We’re number Umpteenth!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/03/were-number-umpteenth-the-myth-of-lagging-u-s-schools/

 

Read the above article. Its amazing. The author says what I have been believing for years. I’m not the type of person to post controversial articles on social media sites, but this is one I’m passionate about. There are three reasons, in my opinion, why standardized tests will never give us what we want. The above article hits 2 out of 3 of them. 

 

1.) As a nation, we are required to test 95% of our student population. Most other nations test the top third. If we were on top and we tested 95% of our students while the other countries didn’t, I would probably be even more worried for sake of the world. We shouldn’t be the top nation. Its like seeing whose more physically fit, a group of college athletes or the general college population. The article states this as comparing apples to watermelons. Not fair. 

 

2.) We have a much wider range of students than other countries do. As the article states, America’s wealthy students (and I would guess middle class as well) test high. Our poorer students don’t. I teach at a school with a fairly high free and reduced lunch population. I have students (16 year old students) who work 2 jobs to support their family. Of course they are not going to test as well as the students who get to go home and study for hours. We cannot expect the wide variety of students we have in this nation to do well on the exact same test. Also, special education does not exist in other countries. Another subgroup that I am proud to teach, but isn’t included in other countries’ scores.

 

3.) We expect our schools do to more than just give a formal education. Do you know what majority of a school budget it spend on? Transportation and food. Do you want most other countries don’t provide for their students? Transportation and food. Students in other countries are required to get to school on their own by either walking, parents, or public transportation. They are also given three options on food: bring your own, bring your money, or don’t eat. As a teacher, I am much happier knowing that our students get to school safely and get a meal. 

Also in most other countries, when the bell rings, students go home. Students do not wear t-shirts that have their school mascot on them, they do not vote on homecoming queens, they don’t audition for plays, and they don’t consider school a “hangout” place. School is where you learning skills, not where you learn character. We have this thing called school pride that is held with high value. I have had students miss class regularly this past month for track meets, baseball games, soccer games, IT competitions, and business conferences. I’m not saying one is right and one is wrong, I’m just saying one is going to perform better on tests. I like that our students have a sense of home-away-from-home; however, that cannot be measured on the algebra EOC. 

 

This is my opinion. You may not agree with it. Honestly, if you are not an educator, I don’t really care. I have my opinion because I choose work with students everyday. I am not the type of teacher to post quotes about how teachers should get paid more or why teachers have the summers off. I am the type of teacher to stand for whats best for the students, and high stakes standardized testing is not it. High stakes standardizing testing does not match the type of schooling we provide. 

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