Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Ah ... Spring!

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Ah ... Spring!

Article excerpt

Why are No. 2 pencils synonymous with the onset of testing?

As I write this column I find myself in the most wondrous time of the year--standardized testing season. All across America flowers bloom, young birds learn to fly, teachers are sidelined and nauseous children, No. 2 pencil in-hand, hunch over tests of questionable value.

I could use this page to rail against the cruelty associated with demanding that every child pass a norm-referenced test (50 percent must be below average) or I could tell the tale of the Alabama teacher who was fired for refusing to withdraw his learning disabled students from school prior to standardized testing. We could discuss the incalculable costs--human, educational and financial--associated with test-mania or what's sacrificed when you "teach to the test." I could report on how insulted teachers across California feel as they are commanded to remove the materials on their walls and bulletin boards prior to the next battery of testing. Instead, I'd like to share a story a little closer to home--actually, from my own home.

A few weeks ago my seventh grade daughter, who for the sake of anonymity we will call Miffy, came home from school upset. Miffy loves school. She gets there early every day; does her homework, likes her teachers and gets good grades (my lack of genetic influence should be quite apparent by now). She was upset because the AB 65 scores came back that day. Best I can tell the AB 65 is a test so meaningless that they didn't even bother to name it. Perhaps next year's standardized test will just be called "Test" or maybe "Q." The AB 65 is a writing exam.

Miffy had reason to be upset. She got a 12 on the test and the teacher announced that she was the only one of his students to do so!

A 12 sounds pretty bad, but in the Through the Looking Glass World of California public education a 12 is a perfect score. Miffy's emotions consisted of one part pride and two parts humiliation when the teacher's "praise" turned her into sideshow attraction.

Then the fun really started!

Miffy's friends spent the rest of the day comparing scores with one another. Some kids who only scored an 8 or a 10 were upset, a few shed tears. …

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