State Imposed Standardized Testing

March 23, 2010 Uncategorized 14

I don’t know about all states, but in Florida we have state mandated standardized testing.  When our federal government come up with “No Child Left Behind” it was a concept that in theory was good.  We all want better schools for our children right?  Somewhere in the planning it became necessary for states to grade their schools, their teachers and so direct funding.
In the state of Florida we have FCAT, and while I’m not completely opposed to the testing it’s what we do with it that bothers me.  For one we use it to grade schools, those with a lower % lose funding, just what you need when you are already dealing with failing students.  Our state also uses the test results to permit graduation.  I know I’ve shared before that my daughters did score passing last year, their sophomore year in HS, so along with completing credits they are ready for graduation in 2011.  On the other hand every year there are students are are on the edge of not attaining this.  Students keep taking the reading and math portion until they pass in their 11th and 12th year.  They may also take the ACT and a score of 20 I believe will allow to graduate.
Another result of failing to pass the test in 8th grade and subsequent years is the need for remedial classes.  Our district once required summer school, but the funding was lost for that, and so now it’s just remedial reading classes, perhaps some math too, I’m not clear on that.  The problem is that students who want to do well, that are otherwise taking an Honors English class and working hard are in a remedial reading skills class with kids who do not give a damn.  I applaud how it looks, give them more skill training in reading comprehension, but the reality is that the student mix is all messed up and the kids that want to learn are not given enough when the instructor has to manage the students that are taking up space….UGH!!!
It’s a reality that not all students are college bound, some are going to go to tech schools, some are going to work in our communities and provide critical services.  Don’t we want them all to graduate from high school?  I know that testing is harder for some students, it’s not easy for my girls.  Imagine that you have worked hard to complete 30 credit hours, you have made passing grades, but you cannot pass that one test.  You are given a certificate of completion, similar to a GED and not a High School diploma.
I hate how our state does this.
We start testing these kids in 3rd grade, and we put so much stress and emphasis on it that we always here about kids with so much anxiety they can’t do well.  Is this what we want from our schools? To teach to the test? To worry more about those scores that the day in and day out learning that needs to be taking place?
Do you have similar tests and horror stories in your state?

14 Responses to “State Imposed Standardized Testing”

  1. My name is PJ.

    The system is, indeed, imperfect, but in this country, our high school graduates used to be able to fly under the radar when they failed to learn at the minimal level required.

    I’m appalled when I read high school kids’ papers today…and I do get to read them on occasion. Grammar? Spelling? What are those? And math? It’s pathetic.

    I’m tired of having to dumb things down just to communicate with young people. Vocabulary? What’s that?

    This fabulous country we live in offers an education that can’t hold a candle to that offered in the European countries.

    So, I guess the question remains, how do we improve the situation? I have no answers.

  2. mama-face

    We have the same system in our state. I remember taking the same sort of tests back in the olden days. (I loved filling in those little circles with my #2 pencil. I know, weird). But now the focus seems to be more on how well the school does then how the student performs individually. I love the notes that are sent home advising us parents to make sure our kids get enough sleep and eat nutritional food during testing times. Cuz that is so the opposite of how we normally are?

    Does the testing have any effect on bad teachers keeping their jobs? I wonder about that.

    Okay, about the ACT testing. My 3 oldest all scored over 20, but one just barely above that. And she excelled in college and is an R.N. now. My point is, isn’t that a rather harsh restriction? Although I guess that could be a good motivator. Okay, I just re-read that part of your post and I think I missed the point…but I’ll let my ranting stay. haha. I could have used more testing obviously.

    (the picture…it’s not me per se…but still me. You know what I mean). Longest comment ever). 🙂

  3. Kristen

    I don’t know how it’s done in Texas, b/c well, my boys haven’t even started school yet…but in NY, where I’m from there is standardized testing that started in elementary school. In NY there are 2 types of graduation diplomas…a ‘General’ and a ‘Regeants’ diploma. The ‘not so bright’ were pushed to only attain the general diploma and the brighter children were pushed for the other…the other was much harder to achieve with a bunch of additional electives and sequences that you had to get.

  4. Anita

    Fortunately, my kids attend one of the “better” public schools, and they are meeting the Virginia SOL (Standards of Learning) requirements. But, I totally understand your frustration with the system.
    How do we address the specific needs of our children? I wish I were more adept on this subject.
    Interesting post. I’ll have to continue to read the comments of your readers.

  5. Casey

    In Texas we have the TAKS test and it starts in Elementary school. When I was in school it was called the TAAS test but they changed it.

    When you are in high school in order to graduate you have to pass the TAKS test. I believe it starts in 4th grade but I am not sure. I am not a big fan of standardized testing or at least the way it is currently being done.

  6. Crazy Mom of Three

    I am sooooo tired of the students who choose to just take up space, and more so, their parents. I went to school with many of these types (I called them “hall bacteria” back then … because they were like mold growing in the hallways and that was about it; heck, they even hung from the light fixtures on the ceiling as bacteria might during study hall! They used to also gyrate down the halls while making strange noises with their mouths … maybe they were animals and not bacteria … who really knows as only 25 percent of that school graduates each year … Anyway, now my child is going to school with these types of people as well. I think it is all of the years of “tolerating” these types of young people that have me truly in a state of actual disgust about No Child Left Behind and standardized testing too. In my opinion, it is just another reason why government should not run any program of quality here in America.

  7. Crazy Mom of Three

    I also feel our public school teaches to the test and I am really unimpressed with what is acceptable as far as written work as well. Honestly, as a 6th grader in public school, what is required is not that much more than what parish school required of my son in 2nd grade … sad huh! But every day for morning work they do test-oriented questions. That actually isn’t a bad way to teach to the test though. They do try and the public school is really one of the better ones in our big city.

  8. Beth

    As a teacher this has been hashed and rehashed,,, seriously if you want change…go to the people you vote for… get them to change it! It hurts me when people cut on the teachers like that… we are given orders and need to obey… we are public servants… I don’t know if you have actually seen a 11th grade math test question…but that test here in MN is not easy! In MN the kids are learning algebra in Kindergarten… not 8th grade…so out of all the bad comes some good high quality stuff! I hate the tests…but it is my job!

  9. Andrea

    FCAT is ridiculous, the way the teachers stress the kids out to the point anxiety attacks. That is why we decided to homeschool Logan. I never thought I would ever do that but when we moved to Florida I couldn’t believe the pressure they put on the kids, even in 1st grade. I mean I do testing with Logan every year but FCAT is just too much.

  10. Denise K.

    Hello Anita!

    Oh I just love your new blog look, and I so look forward to getting all caught up on your life! I have missed you and apologize for being so slow around here!

    We have the CSAP in Colorado and this was the first year our 3rd grader was tested. Our 8th grader has felt such pressure this year as they are tested. Since he will be in high school next year this is all unchartered territory for us. The pressure to qualify for all honors classes, to score well on state tests, to make sure he qualifies for a good college, is all a real pressure he feels and is often self imposed. Whew, I find it stressful too and want to have high expectations, yet find a balance where happiness and having a social life is just as important for teens.

    Thanks for your post and bringing attention to this subject!

    Miss you much friend,
    Denise 🙂

  11. sheila

    Oh yes. Ohio too. Probably all 50 I’d guess. They have to test so much that there’s no room for recess or gym. Then they wonder why american youth are too fat.

  12. Pam

    We have a lot of standardized testing here in RI as well. All thanks to No Child Left Behind. The teachers put a lot of emphasis on these tests and sometimes it really does stress the kids out. Especially when they are in elementary school. Eventually the kids figure out the test is really more about how well the teachers are doing and then they stop trying. (They don’t have to pass a test to a graduate. Thank goodness). I think all this testing is actually hurting our children’s education.

    As for needing to pass that test to graduate, I think it terrible to put so much emphasis on one test. If the child has completed the credits and passed the required classes they should get there diploma. As you said, not everyone is going to college and not everyone is good at taking tests.

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