Some Education Activist Sites FYI

FlowergirlDeb2April 25, 2002

I am posting these couple of addresses because I hope to recieve both comments and interested parents and teachers. I AM NOT DOING HOMEWORK, really, this is just ME! Needless to say I have gratefully found these places and am joining. Enjoy! Keep an open mind too!!:)

I can only link one.

Here's another......http://www.nceaonline.org

Here is a link that might be useful: Fairtest: The National Center for Fair & Open Testing

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onehappymeal

"Standardized tests.........are harmful to children."
That was all I needed to read to exit the Fairtest website. Propaganda is what I call it.

As for NCEA.......whenever I see "activist" as part of an organization's name, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It's been my experience that "activist" usually means "extremist."

    Bookmark   April 26, 2002 at 3:41PM
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Shaggyhill

Flowergirl,
I don't visit this forum very often, so if you ever need some help defending the "testing is usless" thought, give me a call : ) As a public school teacher, I have found that schools have used a great deal of propaganda to convince parents that what they are doing is useful. Most teachers teach things and skills that have no value in the real world -- they only help students do well in the next grade. We have come up with a system that rewards students for having skills that are only useful until they turn 18. There is no standardized test that tests skills that are used in real jobs. I have friends that work in jobs ranging from manual labor to the law -- the skills they utilize are not included on any test -- including the one I had to take to become a teacher. Not to mention the fact that I have never seen a test help any student I have ever had (1000 +). I do not need a test to tell me a student has reading problems. Also if anyone ever learned how tests were scored...the scoring system is changed every year so you cannot compare your childs 6th grade scores to the 8th grade scores, or track a whole class through elementary to middle school. That's something parents (and teachers) are not usually told.
Arghhh!!
Peace!
Paul

    Bookmark   April 28, 2002 at 8:43PM
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FlowergirlDeb2

THANK YOU PAUL!!! I will!!!!! Fell free to check back now and then to assist me!:)
Happymeal, you are letting your closed mind take over I see...you must get past the first sentence before you judge. And Activists are people trying to make CHANGE, sometimes they are extremists, but in the case of our children's education I would HOPE that people would seriously consider some words of Professionals in the education and psychology fields who do the research regarding these tests and the possible affects they can have on our children and their schooling.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2002 at 1:24AM
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Mommabear

I know that when I am looking to research a topic I look for facts and for opinions that are well reasoned. I also look for sites that present both sides of a controversial issue so I can make up my mind. Well designed studies count for a lot more than the ranting of some educator who feels slighted by the fact that they have to do something they don't like.

The thing that turned me off from the Fairtest site is that they appear to have tunnelvision. There is no middle ground, and they DO NOT present any evidence that there may be another side to their issue. That indicates that THEIR MINDS are closed. Any site which is not willing to consider other opinions (dismiss them, but don't ignore them) is useless regardless of the substance of their argument.

Mommabear

    Bookmark   May 1, 2002 at 9:57AM
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FlowergirlDeb2

And the proponents of standardized testing don't find a thing wrong with them of course. Are they closed minded as well????
The majority of people just take what they see at face value, there are usually two sides, and in this case I believe it is in any parents best interest to at least PONDER what the OTHER side says about these tests and their potential harm.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2002 at 12:17AM
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Lynn_Riley

How can you say Standardized testing doesn't measure anything about the child and what he has learned? What is on these tests? Well there is Math, language,Reading and other skills and subjects, that certainly will be needed in Life. If ALL the teachers were teaching what they were suppose to , then maybe standarized testing wouldn't be used or needed so much?
Also aren't you suppose to teach things that children will need to know something about- in the next grade??
I have never heard of a child that made good on these tests and was not intelligent- of course some may not make good grades at times, but that can be because of Laziness on their part, or not caring to do the work required.
Others at times that make good grades one year might not do as well on the tests. But all in all it's a good measure of what the child/ children have learned. The items on the test are needed subjects, especially if they go on to college.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2002 at 7:45AM
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two_munkeys

Why does FairTest not scientifically reference their data? Makes it sound more like an opinion than fact.
How can I check out their sources and get the WHOLE story, not just their version of it?
Here's an article by someone who took the words right out of my mouth re FairTest. I especially agree with the author's take on equality vs. fairness.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.equityfeminism.com/education/education_002.html

    Bookmark   May 3, 2002 at 8:44AM
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Mommabear

Excellent comment. A bit better worded than my answer. I think that you do need to ponder both sides of a question. However, a site like Fairtest doesn't allow that. All it gives is one side. As a parent you need to find unbiased information (Fairtest is not unbiased) and then make your decision based on what is before you. Fairtest doesn't give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Mommabear

    Bookmark   May 3, 2002 at 10:24AM
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FlowergirlDeb2

Interesting article, interesting comments, and I will always disagree with standardized testing!:)
Lynn, there IS research on the possible harmful affects of these tests...the research is done by PROFESSIONALS, teachers, college Professors, Doctors, Psych. experts of all kinds....it's too late here or I would find some for you, check back within the week after I do my own studying for tests for finals!:)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2002 at 1:18AM
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trekaren

After reading many responses on the various threads, I think:
It should not be all or nothing.
There should be some type of meaurement done of how schools are doing, and how the children are doing.

I do not think it should be tied directly to funding because when the almighty $ comes into the picture, judgment gets skewed.

I do think there are problems, but I do not think 'no standardized testing' is the answer. I think standardizing standardized tests is in order, as is removing funding from the direct testing equation.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2002 at 8:05AM
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Mommabear

TREKaren:

I think we have to separate standardized testing from its uses. I think some of the uses of standardized testing are downright stupid. Here in Florida if a school does poorly on its standardized tests funding can be reduced. How does that make any sense to anyone?

However, the correct response is to stop using test scores in a stupid manner, not to stop admininstering the tests.

Flowergirl-it's ok for you to have an opinion on testing. The world would be a better place if more people actually took the time to think about things and actually have an opinion. So many people just don't care about anything and that is a sin.

Mommabear

    Bookmark   May 6, 2002 at 10:43AM
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trekaren

Interesting article from today's Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Bethune has 'No Excuses'
Paul Donsky - Staff
Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Bethune Elementary sits in the shadow of the Georgia Dome and gets most of its students from the impoverished Vine City community nearby.

But Bethune's students did well on last year's state curriculum test --- so well, in fact, the school was named yesterday by a local think tank as one of 24 low-income schools across the state that performed much better than expected on the curriculum test.

"We don't accept the notion that children who come from impoverished environments can't succeed," Bethune Principal Rosemary Hamer said. "They can achieve as well as anybody else."

The "No Excuses Schools" list is put together each year by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. The foundation uses a statistical analysis to measure how well schools perform on the curriculum test, considering the socioeconomic makeup of the student body.

"We clearly think all children can learn, and that we can close the learning gap" between rich and poor schools, said Holly Robinson, senior vice president with the public policy foundation.

At Bethune last year, the vast majority of fourth-grade students met or exceeded state standards on the curriculum test --- 87 percent in reading, 98 percent in English and 85 percent in math.

How did they do it? Hamer pointed to several things, including an intensive reading program and extra effort by social workers to boost attendance.

The "No Excuses Schools" are: Atlanta city --- Bethune, Beecher Hills, Capitol View, Cascade, Dobbs, F.L. Stanton, M.A. Jones, Peyton Forest and West Manor elementary schools, and Inman Middle School; Decatur City --- Oakhurst Elementary at Fifth Avenue; DeKalb County --- Glen Haven and Nancy Creek elementary schools.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 11:31AM
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trekaren

And another good article showing how the results can be mis-applied or mis-used and not show the 'big picture'.

Students matter more than labels
Staff
Tuesday, May 7, 2002

When politicians dabble in education, two outcomes are assured: more bureaucracy and more tests.

It's too early to tell whether all the new rules and tests coming out of simultaneous federal and state reform movements will ultimately enliven education for kids or deaden it. But it's already clear that the first wave of reforms designed to hold schools "accountable" has only befuddled parents and raised questions about what constitutes a "failing" school.

A few weeks ago, a list of so-called low-performing schools was released by the state Department of Education. Some pretty good schools made the list, shocking parents and upsetting principals.

The list reflected only one indicator of school performance: whether at least 5 percent of the lowest-performing students saw gains this year on the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.

So, Midway Elementary School in Forsyth County ended up on the list even though its overall scores were above the state average, with about 90 percent of fourth-graders passing state tests in reading and English last year, and more than 80 percent passing the math exam.

The state and federal governments ought to compel schools to focus more on their most at-risk students.

Georgia, in particular, has seen its poorest children suffer academically because of a lack of clear standards, measurement and accountability. The challenge is pushing schools to work harder with these children without applying labels that demoralize teachers and distort what may be occurring in the school overall.

Back when Georgia began discussing education reform, politicians were urged to use standardized testing to diagnose weaknesses in student learning rather than to reward or punish schools. Researchers pointed to strong evidence that overzealous testing narrows curriculum, stifles innovation and reduces instruction to rote drill.

Lawmakers dismissed the diagnostic argument and trumpeted test scores as a way to brand schools. Kids in failing schools are supposed to have outs, including transfer to other high-performing public schools in their districts. What politicians never mentioned is that most of those high-performing schools are bursting at the seams, so transfers will be severely limited.

That leaves kids right back where they started --- at their original schools, which now have been publicly disparaged as failing.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 11:49AM
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Arkansasgardenboy

Do we rely too much on what we hear? I have to be shown the whole picture to know the whole story.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 12:27PM
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trekaren

You do? Seems like all you seem to have needed so far is a URL.

(sorry, but had to come back with a wisecrack)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 12:33PM
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Arkansasgardenboy

Does this need a response? No

    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 1:23PM
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anita9

Neat articles Karen. It is interesting that part of the reason for the school overperforming was social workers empahsizing attendance. That is not really related to test preparation (except that kids are there to do it), and it could have been done before there were any tests. But no one would have recognized it. And they probably didn't do it before the tests, because they knew no one would notice and they too wouldn't have had any way to judge the impact.

It is true, too, that schools need to work on the underperforming students. 5% seems like a low number. It probably amounts to about one kid in each class. I would have thought it would be more like the lower 25%.

In Seattle we have open admissions too, and the same problem - they can't all go to the good schools. Plus, the good schools concentrate in certain neighborhoods. I grew up in a small town within walking distance of all the schools. I can't imagine that life as a kid would be fun if I had to travel 15 miles each way through some of the worst traffic in the country, even if I did get to go to a good school.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 2:07PM
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    Bookmark   May 7, 2002 at 3:21PM
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trekaren

I'm posting this link not because I'm against standardized testing in and of itself, but because the article gives a striking picture of how a good concept has gone awry, due to how the results are misused, and how the almighty $$ is contributing to the misuse.

CNN Article

    Bookmark   May 8, 2002 at 8:19AM
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Arkansasgardenboy

Is this another smoke screen?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2002 at 8:38AM
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