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Reading and Writing and Chocolate

Standardized Testing - The Dementors of Education

July 26, 2008, 09:32 PM

Before you read this, I want to make sure I say that the opinions in this blog are mine, and they don't reflect the views of Leaky. So, basically, if you want to yell at someone, please aim it at me!

I have enlisted a dear friend, Kadi, (Darth Kadar herself) to help me discuss standardized testing from her point of view as an elementary teacher and as a teacher of children who have special needs. This week you'll see my blog entry, from the views of a teacher in secondary school who teaches students who are high achievers or gifted and talented, in a few days I'll put up Kadi's guest blog. We'd also love to hear your thoughts so please take the time to respond, or if you feel like adding a blog of your own, please feel free to send it on to me.

Standardized Testing - The Dementors of Education
Curious title for a blog, isn't it? But for anyone who has taught in the days of "Standardized Testing" you know exactly what I mean. Learning should be fun, it should be joyful, it should be an experience of discovery and self-realization, not some soul-sucking horror.

Today, this is not the case. Long ago, a group of educators designed the model for Kindergarten as children who, like flowers, were planted deeply in academia, and their roots were allowed to grow and flourish. Each child able to develop their strengths on a time-table that suited their maturity level. This is the goal of education, to open doors for children, to prepare them for a future filled with possibilities, and to allow them to discover the world around them, their place in it, and their path through it.

Why did we choose to get away from this?

In my opinion, today in the United States we use focus on standards based education to the point of exclusion of our higher performing students.

If you look at this study on High Acheiving Students in the era of NCLB from the Thomas B Forman Institute you'll see the researchers found

"the performance of top students was languid"

The problem with standardized testing as I see it, is you focus on those students who might pass, or students whose skill levels are just barely passing to assure they succeed. Where does this leave our highest achievers? It leaves them wanting out. The high achieving students who should focus on problem solving and creativity are forced to sit through lessons assuring that minimal skills are drilled often enough for those students who might not pass.

"Faced with a powerful incentive to boost the test scores of students on the borderline of proficiency—“bubble kids,” as they are sometimes termed—schools might be expected to focus resources on that point in the achievement distribution and neglect the extreme upper and/or lower ends"

There was a time when we taught kids to take something apart, discover it, feel how it works, learn how to mold it into something new, and figure out how this will make your world better. What happens to our world if we take that away? What happens to our future if we stop our brightest students from "wondering" in the classroom?

Can someone please pass out the chocolate?

Don't forget to purchase tickets to the LeakyCon "Dance the Night away" at Terminus. You can read about it here here, but the tickets are going fast, and you don't want to miss the hottest party in Chicago!

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Blogger Bio

Name: Doris
LeakyName: DorisTLC
House: Ravenclaw

Doris is a mom, a teacher and the Project Coordinator here at Leaky! While watching her children grow up she discovered a love for teaching students about her favorite things, reading and writing. (and chocolate, hence the title) You'll find this blog will be her thoughts (and the thoughts of a few guests) on her favorite things!

While this blog is primarily about HP and education, once and a while I might surprise you! If you have a subject you'd like us to talk about, please e-mail me!

If you want to check out what I'm reading, take a gander at my Shelfari Book Shelf. I'm sure you'll see some of those books pop up in my blog.

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