Alfie Kohn site

FlowergirlDeb2April 11, 2002

Hi it's me!

I'm posting a link with an article written by Alfie Kohn, if anyone is interested...the article is of course in regards to Standardized Testing. Feedback is appreciated!:)

Here is a link that might be useful: Alfie Kohn Article

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My imput:
I don't consider anyone doing good on these achievement tests as shallow thinkers. Before the teacher ever began the "teaching to the test" years back,there were students that did very well on these tests. Many times children that are deep thinkers do well on these tests. Some may not do as well.

I do believe there are students that aren't good test takers, as you have stated.. So, all in all achievement tests do not tell everything about a child.
But there has to be some measure to take on what is being taught in the school that will be useful in years to come and in Life in general.

There are not tons of jobs out there for people that are totally for "Free thinkers". There are basics that must be learned. In grammar school, Jr. High and through out High school.

I agree a class will benefit from the teacher if he/she reviews material which the students don't understand. I am for that as I am sure every parent is.
I can't believe anyone would believe in
telling students to guess on the answer on these testings. Of course it does go on. But a child would just have to be very unusually lucky and rare to guess the correct answers on these type of tests, and make good. But it could possibly happen but sooner or later on the next test this guessing on test would catch up with the student. I don't believe any teacher wants her class to guess at answers. She wants them to know and feel confident they know the answers.
Sometimes you may have a child one year that doesn't do that well on a test and the following year because of maturing or because the child is trying his/her best they do very well on the tests. This is not uncommon at all.

I think there is time for "Teaching the Basics" along with critical thinking. There has to be room for both.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2002 at 1:56AM
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You are right. I agree with you on your thoughts.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2002 at 12:55PM
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What would you suggest we do. No evaluations?


    Bookmark   April 12, 2002 at 3:21PM
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If you are writing about my response I think you misread my response. Yes, I am for testing. But no, it doesn't tell everything about a child. Yes, there may be years when children are younger or less mature or just happen to have a bad day at school that they do not do as well, as they might do the following year. This is not uncommon.

I think testing is a very useful tool. And it is needed. But the standardized test are just that test that are suppose to show what the majority of the children have learned and just how well they have learned.

I am for "Teaching the Basics" first. By that I am meaning to teach Reading, Writing, Math, English, History, Geography,Science. Other things that aren't the basic like the "Arts" and perhaps "Additional Information 'advanced' in any of the basics mentioned above" or studies in any additional science or other suject should be just that extra.
If the "Basics" are studied then the average child should achieve well on the test. He/she should be at their grade level or above their grade level.

Some children may be at their grade level but just aren't good at shading in those circles with their number 2 pencils :-) Or their Number 2 pencils might break, or they on a real bummer day , after having a bad experience with the first No. 2 pencil, lose their second no. 2 pencil, and are afraid or unsure whether they should ask for an additional pencil. This sort of bummer day could make the child not even complete the test!
I am not making these things up, these sort of things DO Happens!
You can't always tell , just by the test alone. But they are needed, to give a general overall view of what a majority of the children know, and are taught.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2002 at 8:32PM
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Of course the basics NEED to be taught, but the Standardized testing is biased......there are poor and violent neighborhoods where they are threatened with closing if their students don't "do well" on these tests, when I believe that getting home safe and maybe even actually having a meal for the day are priorities for these kids, NOT studying for a test! If these children's BASIC needs aren't met than how can they possibly think of their test performance?? And what about the threats of closing down school's if the students don't score up to "standards" on the test? Then what??

    Bookmark   April 12, 2002 at 11:09PM
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My reaction was to Alfie Kohn's website, not your response. Sorry to be so abrupt.

I don't think the tests are meant to tell EVERTHING about a child. Just how well the child did on the test. There is much more to a child than his/her test scores. However, we need to do a purely academic assessment of the kids to see where they stand. Some of the uses of the test scores are indeed specious, but that doesn't mean the test themselves are useless.


We can't bring every child down to the level of the kids who are in the worst situations. The purpose of standardized tests are NOT to ensure that the kids parents take care of them. I feel sorry for kids who live in places where there is nobody to take care of them properly. However, that is not an excuse for not testing them.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2002 at 4:39PM
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Mommabear, the only problem is that these underprivlidged children are being tested with no concern from the school districts, local governments, etc, as to the circumstances surrounding their scores! Which for me, is one reason that these tests are biased. Did ANYONE think that there were ANY valid points on the Alfie Kohn site????? Anything that made you think for a minute, or get angry or question?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2002 at 11:21PM
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The tests are not meant to address social issues. They are meant to assess who is doing well and who is not. NOT TO SAY WHY THAT IS SO. There is no test in the world that will just magically make the problems of a poor underclass disappear. If poor kids don't get breakfast, or don't have proper parental supervision that is a tragedy. But it really has NOTHING to do with the testing. The tests measure the effects of living such a life, but they do NOT cause them to exist. They do nothing to alleviate the root cause of these problems, nor are the supposed to. That is a much bigger issue than standardized testing. There is no school in the world that can counter the effects of living where nobody cares about your success. Testing or not testing these kids will make NO difference.

I have said in the past that some of the things these tests are used for are stupid. I don't see the sense of taking money away from schools that are already doing poorly and giving the money to schools that are already doing well. I just don't think that a poor political process is a reason to stop assessing the academic progress of all kids.

I think the Alfie Kohn article is opinion dressed up as academic research.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2002 at 9:32AM
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I got stuck at the first paragraph about socio-economic status. They discuss factoring in SES to evaluate the "true" score.


Either the child knows the material or he doesn't. Does factoring in SES with the scores change the level of knowledge and skill the child possesses, or change the quality of that school from which a low set of scores came?

Ok, proceeding past the first two paragraphs, hesitantly.

Alfie is predisposed to his own conclusion, because early on, he states:
"We must make the fight against standardized tests our top priority because, until we have chased this monster from the schools, it will be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to pursue the kinds of reforms that can truly improve teaching and learning."
This predisposition makes me tend to want to challenge his stats with research of my own. Flowergirldeb, I recommend that, as you strive to your goal of becoming an educator, that you challenge everything you read and hear, with a healthy amount of doubt - enough doubt to check facts and stats for yourself. Every writer in the public forum has their own agenda, and may gather and display only those stats that support their own agenda.

I agree that tests and their results are being misused, and that some teachers forego some curriculum to 'teach to the test'.

However, throwing out the test is not the answer. The test, in and of itself, is not the cause of the problem. Each parent must stay involved in their local boards of education meetings, and PTA/PTO's, and in their children's schools. When evidence of misuse is seen, address it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2002 at 11:20AM
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Good advice TREKaren.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2002 at 9:46PM
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I agree with the standardized testing. It is what is used. I just meant in grammar school sometimes the child might not do as good one year as another. I know I didn't state that correctly.

Many times the standardized test CAN tell about the teacher also. One child of mine that always made in the 90 % category on the Standford Achievement test ( that is the upper 10%) One year when she had the worst teacher that only got page 30 of the 300 page MATH BOOK- she made 77% instead of in the upper 90's on her test. The teacher that year thought it was great! My daughter had made the highest in Math on the test in her class. (I wonder why??) I had helped her but was trying to provide her with books and having a younger child come in with reading etc.
The child (daughter)that year made straight A+ , but I wasn't impressed.

I worked on the Math that summer and the next year she again made in the upper 90's in everything. So, I DO think the Achievement test as well, can many at times tell if the teacher is teaching or not. Without my help that year my daughter may have made in the 30-40% range even though she has a high I.Q.

This test tells what the child learned, either by what he/she was taught , or by if the child paid attention and learned, but not an I.Q. test. Or as a child I know did in the earlier grades did on His test , he just marked "C"s on every answer and so doing NOT very good. This of course did not tell a whole lot of anything about the child,THAT YEAR this is an exception to the rule though.
(Someone told this child that most of the answers were usually "C" so he saw just didn't even read the questions and shaded in the "C" 'sounds like something that would be on "Leave It to Beaver" doesn't it :) This is an unusual case. And like I said before some very young children that have not taken this sort of test may have trouble with shading in the circles one year, but the following year they should catch on enough to know what to do.

This test is needed to test both the student and to help determine if the teacher is doing his/her job also.

Did you not have to take an ACT test or a SAT test to enter college??? No one let you in without one(?)
These type of tests are expected in Life. And if you are a teacher of any kind - for children in this country -(at an accredited school)you will be expected to give achievement tests, whether you like them or not. You will probably not have a choice in this matter.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2002 at 10:18PM
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Actually, Lynn, the Universities of California (all of them - Berkely, UCLA, UC Davis, etc.), the biggest and many would say the most prestigious system of research universities in the country, no longer require SAT scores for admission.

Here is a link to a speech by Richard Atkinson, the president of the Universities:

A quote:

"Aptitude tests such as the SAT I have a historical tie to the concept of innate mental abilities and the belief that such abilities can be defined and meaningfully measured. Neither notion has been supported by modern research. Few scientists who have considered these matters seriously would argue that aptitude tests such as the SAT I provide a true measure of intellectual abilities."

Here is a link that might be useful: Atkinson speech

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 2:54AM
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Well unless you want to travel or live where the few colleges that don't require the tests are located. You have to deal with the test to enter MOST colleges.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 1:49PM
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Well, there are several other colleges that don't require the SAT, such as Bard and Cornell in NY and Reed in Oregon, but often they are pretty competitive and average students couldn't get in anyway.

A great option for anyone who doesn't want to take the SATs or does poorly on them is to go to community college - they never require SAT scores. Once you have your two-year degree at a community college, most states have agreements where you can automatically transfer into state universities if your GPA is high enough, even the most competitive state universities. Even in states without these agreements, most colleges don't require SAT scores from any transfer students, since they have already proven what they can do in college. And, you are considered a transfer student after earning just 45 credits - one year at a community college.

I went to a few community college classes while I was in high school, and the experience was really rewarding, and I think, in a way, that it would be a better experience for a person who just graduated high school than attending a big university would be. Going to classes with adults who are working, and have children, and paying for their own schooling, really makes you realize what the value of an education is. Going to classes with a bunch of 18- and 19- year old kids who are being supported by their parents but living on their own, well, you can have a lot of fun (I know I did). Anyway, I didn't mean to go off on a tangent, I just meant to say that it is really not hard at all to get into a good four-year-college without taking the SATs.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2002 at 2:19PM
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It is according to how far you want to travel, or just where you live . I know this because I have 2 children who attended college, one a Jr. College and anther a regular college. Every college they applied for in This state required the score of their ACT test. I think a majority of colleges do. I had to take the test to get into college years ago.

It has to do with which college you want to attend. I am sure my daughter could have entered any college that she wanted to, but she chose to stay in state and go to college.

I understand and know about how you can transfer grades from a Jr. College to a four year college. But Jr. Colleges in this state require the ACT test.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2002 at 9:17AM
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I'm going to loose track here on my responses I just know it!:)
First, I did NOT have to take the ACT or SAT test for college. I'm at a Community college right now and this fall I will be attending a University where I had the option to apply as an "adult" student and nothing from your high school education is required if you have been out of high school for at least 8 years. To be honest I was a terrible student myself in high school, and I remember taking the ACT but I couldn't tell you ANYTHING specific about it. Also, because I began my academic career interested in psychology and have since decided (with some guidence from a Professor of mine who is an Educational Psychologist) to pursue a degree in elem. ed. partially because I want to work with children and somehow incorporate my interests in art therapy and ecopsychology into the classroom. The bottom line is that I want to somehow help influence children and introduce them to healthy, non-traditional ways of learning and discovering. I believe that learning takes place especially when children can have their "hands on" an activity, and especially when the lesson or activity encourages individual experssion and exploration, because this can create more MEANING which enhances their motivation for learning.
I need to address mommabear's post. The standardized tests are culturally biased, and it's not fair, and even though it doesn't directly affect you or the school's in your community, it is a fact. These tests put the children who have to take them in an awful and certainly unfair position with consequences that are unfair and unjust as well. The poorer the school the lower the scores, the more of a chance their doors will close.
I also have examined both sides of this issue in order to form my own opinions, and I stick to what I said when I began this whole deal, the standardized tests are something that I think should NOT be required in our schools. There is evidence stating the harm and the bias, and it's probably because the reasons these tests are "bad" are rooted in psychology would be why I am on the "side" that I am. Forgive me, it's late! Thanks!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2002 at 11:57PM
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Yes, but what if you are required to give the standardized tests? Just what would you do then, if this was required of you as a teacher?(It is required of many teachers)

I hope that you do incorporate the basics into your learning program as well.

I know of no college in my area that does not require that an ACT or other test be taken before entering college. Perhaps because you took the test long ago-the requirement of the test was fulfilled, no matter the score.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2002 at 9:15AM
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I KNOW that as a teacher I will have to give my students the Standardized tests, however, I DO NOT intend on emphasizing their supposed importance, and I would not revolve my lessons around the tests content. I do not agree with these tests, but I understand that I am required to follow the rules or obey the law and of course would do so even though I disagree.
Our community college does NOT require you to take the SAT or ACT upon registering for classes, but they do have their own placement test. I did not need to submit any test scores or proof that I took the SAT or ACT for the University that I will be attending this fall though, they don't require it if you are an adult student and have been out of high school for over 8 years.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2002 at 8:09PM
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My daughter is a teacher and "Yes" she is "Required" to teach items that are involved in the test content.

I mean it's not like YOU get to decide this at times. And there is that something called "Tenure" that you just might not get if you don't do whatever the school system you teach at requires. Or worse you could get fired for not following directions, before the tenure situation ever came about.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2002 at 11:16PM
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If you want to keep your job you will teach what the principal tells you to teach. The teachers are GIVEN the curriculum. They usually have some latitude on HOW they cover the subject matter, but the subject matter is not of their choosing. So if certains days are meant to be "test prep" days, you will have to comply.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 10:32AM
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Yes but according to my father who is ALSO a teacher, and to my Professor who is an Educational Psychologist, I DO NOT have to "Teach to the test" specifically to anyone's RULES, I may teach the material however I want to in my classroom. I disagree with "HAVING" to "COMPLY" with anything when it comes to teaching styles, and more than one person close to me has assurred me that I will have freedom in my classroom to help my children learn and discover material pretty much in my own terms providing they meet the basic cirriculum...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2002 at 11:15PM
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Well if you can find that unusual school that lets you do what you want and how you want....go for it.
Good luck finding it :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 7:53AM
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But the basic curriculum will include teaching the kids to fill in the bubble completely if you teach 1st graders. They do NOT know how to do this properly and you will have to teach them. I admit this didn't take up lots of time, but it was covered in 1st grade.

The basic curriculum will include teaching the kids to read a paragraph and glean the "main idea". This is a big part of the reading tests. You WILL have to teach this whether you like it or not.

The basic curriculum will include some worksheets on the type of math problems that are found on the standardized tests.

Nobody will tell you HOW to teach this material, but the material will be provided TO YOU. You WILL have to teach it whether you agree with it or not.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 8:43AM
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Maybe I should go work in some "Hippee" school or something.........:)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2002 at 6:45PM
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