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Re: [wccusdtalk] Re: OPT out of benchmark testing

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  • Eduardo Martinez
    I spend a lot of time debating with my students the validity of answers on standardized tests.  I also have difficulty knowing what answer is wanted in many
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 25, 2009
      I spend a lot of time debating with my students the validity of answers on standardized tests.  I also have difficulty knowing what answer is wanted in many cases and I don't consider myself to be dim.  At best the tests give me an opportunity to discuss cultural bias and logic.  We're able to see that logic leads to different conclusions if one operates from different assumptions and cultural bases. This conversation occurs with my brighter students, while the less developed either think they are truly idiots or insist that the test is bunk. What these tests measure is how well a test taker can predict the logic of the test maker, not how much they know.  Too much time is wasted on taking these tests.

      I am not saying these tests are without value, but I do believe too much emphasis is given to them.  I don't believe that there was no accountability before these tests became so invasive.  I knew which students were behind and which were advanced.  As far as incentive to change the unjust situation lack of funding has created in education, I have seen none generated.  In fact I see more jobs heaped upon teachers reducing their ability to work directly with the student, decreasing not increasing their ability to address the real job of teaching.

      --- On Wed, 3/25/09, Ralph Bedwell <bedwellr@...> wrote:

      From: Ralph Bedwell <bedwellr@...>
      Subject: [wccusdtalk] Re: OPT out of benchmark testing
      To: wccusdtalk@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 12:12 AM

      I'm one educator who totally disagrees with this point of view.

      Certainly, the tests themselves could always be improved, as could

      anything, but there is nothing inherently wrong with testing itself. On

      the contrary, the tests address the vital need to measure student

      progress in a systematic way. The major change that I would make to the

      process, had I the power to do so, would be to expand the testing

      process to include more emphasis on other subjects, such as history,

      science, and art, in order to encourage a more balanced curriculum than

      we have now.

      What's the alternative? To go back to the way things used to be? When

      there was no real accountability? When there was no way to show that

      some groups of kids were being left behind other groups of kids, thus

      creating no incentive to change that unjust situation? It was easy to

      neglect certain groups back in the day when there was no way to show

      that the achievement gap is real, substantial, and hard to bridge. Now

      that there is no longer any plausible deniability, we have a widespread

      mandate for change. AND we have a way to measure our progress toward

      that change.

      As for stripping educators of their creativity, that is indeed a

      problem. I lay the blame for that directly at the feet of canned,

      scripted curriculum programs, not standardized testing. Now, it may be

      that canned curriculum has come about as a response to the emphasis on

      testing, but it is not the inevitable consequence of testing. That is an

      important distinction to make. As I see it, the choices stood in stark

      contrast: "We have to get better, so what do we do? Increase teacher

      professionalism, or decrease meaningful teacher input?" Unfortunately,

      it seems as if the wrong choice was made, perhaps for political and

      financial reasons.

      I think we should keep the tests, expand them to include a broader range

      of subjects, make a serious effort to do what it takes to attract the

      best and brightest university graduates into the teaching profession,

      and give them the support they need to become and function as the true

      professionals that they could be. This includes better and ongoing

      professional development, proper implementation of technology into the

      curriculum, and most importantly the latitude to teach the content

      standards according to best practices, rather than from a half-baked


      We're doing better than we used to, and I think that is because of the

      tests, not in spite of them. However, we still have a long way to go.

      Please don't block your children from participating in the testing



      --- In wccusdtalk@yahoogro ups.com, Charles Rachlis <crachlis@.. .> wrote:



      > Benchmark and other standardized testing are replacing real teaching

      forcing our educators to "teach to the test". By allowing our children

      to take these tests we help maintain a system which strips educators of

      their creativity and forces our schools and our children into the test

      mold. These test are used to close "bad schools" and to identify "bad

      teachers". However these tests have long been known to be poor

      educational policy. The tests are biased due to demographic, ethnic,

      and racial differences. They do not test your children's intelligence.

      Our children's time would be better spent by the teachers working

      through the problems on the test or doing other lessons than taking

      theses tests. The scores were looked at during the school closure

      process to identify which schools should be closed. The lower scores

      often scare parents out of certain schools and districts resulting in

      under enrollment ultimately leading to closures and

      > justify the privatization of schools though opening of charters.

      > You have the right to opt out and break the testing cycle. If only

      15% of the parents opt out of the testing process the scores are no

      longer considered legitimate. I am opting out of testing by sending my

      daughter to school with a note that she is not to take the benchmark

      tests and you can too. Just write a letter to each teacher asking for

      lessons instead of testing and indicating that your child is not to take

      the test.


      > Charles Rachlis





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