Failure by the numbers

April 19, 2011

My son has just completed his first round of the Colorado
Student Assessment Program tests, Colorado's answer to No Child Left Behind. I
had to laugh (not without bitterness) when I read this recent comment by
President Obama: "One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just
teaching to the test." My son's school has spent agonized months in preparation
for this standardized test. They are not just "teaching to the test." As far as
I can tell, the test is the
curriculum.

The school has been under enormous pressure to escape its
"failing" moniker and move up in its achievement, which is judged solely by
test scores. Yet, as New York University professor Diane Ravitch pointed out
recently, "80 percent of our nation's public schools will be stigmatized as
failing, based on NCLB's stringent and totally unrealistic expectations." This
is, as Ravitch writes, "sheer madness." She goes on to explain how NCLB and
Colorado's program are built on faulty data, statistical maneuvering and
political gamesmanship.

Our superintendent of schools recently sent home a letter to
parents noting that she knows that we are concerned about our children's
"progress." I am, I guess. But I am concerned about a lot of other things as
well: the atmosphere of the school and the classroom, the well-being of my
son's teachers, the quality of education beyond numbers games. It is long past
time for a broader conversation about education, but I see few openings for
such a conversation in my own district.

Comments

I absolutely agree!! I have

I absolutely agree!! I have been told time and again in Indiana--small town. That they teach for the test. period. theya ren't concerned with the rest of the studies and developing study habits etc. because the test is what counts. The rest will jsut have to catch up on their own. Our schools are failing our children in a day and age where many families are not catching the needed elements that are falling through the cracks for the development of their children. This is a huge systemic problem we will not out live without taking intentional aggressive intervention.