Local Article about ISAT scores

FlowergirlDeb2November 18, 2002

In this breif article that was only a small part of our local Thursday paper, does ANYONE see any mention of the CHILDREN?????

Have any other parents gotten results from these tests, or were they only released here in Chicago last week? Isn't it evil to rate the schools and publish these results? I just know I'm in for it!

Here is a link that might be useful: ISAT Local Article

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The link doesn't work, Deb.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 1:26AM
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Why are you in for it? What is evil about publishing test scores per school?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 3:07AM
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What is evil about ranking schools based on test scores?


    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 9:45AM
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I agree that sometimes test scores are published in an irresponsible manor. A newspaper or politician gets the scores and creates a biased story using them, rather than simply informing.

But as a parent, taxpayer, and contributor to public schools, I want to know the scores. Not so much school A compared to school B, but I want to know my children's school this year compared to last year. When the school hold fundraisers to obtain a new program or tool, when money is spent on hiring a special area teacher, when the school wants parental support of these an other decisions... it is with the understanding that it will improve the quality of education. I expect hard evidence, not anecdotal theories, that the plan is working.

The scores are a useful tool when used responsibly. Both to see improvement and to evaluate the effectiveness of various programs from school to school.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 10:29PM
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If you are moving to a new area you might want to compare School A to School B.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 5:38AM
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I can't get the link to work for some reason!! At any rate, publishing these "results" doesn't prove one school is "better" than the other. If you ever see results published in your area take notice that the schools in the higher income areas always have "better" scores, and the very schools that NEED to stay open and NEED assistance with some kind of reform are always at the bottom of the list. It's biased, it's screaming social status, it's not right and in my opinion it's not fair. And, what about individuality? Shouldn't students be considered individuals instead of mere numbers? These "tests" haven't been around forever, HOW did we ever get by without them??!(Sarcasam.)I will work on that list, or scan the article and post so you can all read it, and I also have some more info. that supports my personal opinions if anyone is interested. I have school soon myself, but I will post tonight!!:)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 10:26AM
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Flowergirl, I know you do not like standardized tests or the "grading" of schools. I presume you either do not think there is value in determining what these tests are trying to determine, or you believe there is a better way to determine the effectiveness of schools and teachers.

Do you think there is ANY value in determining if a particular teacher is effective for a particular child? Or is effective for the majority of his/her students? If there is value in this, how would YOU determine the effeciveness of a teacher?

Is there ANY value in determining whether or not a school is effective for one child? Or effective for the majority of the children attending the school? If you think this might be of value, how would YOU determine the school's effectiveness?

I highly doubt anyone thinks that standardized tests and "grading" of schools is a perfect system. It seems to be the best attempt at school accountabily we have at the moment. What, if anything, would you replace it with?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 11:38AM
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It is important to determine what should be taught and guarantee it is being taught by talented teachers. Then students should be tested to see if they learned what we think we taught them. If there is a kink in the system that needs attention, then the test ought to help us locate that "kink" and fix it. Whether a student is from a rich or poor family, from a suburban or rural or urban neighborhood, has educated and caring parents or not, we need to expect him or her to learn, and we need to understand how to help him or her learn. And then, when he or she grows up to become our doctor, plumber, child's teacher, or the pilot of the plane we are on, we will be assured that he or she learned what was necessary to do the job well. Some kids must struggle to get ahead, but we must not make excuses for them and write them off. I do believe the best predictor of a child's ease at learning is the family. If the family has expectations and standards for that child, no matter the education level of the parents, that child will achieve. If the parents are well educated and work with their children, success will be even easier to achieve. It is just plain hard work to be an effective parent.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 11:41PM
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Duckie- I truly WANT to (very badly in fact) address your questions, however, I don't think that tonight I would serve my own beliefs justice because I am too tired to concentrate. Check back, I certainly do have some opinions on how things could be different, and better for the students.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2002 at 12:40AM
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ok, I will answer your questions, Duckie.
I can't honestly answer the first question, "Do you think there is any value in determining if a particluar teacher is effective for a particular child?" I can give an opinion, only because the standardized tests do not necessarily mean that the teacher isn't "good", teachers are put in an awful position by having to administer these tests. THEY CAN REFUSE to give it to their students, but realistically it's not in their best interest if they want to keep their job.
Determining the "value" of a particular teacher isn't the topic here. BUT, if the teacher is following a Traditional method of schooling, then you can be certain that she/he is doing more harm than good for the students.
THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE TEACHER IS BAD, OR A BAD PERSON. I'm NOT saying that, my own father runs his classroom in a traditional method, and I love him but I fiercely disagree with his teaching style.
Here is what a traditional- when I say "traditional" I mean Old school, here are some characteristics of this type of classroom/school that are harmful to the kids:
-Emphasizing Facts: Students are required to MEMORIZE material, which may prove that they have what it takes to put something into memory, BUT cramming your head with facts does NOT make you a "better learner." Valuable time is wasted when teachers require kids to memorize a spelling list or their multiplication tables, there is no communication, analyizing, drawing connections, or real MEANING behind this tactic.
-"Practice Makes Perfect"- Children are made to do something over and over- "skills require drills", this is another waste of time where children could be actually thinking instead of doing a worksheet similar to the one they had the day before, and the day before that. This also requires VERY LITTLE work from the teacher, it's EASIER.
-GET THE RIGHT ANSWER: Memorizing and practicing skills are based on the idea that ANSWERS ARE EITHER CORRECT OR INCORRECT, there is no room to question facts or explore and discover. Students should be spending time learning, and learning requires questioning so called facts, and critical thinking. Traditional schooling fully supports fishing for only RIGHT answers.
-Get as Much Done as Possible in the Least amount of time: Have any parents or teachers ever questioned WHY we have a time limit for lessons? What about different learning styles? If your child doesn't understand the lesson on the ecosystem as well as his friend, that's too bad because it's time to move on! The "Tougher Standards" movement in our Country only enforces this type of atmosphere more by requiring many things to be "covered" ASAP in order for the students to "learn." There isn't time for students to gain an in depth understanding of certain subjects because of time constraints. Understanding requires being able to apply ideas, there can't be a time limit on actual learning. The message to the children is harmful because they become accustomed to these restraints, therefore, "why is it worth concentrating on if I can't even finish, let alone UNDERSTAND" becomes the attitude.
I have more....and I must credit my valuable sources for the information I shared here so far. Professor Fogarty, Alfie Kohn, "The Schools Our Children Deserve" chapter 3, and John Gatto, "The Seven Lesson School Teacher." I hope that I have made someone at least think about this, because it's so important. I haven't addressed the tests, but if anyone is interested I would like to share some facts backed up by professional research another day. Thanks Duckie! I will answer more later...I do have valid reasons for why I feel as I do, and I love to share because school is where our children spend their days, some things can certainly be at least considered when it comes to what's best for them.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 12:15AM
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I must apologize a bit, I sometimes read these early in the morning, and fear I am still a bit confused. Do you feel it is important to find out if a particular teacher is effective for a particular child? What about the teacher's effectiveness for a whole classroom of students? I don't really care what methods are used by the teacher, are they effective? I don't really care HOW you determine the results, is that determination a worthwhile goal?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 5:48AM
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I don't think you are a bad person, but I certainly hope you are never my child's teacher.

Because you see no value in something being right or wrong. Or in facts. And I see right and wrong answers and facts as the building blocks that a child needs in order to think critically.

2x2=4. Memorize it. It's a fact. If you tell me that 2x2=5 then you are wrong. I realize that there are people who do not want to ever have to tell an 8 year old that he is wrong, but there ARE certain things that are right or wrong. The sooner a child MEMORIZES his multiplication tables the sooner the child can learn to apply the concept of multiplication more critically. If he is struggling to compute then the application will be FAR more difficult.

Practice DOES make perfect. Why would you say that practicing skills is harmful? It shouldn't be ALL that the kids do, but kids need repetition to become comfortable and familiar with different skills.

There ARE right and wrong answers in the world. Sorry. I know you hate that, but it's true. And kids should learn the RIGHT answers to things. For instance if asked whether San Fransisco is on the East or West coast of the US the WEST coast is correct and the EAST coast is incorrect. There are some types of learning activities that require a different set of skills, but there are just some times when things are either correct or incorrect. And a child needs a mix of activities that combine fundamentals (like memorizing multiplication tables) with critical thinking skills. To go to far to either extreme does a terrible disservice to children.

Alfie Kohn must be involved in the horrendous Florida public schools. The schools here are polluted with just the kind of educational nonsense he spouts off. Nobody is wrong, everybody is right, it's not important to memorize things, blah blah blah.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 4:54PM
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I agree, Mommabear. I want my kids to have the hands-on skill to use a map or reference book. But I don't want them to have to look at a map everytime they need to know the capitol of a state. I want to understand the concept of multiplication, but then memorize the facts so they don't have to think through it every time. Some things just need to be memorized. Spelling is a good example, some words just have to be memorized, there is a right or wrong, it does matter, and you can't sound it out. All of that is core knowledge -the building blocks of learning.

I can't believe how much differently I look at the learning process now that it's my own children doing the learning compared to my ideals when I was a college student taking educational method and theory classes. The environment in the classes, having the liberty to discuss the philosophy of education, gave me a very idealistic mindset. Which is a good thing. If we didn't start out that idealistic, reality would burn us out even faster! My teacher's view of a perfect classroom is not exactly the same as my parent's view of the perfect classroom.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 11:03PM
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First of all, and forgive me but I've been set off a bit by Mommabear...it's attitudes JUST LIKE YOURS MOMMABEAR that keep progress-REAL progress for our KIDS from becoming a reality! I'm not "spouting" off a bunch of CRAP, this is important stuff, but I suppose asking those of you who have had blind faith in the traditional methods of education for so long to open your minds and just CONSIDER what I am trying to say would be evidence of the kinds of institutions you too were schooled in. The information I share is backed up by extensive research on REAL SCHOOL CHILDREN.
Mommabear, explain to me the reason we have children SIT in rows in desks. Tell me HOW this aides them in learning. Tell me the VALUE of memorization, of being able to spit out facts that have no real meaning behind them. Explain to me the real value of a standardized test, of emphasis on regurgitating the "right" answers over and over again. Tell me please how these FEW things help a child develop critical thinking skills, positive self-perception, and individuality. Passivity is enforced in the traditional school, why can't you open your mind and look at some of what I present here without bias for once? Go to the library and check out a book by JOHN DEWEY, ALFIE KOHN, HOWARD GARDNER, PIAGET, or WILLIAM GLASSER. Search these people on the web, look into what they are saying. You know, I'm not a professional, I'm a student and a mother. I have been working hard in school myself, and I have been introduced to these educational issues that have inspired me to do what I can as a teacher to consider THE CHILDREN. I wasn't thinking of relocating until now though Mommabear, maybe I should come to Florida and do my student teaching in your kids classrooms!:) They could seriously benefit from this stuff, it's unfortunate that you take so lightly something this important.
Duckie, I will answer the questions you asked me, but like I said of course this is only me, my opinion.
My son had a teacher last year that was awful, she didn't respect the kids, she belittled them and scolded them and hardly ever cracked a smile. A teacher can't be effective if she/he doesn't truly have their heart in the work. Teaching is WORK, but it can be done with dedication and a love and respect for learning and understanding, and of course for children and every aspect of their growth. Teachers are with our kids 5 days a week 9 months out of the year, in order for them to be "effective" in my opinion there needs to be a passion for the job that remains through the good and bad days, years, syudents, whatever!! I think that by observing a classroom and the interaction between child and teacher would show weather or not the relationship is an effective one. Teachers need to respect the children, that needs to be evident. Otherwise, define "effective" please...because I'm worn out now and it's late!:)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 11:56PM
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Here's some information for anyone who really wants to consider the importance of education and it's effects on children.

Here is a link that might be useful: John Gatto 7 Lesson Schoolteacher

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 12:15AM
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You didn't ask me, Deb, and I really should just go to bed, but...

Yeah, ok, I want critical thinking on the curriculum. But, well, I don't send my kids to school for positive self-perception or individuality lessons. That's what I look for in a summer camp. Of course, I don't want it destroyed, either. Forgive me if this is politically incorrect, but, I want our kids to beat the pants off the kids in other nations on, say, math tests. I want to know we have the brightest, best prepared kids in the world. Not just the ones with the best self esteem. I don't think they will get there if the objective of a lesson states: this lesson will teach children positive self-perception and individuality; and the evaluation is the smiles on their faces.

I'm not discrediting the importance of happy, confident students. But I don't want to see the importance of good old-fashioned knowledge discredited, either.

There also need to be commonly accepted objective standards to assess the progress of students. Without that, differences of opinion cannot be resolved. _That_ is the use of a standardized test.

The use of rows of desks is one approach to classroom management -cuz without that you might as well not start at all. Rows, squares, circles, who cares? Not the biggest frying pan on the stove.

My 4th grader was recently assigned, in art class, to memorize a list of vocabulary words relating to clay. The teacher showed them pictures and pieces of pottery and sculpture to demonstrate some of those words. Now he is actually working with the clay create some of those features from the list. He learned a little art history, some technique, new vocabulary (always a confidence booster). Little art appreciation in viewing and discussing the works she showed them. Then he got have some fun, express himself, and incorporate techniques he learned. The memorization, the study, the practice, the creativity... it all had it's place in giving him a well-rounded lesson.

There are some lessons where the most efficient way to learn is to memorize -spelling, math facts, state capitols, others. And efficiency does matter so you can get on to the higher level thinking skills. You aren't suggesting we let those facts go, are you? That accuracy doesn't matter in those skills? If you are, you are 'spouting crap,' to quote your own words.

Maybe I'm naive, but I think that art lesson is representative of what is, and should be, happening in most cases. It is what I see in my own kids' classrooms. And, as a side benefit, when kids learn that way they will likely do well on those standardized tests without having "tought to the test." I think it really can be a win-win situation. Accountability, measuable objectives and positive, fun, learning experiences can all go together.

Too much loyalty to those theorist can sound like "Back off, parents, and trust me, the educated expert. I have read a lot of stuff so I know better than you what is best for your children." Phooey on the theorists, I've read them all, too. It's good stuff to keep in mind, but it's not gospel. It's idealistic. You can't learn to parent from a book and you can't learn to teach from a book - no matter how prominent the author.

And finally, I don't think ANYONE around here takes any aspect of their child's education lightly. We do understand your point, we just don't always agree with it. You ever see Jay Leno's bit where he asks people on the street questions like "Who won the Revolutionary War" and they say something pathetically stupid like "Hawaii?" They always appear to be unique individuals with surprisingly high self-esteem, considering they don't much about history. THAT is a shame we cannot continue for another generation.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 1:47AM
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FlowergirlDeb, yes, I would like to know your opinion. I would like to know what you think and what your values are.

By "effective" I mean how well the student or class learns under this teacher's tutelage. Can they apply geometric principles, discuss the Lewis and Clark expedition intelligently, or write a proper thank you letter? Regardless of whether the teacher used Mr. Rodgers' style or a Marine drill instructor's style, did the child or children learn?

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 7:02AM
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Ok, I am NOT saying that children don't need to learn skills such as math, spelling, etc., I'm not saying that at all, what I am saying is HOW TRADITIONAL EDUCATION GOES ABOUT THIS CAN HARM KIDS. There are numerous ways to incorporate a caring, individual, more constructive lessons into ANY curriculum, BUT it requires dedication from the teacher, parents, school board, administrators, and the community as a whole.
OF COURSE children need to learn how to add, multiply, spell, etc., but HOW they learn can be a more enriching and overall MORE MEANINGFUL experience if we would let go of the aspects of Traditional Education that research has shown can harm some children. When I say "some" I don't mean a few here and there, I just cannot assume that every child is harmed or affected in a negative way.
Stephanie, the art lesson you explained sounds like a perfect example of the kind of instruction that I am refering to. That project held meaning for your son in it, correct? He learned by doing, by discovering and applying what he already knows to what was being introduced, right? THAT art lesson isn't an example of traditional education as I understand it, your son's art lesson was a valuable learning experience that it sounds like the students were able to find personal meaning in, and discover things about themselves that they may not have had an opportunity to do in a more rigid assignment.
Has anyone checked out the links I provided??? :)

Duckie, where I stand right now in my own education and as a parent and future teacher, (did Mommabear just cringe!??) :)is from a progressivist and constructivist viewpoint. I believe that children recieve opportunities through what can be called a progressivist classroom that traditional education ignores. YES, we go to school to learn, but why can't a school nuture the WHOLE child through education? I would like to provide an environment for my students where they feel free to express themselves on an academic and emotional level. When we are in school, do we stop feeling and being human? Shouldn't our personal feelings be part of how we learn, and if education could aide that in a positive way wouldn't that be BETTER for the children??
Duckie, it is my opinion that in order for a teacher to be effective to the WHOLE CHILD that instruction must be child centered and the teacher must connect any lessons to the human beings that she/he shares their time with every day. Yes, Lewis and Clark can be taught, but start the lesson with a question that inspires the kids to THINK, that brings true meaning to what's being taught, some kind of question that requires them to imagine themselves as Lewis or Clark or someone living during that time. See what I am saying? The connection made on a personal level makes the material much more meaningful to the students, and instead of just memorizing a bunch of facts about Lewis and Clark, they will actually LEARN because of that connection. A lesson on proper letter form can go the same way, ask the children about gratitude, to recall a time they themselves felt good about doing something for someone, and how it felt to them to be recognized with a "Thank You." Ask them what appreciation is, what they are grateful for, etc., you get what I am saying. As for weather or not the children learn, well that of course I believe is more effective through these methods I have explained. Certainly a teacher can be a drill sargent, but WILL THE CHILD ENJOY LEARNING, will they remain motivated and excited about learning if they are in that situation? That would be a severe case of a teacher centered classroom, where the children aren't treated with respect or as people able to make discisions and have some control over their education.
Did I answer your questions?:) Any teacher can "make" a child learn, but what is the price???

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 3:09PM
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You would like the child to express himself on an academic and emotional level. You would like the child to learn to think. You would like the child to not only learn facts, but also connect those facts to herself on a personal level. Do you want to see if the child has learned those things, and if so how do you go about it?

    Bookmark   November 25, 2002 at 5:33AM
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In answer to your first post to me:

My mind is open. I think it is yours that is not. You read what someone else says and then take it as the gospel. I read what someone else says and then QUESTION the value of it. I see no value in having an illiterate child because the teachers want to build up his self esteem at the expense of him actually learning anything.

I don't need Alfie Kohn to tell me how to think. I can do so quite nicely, thank you. I challenge you to DEVELOP YOUR 0WN ideas instead of blindly following someone else.

Facts are the building blocks of knowledge. And facts do not change. They are important because in order to apply the concepts you need to know the facts as they exist. And they are either right or wrong. And the sooner the kids learn the right facts the sooner they can actually apply them to something useful in the world.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2002 at 10:44AM
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Duckie, I think that evaluation can be done through observation and portfolios of the children's work. The portfolio shows progress. There is another form of assessment that I recently read about that involves student input, where they are directly involved in assessing their own learning in partnership with the teacher, which I also think is a good idea. I'm not saying forget all methods of "testing" but I don't think that drilling children over material over and over again just to see if they remember honestly prooves they have learned anything. If there is some level of personal meaning attached to the assignments, weather it be a hands on experience or essays or reports of somekind, I think that if there is personal meaning involved the children will value it all the more.
Mommabear, thanks again.
I never said the basic facts should be tossed out the window of the classrooms! I merely said that there are much better methods of teaching that can certainly be applied by teachers that provide a more student-centered enviornment. Alfie Kohn happens to be one of my main sources, yes, and I do believe that what he supports and writes about concerning traditional education and it's drawbacks for children are real. I also believe that you mistake my posts as "the final word," I suppose that I have a way with words when I am rather passionate about something, but I have repeatedly suggested and asked other posters to take a look for themselves and at least consider what I have learned through my own education regarding our public school system. I never claimed to be an expert, and I admit that I can come across as intense, but that is only because I care. Have you looked at the sites I porvided links to, with very basic information on some of the people I have mentioned? Or are you not willing to see that side as you accusse me of not seeing or understanding as well?
And, I do have my own opinions, their foundations are built on what knowledge I have aquired through my education and I am actually doing a paper right now where I have to "Design a School," and this requires me to come up with my personal philosophies and methods. BUT, my own BASIC knowledge does certainly come from experts in the field.Which isn't a "bad" thing and doesn't mean that I have no thinking skills on my own.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2002 at 3:54PM
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For whom would the evaluation be useful? It seems to me it would be useful to the student and his/her parents. Would it be useful for the teacher or the principal/superintendent? If it would be useful to others, what use would they be able to make of it?

    Bookmark   November 26, 2002 at 6:40AM
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Yes, with a portfolio assessment the material contained shows the progress. A portfolio would be sort-of like a resume (I KNOW that has got to be spelled wrong!:)stating what the child has worked on, what thier goals were, where improvement is needed, and the actual work is part of the portfolio. Maybe not a resume, but just a personal portfolio, and all school faculty would be able to see and understand the students progress. In my opinion it's actually better than just telling parents about what their child has been doing or not doing or has trouble with, because the evidence is right there for all to see. And with the student direct involvement as far as assessment and evaluation that too is something that the faculty would be able to see, the teacher has to have a one on one with the student to do the assessment, maybe I didn't mention that part!:) So of course the teacher would be required to fill out some kind of "report" for their superiors. The way I understand these examples of alternative assessments are that they are used normally by an entire school, and not just one teacher. Of course a teacher could include them in her or his evaluation methods, but how I understand it is that the curriculum needs to be much different as well from tradtional schooling, so the alternative assessments do not fit into the Old school model.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2002 at 12:37AM
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Are the goals themselves determined by the teacher, curriculum, or student? Why would that assesment style be used by the whole school rather than by individual teachers?

"Maybe not a resume, but just a personal portfolio, and all school faculty would be able to see and understand the students progress. In my opinion it's actually better than just telling parents about what their child has been doing or not doing or has trouble with, because the evidence is right there for all to see." I had always assumed that in tradional grading and assessing systems, current teachers knew what sorts of grades the child had in the past. Is this not the case?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2002 at 5:24AM
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No, when using these assessment methods from my own knowledge, it is usually part of the curriculum. BUT, of course individual teachers may use them, though unfortunately they may not be offically accepted unless they are part of the curriculum.
With the self-assessment, both the student and teacher work together as a team to determine goals, and the teacher guides the student toward reaching them.
Also, it is my understanding that most teachers don't necessarily know their students past grades or anything about their individual performance. Of course there may be schools that support that kind of communication with the students best interests in mind, but commonly it is not the case. It's easier to "pass on" the portfolio to the next teacher so they can see the childs progress themselves.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2002 at 12:09AM
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It's Long--Get a cup of coffee!!
OK Deb. I have been following this thread since the beginning and thinking about a lot of the things you have to say. I have a lot to say in response-but first I want to remind you of my background--I am the one who taught, among other community college courses, GED classes for the past 10 years. I have seen first hand, on the order of 30-40 students per quarter, what happens to the students who didn't succeed in the public school system. That said, I will add that most of the opinion here comes from 1)the fact that I have spent a tremendous amount of time volunteering in my children's (7 and 10) elementary school 2) I know a LOT of teachers--both personally and professionally, 3) I have observed many elementary school classrooms and 4) I have friends and relatives with young children in five states (WA, CA KA MO, OK)and we talk and compare notes on a regular basis. So my response to some of your opinions:
**Traditional education is NOT contemporary education: The public schools in NO WAY resemble elementary schools from 30 years ago and before. 1) I have not seen nor heard of any elementary classrooms with children lined up in rows and working exclusively independently since before I was in college. I realize there must be some, but that certainly is not the norm and your using that scenario as a piece of evidence about why public schools are so bad makes you sound rather uninformed. Learning-to-learn activities, group projects, independent, student driven investigations take up a SIGNIFICANT, if not a majority, of an elementary student's classroom time now. 2) All of the intermediate elementary (4th 5th and 6th grade) children I know attend their parent, teacher student conferences to discuss their progress and actively participate in setting their own goals. My son, for example has to keep a copy of the goal sheet that he filled out in the front of his binder for the entire school year. These goals must include something physical, something artistic and as many academic-oriented goals as he wants. Most of the students who attend their own conferences show up with some type of portfolio. This is NOT a new idea. The teachers may not give a name to the stack of work they are discussing with parents and students but they all have some examples ready to discuss. I finished elementary school in 1979 but everyone of my teachers arrived at the conferences with sample work to go over even in those dark ages.
**I think everyone here will agree that standardized tests (and forgive the vulgarity) suck. However, it's like Winston Churchill (I think) said, something to the effect, that Democracy is a terrible form of government, its disorganized, unfair, rife with fraud and waste, etc. But does anyone have a better suggestion? The same is true of norm-standardized (investigate Washington states WASL for a great example of assessment testing that is not norm standardized and is being used as a model in other states now) tests. They do, like it or not, have a place in our society. Unfortunately, very few people in the public know how they work or how to interpret the results. This fact does not justify withholding that information from the public though. Our schools are PUBLIC--funded entirely by taxpayers who have EVERY RIGHT to know, by some measure, whether or not schools are doing their jobs. Like it or not, those schools, in under-funded, impoverished areas, are generally NOT educating their students as well as schools in the rich suburbs. Is that the schools or teacher's fault? Not entirely, no. Should we withhold funds from these schools? ABSOLUTELY not. But we MUST have an OBJECTIVE way to identify these schools and track their progress at improving the education of their students. It is not realistic to think that a school district can present 12,000 private portfolios with subjective teacher comments to the public for such evidence.
**You said "valuable time is wasted when a teacher requires a student to memorize a spelling list or their multiplication tables." I challenge you to think of it from a different perspective: "Valuable time IS wasted if a student does not have his multiplication table or grade-level spelling memorized." I could give you easily a hundred examples to back up this idea but I'll give you just one: my 5th grade son, who is in a classroom where the teacher lets her students move as fast or as slow as they are comfortable going in math, just finished the 7th grade math book in a very short amount of time. There is NO WAY he could have done that if he had to stop and add up what 7 x 6 was every time he want to figure out how much interest he was going to make on his investment. NOT knowing multiplication tables would slow ANYONE down in their ability to learn and investigate more complex mathematical problems.
***One of the most important lessons I have learned (as an ex extemely opinionated environmentalist tree-hugger) in my life is that if you truly want to be an effective instrument of change, you will NEVER be able to do it with an extreme goal or opinion. Unfortunately, the world rarely, if ever, goes from point A to point C without mucking through point B along the way. I heard a lot of the same hooey as you from my wonderful professors when I was in college too. Part of their job is to turn out passionate teachers. But remember, for many of them, it has been awhile since they were in an elementary school for any significant amount of time. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle. For instance, someone has led you to believe that Howard Gardner?s ideas, while brilliant, are radical. I can think of no teacher that I know who is not very aware of his ideas and research. I hear teachers ALL THE TIME talking about designing classrooms and lessons that will address 'multiple intelligences' and different learning styles. While the public schools are in need of MUCH improvement, they do not , in any way as far as I can tell, resemble the schools that you are describing, which is one reason the people on this board are having a hard time embracing your ideas.
Finally, I want to point out to you that your assertion that the people on this board "have blind faith in the traditional" methods of education or in our school system, is insulting. I am sure that you probably didn't mean it to sound that way, but it seems obvious to me that the very fact that they are here discussing issues and problems that they are dealing with in their children's schools is an indication that they are anything but ?blindly faithful?. On a more positive note, I will end by saying that your passion is admirable and I am sure that in the end you will be a wonderful teacher. Have a great day.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2002 at 5:14PM
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sadiesmom, um, thanks. :) I actually want to post a response but I have been busy with my final papers and studying this week. I'll be back though to reply! Thanks!:)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 11:56PM
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Can't wait to read your response, Deb. After rereading my posting it occurs to me that I need to clarify something: I think there are PLENTY of problems with public schools. But my experience, reading and education have led me quite a different list of issues than you are are describing. I'll save that list and rant for a more appropriate thread, though.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2002 at 1:36AM
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Sadiesmom, can't wait to read that list!:) I will reply, now that school is over for me for the semester I have a ton of Christmas errands to get done while my kids are still in school! I want to thoughtfully reply and need the time to do so, check back please, I'll post within the next few days. Take care! :)

    Bookmark   December 16, 2002 at 11:01AM
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Kuddos, Sadiesmom. Well said! Very well said!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2002 at 10:54PM
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