aren’t enough.

I will tell you what they have learned. They have learned the test. They have learned to stress out over these tests. They are told that they have to pass these tests to pass the grade. Oh, yeah, you have to get good grades, too, but you have to pass the test. You have to get a high score on the test so our school can be an “A” school. You have to score high on the test so we can get more money for our school. Oh, and you have to get good grades too.

The kids have to take time off from their regular school work to learn the test. They aren’t learning what is on the test. They are learning how to fool the test.

For example:

(from Strategies to Improve Student Test Scores)

– When two options are similar, neither one is likely to be correct.
• The most general option is likely to be the correct option.
• The longest or most complete option is likely to be the correct option.
• The option containing technical language is likely to be the correct one.
• When two of the options are opposite, one of them is always incorrect, and the other is usually,but not always, correct.
• As a last resort, select an option that is neither the first nor the last choice. Options B and C are
somewhat more likely to be correct than options A or D.
• Options with qualifiers such as most are usually correct.
• Options with absolute statements such as all or none are usually incorrect.

WHAT? Why not just, instead of taking weeks at a time away from the school schedule teaching them THIS, why not teach them what they need to know to get the answers without guessing or eliminating? Then, maybe we wouldn’t need these tests – no, wait – we don’t need these tests now.

I have a friend whose son has been held back because of his score on his FCAT. He is dyslexic. They had told her that once held back for this, he could never be held back for his test scores again. The teachers have since told her that was not true and now her son is absolutely beside himself about these tests. How dare they do this to a 9-year-old?

I do not blame the teachers by any means. They are just doing their jobs, jobs which, in many states, now depend on how well the students perform on these tests. So they really have no choice but to teach the tests.

How is any of this fair?

Did you know that the U.S. is the only economically advanced nation that relies  on this sort of standardized tests? Other countries use performance-based assessment ( umm – sounds like a REPORT CARD to me..) where students are evaluated on the basis of real work such as essays, projects and activities. Ironically, because they do not focus on “teaching the test”, they even score higher than U.S. students on those kinds of tests.  Maybe we should take a lesson?

This tirade comes from a note from Goose’s teacher this week, in which she told me that, basically, she “does not have time to (follow his 504 plan) because she is getting the students ready for the FCAT ..”

Basically, I took that as ” I do not have time to do my job because I have to get ready for this standardized test”

I have a great idea..let’s get rid of the standardized test, and focus on the education of our children.


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