10/1/2013 – How Testing Obsession Harms Education

10/1/2013 – How Testing Obsession Harms Education

Jeff Bryant One comment
EON Newsletters
THIS WEEK: Cyber Schools Flunk … Are NOLA Charters A Success? … U.S. Schools More Segregated Than Ever … Teachers Go Begging For The Basics … Elizabeth Warren’s Plan For College Debt

TOP STORY

Test Obsession Is Killing Education

By Jeff Bryant

“Reports of testing data … rarely reveal the grand aha moment claimed and are more so indicators of just how far off base the nation has gone in understanding what matters most for school children … 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 … Does this call for abandoning testing altogether? Of course not.”
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NEWS AND VIEWS

Cyber Schools Flunk, But Tax Money Keeps Flowing

Politico

“Taxpayers send nearly $2 billion a year to cyber schools … In state after state, online school after online school posts dismal scores on math, writing and science tests and mediocre scores on reading … The scores are so bad, especially at the largest and most high-profile cyber schools, that even fervent advocates of online learning have begun to worry … K12 Inc., the largest cyber school management company, explicitly encourages teachers to forgive strings of zeros on homework and quizzes if the student can later show he’s learned the concepts … In last month’s conference call with investors, K12 CEO Ron Packard said he expects many states to boost, not cut, funding for online schools.”
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The Great Charter Tryout

The Daily Beast

“After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, education reformers swept away what remained of the traditional public schools in what had been one of the nation’s lowest-performing districts. In their place, charters promised choice and increased accountability … But eight years after Hurricane Katrina, there is evidence that the picture is far more complicated. Seventy-nine percent of RSD charters are still rated D or F by the Louisiana Department of Education … New Orleans had been a troubled school district long before Katrina … One undeniable reality is that negotiating the new charter-dominated system has been complicated for students; it also has favored those who have the most parental support … Critics argue that the pressure to show high test scores and get kids into college, combined with the broad leeway given to charter schools to suspend and expel students, means the ‘difficult to teach’ kids have been effectively abandoned.”
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Six Decades After Brown Ruling, US Schools Still Segregated

Aljazeera America

“African-American and Latino students are less likely to attend racially and ethnically diverse schools today than at any other time in the last four decades … a major setback for one of the core goals of the civil rights movement … More than 74% of African-American students and 80% of Latinos attended schools in 2009-10 where at least half the population consisted of only one minority … In some of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, minorities attend what the study calls ‘apartheid’ schools, where students of color make up 99 to 100% of the population … Some experts say charter schools may be exacerbating the issue by concentrating wealth and experienced teachers in certain neighborhoods, which increasingly divides schools along socioeconomic lines.”
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Should Teachers Have to Beg Online to Fund Classroom Supplies?

Alternet

Heather long writes, “Several online forums have tried to connect donors in America (and abroad) to help provide teachers with basic classroom items. Reddit Gifts… started aiding teachers in 2012. Educators are asked to send the site a short list of what they lack. The most common items? Photocopier paper, whiteboard markers, pencils/crayons/markers, construction paper, and safety scissors for kids … Donors Choose is an even bigger operation trying to aid America’s teachers … Teachers from 53% of American K-12 schools have posted on Donors Choose … When thousands of teachers are on sites like Reddit Gifts and Donors Choose trying to make the case for funding for basic supplies, you have to wonder where America’s priorities are.”
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Elizabeth Warren Calls For Big Changes To Student Loans

The Huffington Post

“College graduates struggling to repay their student loans should have an easier time getting their debt eliminated if they go into bankruptcy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said … Warren … called for the reversal of reforms enacted in the past three decades that have made discharging education debt practically impossible … Warren called student loans the worst kind of consumer debt families face today because they start early and ‘they are inexorable – you can’t get rid of them’ … Among Warren’s other proposals: providing federal financial assistance to states that fund public colleges, eliminating government profits from student loans, and punishing colleges with graduates who aren’t able to manage their debt, suggesting schools that have a high number of graduates defaulting on their loans should pay back money to the federal government.”
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1 Comment

Jeff Bryant

October 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I have a friend in grad school studying to be a teacher. They have online classes, and as he has been in school before online classes, he says it is glaring the lack of social skills in younger students who are used to chats, emails, and now texts when they get into the classroom. They don’t initiate. They don’t respond to suggestions. They don’t discuss. When you see their writing on line, it shows much more intelligence and thinking. They just are not doing it verbally or interacting with others. And these are going to be future teachers. They won’t even respond to an email in a group project they must all do together for a grade. If you don’t text them, you don’t get any contact. The initial classes he took were all group projects done by the students. The teachers did very little. When hearing complaints, their response was that education is now all group related and group oriented. Mine and his problem is paying for classes where you expect to get learning, education, ideas, counsel from experienced teachers in the field. They sit back. The students do all the work.
Sharing with each other is beneficial yes, but what if some of them don’t share….what if some of them leave you to do your part on your own….no group sharing going on here….
Not much prep required when the students do the whole class. What is the teacher being paid for? Classes cost too much for just a teacher to get you all in one room and hand out assignments for the quarter. Are you paying for the grade too? Seems to me those are not very high level skills and should not be paid like they are. Is this approach the result of testing as the primary focus of education now? The main goal is only to pass tests, that do not completely and accurately measure all students need to have a well rounded education with which to cope well in the kind of world we have now. Life is not all math and science. And if you say that is for them to get jobs, life is not all about your job either. After years of only working for somebody else, you wonder where your life went, and all the things you wanted for yourself and your family. You were born to service a corporation until they push you out…..? And they will. Rarely are 60+’s found on the job anymore. But they stlll have to live…..or is it that our main purpose for living is primarily to work for somebody else……..

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