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Standardized Testing....

Posted by FlowergirlDeb2 (debbie337@msn.com) on
Mon, Apr 8, 02 at 23:51

I will probably stir up some intense opinions and maybe even some ugly words, but I was wondering how parents feel about Standardized testing? Are they truly teaching our kids? Does your school teach to the test and not to the world we live in??? Anything else added would be great! Thanks!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Standardized Testing....

I promise that I won't get too worked up here!!!! :)


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Hmmm...I think first you might want to delve into what is the purpose of scholastic education. If everyone can agree upon what we want for an end product, we might be able to figure out whether or not that goal is being met. Then we can think about whether standardized testing helps or hinders meeting that goal. AND if (as I suspect) it helps some but hinders others, what can be done in that case.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Standardized testing is fine. The procedures involved in just trying to teach the test is wrong. I believe the means to teach the skills should involve many procedures.
Parents must take a stronger role in helping their children learn. I BELIEVE IN EARLY LEARNING. THE YEARS SPENT AT HOME BEFORE A CHILD EVERY ENTERS THE SCHOOL IS VITAL IN THE SUCESS OF THE CHILD IN SCHOOL. PARENTS NEED THE RESOURCES AND BE ABLE TO UTILIZE THEM IN GETTING THEIR CHILD OFF TO A GOOD START WHEN THE CHILDREN START SCHOOL.
SOMEONE POSTED HOW SMART IS YOUR CHILD'S TEACHER? HOW SMART IS THE CHILD'S PARENT? IF THEY ARE REAL SMART THEY WILL BE LOOKING OUT FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN BY BEING INVOLVED IN THEIR EDUCATION BY KNOWING WHAT IS GOING ON IN THEIR DAILY ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
GOING OVER THEIR HOME WORK, CHECKING THEIR TEST PAPERS,ETC. BE CONCERNED AND BE INVOLVED. GO TO PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES. TEAMWORK TEAMWORK TEAMWORK


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Standards of what the kids should know at each level are developed. Then the kids are tested to see if they are achieving at the appropriate level. I fail to see how anyone can have a problem with that.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Well around most states the schools that are really the best schoool DO have the children that makes the highest on these achievement tests. The schools that make the lowest on the test usually have the worst school and the majority of their teacher are not very good, it seems. And many of their students can be drop outs or don't ever attend college. Usually there is not alot of Parents involvement either. The parents aren't involved in how the child does at school and sometimes even if the child attends school. The teachers many times don't follow any type of guide lines either.

I am not saying these tests can determine everything about a child but as a whole(all the tests averaged at the school) many tims they tell a lot about the schools.

Schools need to have some type of tests to find out to show accountability of just how the school it progressing as a whole, if the teacher are teaching what they should for future needs of the kids and if the children are comphrehendsing what the teacher is teaching or if the teacher is actually teaching what she is suppose to at all that the child will need in furture grades in the school and also college.

If the schools around here have a poor average on the test scores the state come in and takes over the school and oversees just what the problems are at the school, and usually there are many.

So, even though the test might not tell everything about your child, it does as a whole usually reflect the school that he/she attends.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I have no objections to the tests themselves. We took them in public elementary school growing up in Ohio. I think it was the Iowa Achievment Test that I took every couple years. And of course we all took a standardized test, or two, for collenge entrance. I even took a set of standardized tests, the NTE (National Teachers Exam) in order to get my teaching certificate in Ohio. I don't even have an objection to states requiring high school students to pass such a test for graduation. It gives employers and universities, not to mention students and parents, a real standard for what having a HS diploma means. It doesn't just mean showing up every day, it means you have proven certain skills. Schools in Ohio knew from my teaching certificate that I had not only shown up to certain college classes for four years, but that I had proven my knowledge and training on a standard exam.

I don't like how some states and districts use the results of the tests to award funds to high performing schools. Instead, the should use the group results of those tests to indentify and solve problems. When test scores show that a particular school struggles on reading comprehension, it's time to find out why. Is there an adult literacy problem amond parents? Maybe teacher in-service programs need to train teachers better. A high performing school can be studied to see what programs are in place that low performing schools can immitate.

I don't like that teachers get bonuses and raises based on test scores. Test scores alone are not an accurate representation of a teacher's, a student's or a school's achievements. The scores should be used to improve education, not just to judge and reward.

I am most familiar with Florida practices, since that is where my son has spent the most time in public schools. I am trying to learn about Tennessee now. But in FL, an elementary can receive an award of as much as $100,000 in additional funds when their FCAT test scores increase from one year to the next. Teacher get personal bonuses on top of that. The school can use those funds as the principal sees fit. They can add a playground, purchase materials, buy computers, train teachers, higher a couple extra teachers or few extra classroom aids, or present special programs or speakers. I've even heard of a school giving the money to another school that was in greater need. While I agree with recognizing successful schools, it seemed to me that most of the high performing schools got a lot of support from the community and parents, as well. The low performing schools, the ones who can't add computers or tutors because of lack of funds, could really use those funds. It says to the schools "You need to bring up test scores to get the funds you need to bring up test scores." Using test scores that way does not solve education problems in low achieving schools. It can make those high performing schools even better, but at the expense of at risk students in low performing schools.

I don't think schools should be treated like corporations. Although some business theories may apply to managing a district, budgeting, etc., I don't think theories of competition apply to the education of children. The desired end product is not a mass produced television set or car tires that will sell well. Each school is unique because each child is unique. A low achieving school usually reflects issues with the community the school serves. Test scores do not address those issues. The goal is, as I see it, it to improve the quality of education and therefor the quality of life of our society. The goal is to educate all children with equally high standards. The solution will not be the same in an highyly educated, affluent community as it is would be in a community of poor immigrant families. The reasons students in those school don't perform well can't be blamed just on the performance of teachers and administration. It is the result of socio-economic issues that must be addressed.

So I think standardized tests help achieve that goal if we use the results to identify and solve problems and to make a high quality of education consistent. If we use it to reward and punish, it doesn't help reach the goal.

How was that for long winded?


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RE: Standardized Testing....

It's the paradox of giving schools that don't need improvement money, and the schools that need improvement getting no money.

And any time results are tied to monetary awards and not to some other reward, then any means to an end is justified. Meaning that teachers will tend to only teach to the test and nothing more. Maybe not of their own volition, but because of policies, etc. being set in their schools and districts.

Some above responses could be construed as, "What's wrong with teaching to the test?" Good question. It could end up meaning that some subject matter is skipped because - why teach it if it's not on the test? (like the other thread about geometric proofs).

I was taught some things in school that I'm sure weren't on the Iowa test. What if, in those days, my educators chose to skip any subject matter not on that test?

Standards are good, and are needed. But the current implementation of standardized tests may be leading to unexpected results.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Stephanie,
You have pointed out some good thoughts. I like your comments.
I would like to see more of our federal money going in to education and these poor school districts should be the areas where more money should go. Rewarding these schools that pull up their scores seems to me the right thing to do.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I agree the areas that have poor schools need the money. But what has been found in my state is that some of the poorer or worst schools when given money will not use it to benefit the kids.
There has been alot of corruption as to the money going to individual pockets, fancy meals for a teacher banquet, materials that are not needed. And when new computers are bought sometimes they sit idle because the teacher her/himself do not know or care to know how to operate them.
This was actually found to be true. Computer just sitting in rooms with no one around knowing how to operate them.

You've also seen this I imagine, I know I have.. A nice pretty school is put in a area that is high crime and low income and it can become destroyed in just a few years.

So, I think when these schools are given money, well any school-there should be more accountable. You can't give the money to the schools and say "Spend it where you need it" because it has been found many times they just won't .
And if they don't have adequate teachers at the school you just can't give the teacher money and tell them to use it wherever it is needed. Because instead of using it for resource material they may well use it for needless or useless items. So, all of that can be a problem.

I am not saying the poorer schools should not get the money. I am saying that sometimes there is corruption in these schools and when they are given money, the money is not spent properly. I think each school should tell just what they bought with the funds and be able to show just what they bought too.

Now the destroying of property of the school should be helped by the police and community watch programs that care about the community, it's citizens and the school.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Hi Lynn,
How should these schools be managed? Grant money has to be accounted as to how it is spent. There must be a meeting in the middle of the local community and the government officials. Testing can be a measure as to where the needs are and where emphasis needs to be placed.
I am for more resources for the early childhood learning. You are able to do more for a longer time range if you start at the earliest point available. These are the most formable times. A child needs to get off to the best start in school possible. I am in favor of using tax money to help parents help their children in getting off to a good start in school.
We have home health programs for the elderly, why couldn't we have a home educational program for parents and preschoolers? Some states may have just such programs.
How do you motivate parents to read to their children? How do you motivate parents to be involved in teaching their children? How do you motivate people to be decent citizens? How do you motivate parents to be concern for the best interests of their children? There must be other ways other than monetary rewards.
Where are the leaders in the community? Where are the parents who are concerned? What are the churches doing? Why don't parents carry their children to church? Why do some parents just send the children to church?
Why do we not have concern for each other as we should? Why are we so wrap up in our jobs, our pleasures, our fun and games and leaving our children to get by the best way they know how? Why do we wonder why kids don't know how to do basic math problems? Why do we wonder why kids don't know how to read when they get to high school?
Could it be no one cares enough!!!!!! Who are the first and the most important teachers a child will have? One day these kids will be parents and the cycle starts again.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Forgive me, it's late but I am compelled to "say" something before I turn in...and come back in the morning to "say" more!:)
It is my opinion that Standardized Testing does NOT promote intrinsic motivation, does not consider each child's individuality, is culturally biased, and ultimately does NOT measure ant LEARNING that children do, they measure what the children can MEMORIZE. Too many schools are forced to depend on these test results for such important things as funding or staying open!!
"Teaching to the Test" forces teachers to alter any meaningful lessons that they could be teaching that encourage expressive thought, critical thinking skills, and finding out HOW their students learn. I have more...but I am tired!:)
If anyone is interested (Arkansasgardenguy) check out www.alfiekohn.org for expert research results on the harm and danger of Standardized Testing.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

A few points:

NOTHING TEACHES INTRINSIC MOTIVATION. The definition of intrinsic is "Of or relating to the essential nature of a thing; inherent" Standardized test have nothing to do with intrinsic motivation. They don't promote it, they don't destroy it. It's one of those things that is inborn.

The purpose of school is to learn, not to promote individuality. School should RESPECT individuality. But the purpose of school is to learn.

The tests may be culturally biased, but generally reflect things children need to learn to be successfull. Therefore The test being culturally biased is a reason to EXPAND THE CURRICULUM not a reason to discontinue testing. If it is found that children at a low income school are not exposed to a concept as much as children in an area that is better off, the answer is to expose the children to the new concept, not to write off the test as culturally biased (same goes for foreign born kids).

Standardized test promote the idea of a curriculum that is defined in advance and then tested. Please explain to me why that is not considered learning. Because you don't like it?

Here is a real life example. Last year my son took the SAT. He had to read the passage and answer the questions on the test. He spent a better part of first grade learning how to read paragraphs and to glean the "main idea" and to extract details from passages. I am sorry you feel that is not learning, but I DO. Learning how to read a passage and understand what is says is an essential life skill and if a child learns ONLY THAT in first grade I would consider first grade to be a success.

I agree with others that some of the ways that standardized testing is used are unacceptable. But that does not mean that the testing is inherently bad. I live in FL and I agree with Stephanie that it is ridiculous to give more money to the schools that are already doing well and to take money from a school that clearly needs help. But all that said is not an indictment of standardized testing, but rather a sad commentary on how states use the information gleaned from the testing.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

FYI, at this site you can download samples of the FCAT test for reading or math in every grade level. They are big downloads, just to warn you, in case you have a slow modem, go eat lunch while you wait. But is intersting to see what is really being tested. You might be surprised.

Unfortunately, I'm still searching for samples of the TCAP for TN.

Here is a link that might be useful: FCAT sample tests


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RE: Standardized Testing....

In Washington State, a group is collecting signatures to put an initiative to election that would require that candidates for political office take the WASL and have their scores published. The WASL is our test - probably our version of the FCAT. Maybe kind of a silly idea, but funny enough that I would vote for it.

My problem with standardized tests is that there are lots of successful, intelligent people who don't take tests well. I am a great test taker - I scored in the top 1% on the SATs - but there are so many things I don't do well at all. My fiancee is far better than I am at a lot of things that make him employable and valuable to society, but he doesn't take tests well. So why should colleges look at me like I am so much more important than he is?

I went to a college that was much easier to get into than some of the colleges I could have gone to, but one that educates people to interact effectively with each other, and to speak passionately for the things they want, and to learn across disciplines and learn from life experiences, and to educate others. Now I am in graduate school, and there is a marked difference between my education and that of people who went to traditionally competitive undergraduate programs - most of whom found that, while they were able to keep up with the extensive reading and take the tests, they had no real ability to use the things they learned effectively in the world outside of school. I am not trying to argue for a specific kind of college education, I am just arguing that many of the things that make people effective contributors to society don't show up on standardized tests. It isn't fair to judge everyone by the same standard in high school, because there is no time in later life where we will require, or even want, everyone to have the exact same skills. The reason Howard Gardner's MI theories went from radical to mainstream so incredibly quickly is that they are totally undeniable.

I don't think standardized testing isn't useful; I think that the problem is "high-stakes testing" of the type that Stephanie discussed (and the President supports) - when states think they can use money (and simplistic, junk economic theory) to bully schools into better serving students, instead of doing the real work of looking carefully at where the problems come from and thinking of innovative ways to solve them. Over-emphasis on the SAT for college admissions is also a huge problem - and nearly everyone in college administator positions already knows that. We just have to count on people like Richard Atkinson to throw that in their faces until they become so uncomfortable that they are forced to come up with a new system.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Mommabear, teachers certainly CAN help a student with intrinsic motivation...check any Educational Psych. book for that info. please. Standardized tests are a "means to an end." Intrinsic motivation is "Doing something for it's own sake," for personal interest, knowledge, etc...I NEVER said that children "can't" learn from these tests, but I will say that whatever it is they might learn comes with a price. Did anyone check Alfie Kohn????

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


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Debbie,
Yes learning information on the Achievement tests are needed.

Memorization has a WHOLE LOT to do with learning. I mean don't children memorize their multiplication tables? addition and subtraction facts? History facts? English rules? Science facts? Words when reading? also words when learning to speak had to be memorized? The list is endless. I don't know how anyone could think that Memorization is a wasate of time????

I do agree also that the standardized test do promote a cirriculum that some teacher without it, just don't seem to be able to come up with. The the basics have to be covered first.

And it is true that the schools that do well on the standardized test many time are the better schools.
It has been proven.
These schools have the largest percentage of students that go on to college, do better on their college entrance exams- and achieve better in college.
And many states have an exam that a child must pass just to graduate from High school.

At some schools there have been some students that made a "C" average and above,but still did not pass their High school exam. No Diploma was given to them. Only a paper saying the Students attended the High school. I know this sounds strange but it is true, as I have seen news stories about this.

Yes, it is important that a student be able to express themselves in thought as well. They can and many times express themselves through stories they write, poetry, art and other means. There are many schools that have a gifted programs. If you think your child's I.Q. is such that he or she could benefit from such a program, please inquire. Parents can with some of this too, by exposing their child to other interests.

Memorization has a whole lot to do with learning. Students would be lost without doing their share of it.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Yes, I understand that memorization is involved in some aspects of learning...but, I personally believe that by "Teaching to the Test" that memorization skills are ENFORCED, therefore the children aren't being given as many opportunities to FIND their own motivation from other lessons that could be taught.
Children's motivation to learn is the very core of achieving success in school. I believe that Standardized Testing gets in the way of children's personal and meaningful learning and discovery.
These tests are prepared by BUSINESSES, it's about profit, politics, and they are biased.
What about the children who suffer from Test Anxiety?? Is it fair to a third grade student to be told that they MUST do well on this test "or else??" Children take these "threats" to heart, it's not fair to put so much pressure to excel on children, in regards to the tests and everything else as well.
"The difference between learning and achievement is hard enough to grasp; the difference between doing well and doing better than others is especially confusing in a society so obsessed with being Number One that the ideas of excellence and winning have been thoroughly conflated.(Kohn.)
"Competiveness"has become to mean the same thing as "Quality" in education.
Is success and failure determined by abliity on these tests or effort? And they are NOT the same!
How can educators insist that children be "made" to learn the material on these tests? And what of the ones who can't or don't or are tired of the threats because they don't test well so they just give up?? Do we give up on them because of this?
The problems are too many, and the number one problem is that the people who are in control of these tests and "Tougher Standards" are running school's like businesses and not like a nuturing, safe learning environment for our children.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I agree with mommabear: a curriculum is set out, teachers strictly follow the curriculum making sure all topics are covered, the students do their part by learning the material, the parents and teachers alike help motivate the children to learn, the students are tested. What's wrong with that? I don't agree with teaching to the test, but I do agree with standardized testing. How else will we know if our children are performing at the level they should be?

"Test anxiety" is something they have to learn to deal with. They will be tested for the rest of their educational lives. We don't want "test anxiety" to suddenly appear when they are writing their SATs or college finals. Let's teach them how to overcome "test anxiety" when they are young.

Yes, we have to motivate children to learn. But, we also have to make sure they LEARN. That's what education is all about. And that's part of the reason for testing - to point out a student's weaknesses so teachers and parents (hopefully) motivate them to concentrate more on these areas to strengthen them.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Onehappymeal,
You are telling it like it is. You are smart. It seems like you have had a lot of experience.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

The problem with norm-standardized testing is that a lot of people do not understand how they work or how to interpret the results. Pay attention to public comments next time the results of the tests in your district are published. For instance, you commonly hear that "1/3 of the students scored below the 34th percentile." Well yes, by design, it is mathematically impossible for anything else to happen. It doesn't matter if you are giving a group of 2nd graders a college calculus test or a group of college students a 2nd grade reading test, 1/3 of them will score below the 34th percentile. Then when this happens, there is a public outcry and parents put more pressure on teachers and school districts to teach more.

Another thing that happens is that all of these tests are designed with a few questions above grade level thrown in so that teachers can more easily identify what students are working above grade level. Then, when parents and the public study the itemized breakdown of test results, you hear comments like "80% of the 4th graders missed the geometry qustions on that test" --so we need better texts, better teaching, more money, a longer school year, etc. Well yes, 80% of the students missed those questions because they were 7th GRADE LEVEL QUESTIONS!! It makes me crazy!

I happen to have two kids who do very well on these tests, but I truly believe that they are bad for school districts and communities. I have considered not letting my kids take the tests and have been asked by the teachers in our school district (a district that consistently scores in the top 10% of those in the country) to start a revolt against these tests. I am not going to do that, but it is interesting that all of the teachers I know HATE these tests.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Teachers can help with motivation, but that is not intrinsic motivation. I am quite capable of thinking on my own. I do not need a textbook to tell me what the meaning of intrinsic is.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

You raise a good point sadiesmom, and I am guilty of not knowing exactly what these standardized tests actually test. Only one of my kids is in school so far, and he's only in KG. I just assumed standardized tests tested what the children are expected to know according to the approved curriculum for their level. This I agree with. I don't agree with a standardized test that includes topics a child will not necessarily have been taught at his/her level. If we want to know if certain children are performing above average, this is not the way to do it. I just assumed that teachers can recognize above-average students by their excellent school work. I guess I was wrong.

Also, I too have noticed that teachers seem to be the most vocal opponents of these standardized tests. I have a theory about this, but I don't want to get off topic.


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I was aware of the testing companies putting questions on tests that kids were "supposed" to miss, thanks sadiesmom for your post....suddenly I don't feel so alone in this mass of words!!:)
Mommabear, I wasn't implying that you personally can't "think on your own," but I am a college student, and adult, and a mother, and I suppose that my passion for psychology and education is partly out of concern for the world my children are venturing into, and my love of school and learning. So, I do use textbooks, and I use library books, and I research on interesting subjects and I do my best to apply and understand what I learn......(wanna test me??) :)
Intrinsic motivation can certianly be something that a teacher assists with, more as a GUIDE than an instructor.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Flowergirl...I am an educator (college level) also and have a minor in educational psychology. Mommabear is right...intrinsic motivation is,by its very definition, something innate in a person--like blue eyes and brown hair. Teachers cannot create or teach this quality in a student anymore than they can change a student from a kinestetic learner to an auditory learner. HOWEVER, it is certainly a desirable quality that teachers should recognize, nuture and encourage.
Onehappymeal...the problem is not so much that testing companies put the higher level questions on the test, it is that the public, parents included aren't aware of how the tests are written and how to interpret the results. The testing companies and the school districts for that matter don't do a very good job of saying "questions 40-50 are above 4th grade level, so don't worry if your student didn't get any of those correct." This is why publishing these results is bad for school districts and communities.

Like Anita, I also am from Washington state. I am very impressed with the style, scope and goal of our WASL tests. They are not norm-standardized tests but they do assess the achievement of the students and school districts in a comprehensive way.MANY of the most vocal opponents of standardized testing are supportive of this test. Unfortunately, assessment tests are a necessary evil in our world and they can give us valuable information. What we desperately need to get rid of is the NORM STANDARDIZED tests specifically. Because the MUCH of the WASL and similar tests have to be graded by at least 2 people and sometimes 3 people, they are expensive to evaluate and report on so unfortunately, I think it will be along time until we see a majority of other states adopting similar tests. Forgive the horrible punctuation and the disjointed thoughts...it's late and I'm not going to bother proofreading.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

A poster above said "I don't agree with a standardized test that includes topics a child will not necessarily have been taught at his/her level. If we want to know if certain children are performing above average, this is not the way to do it. I just assumed that teachers can recognize above-average students by their excellent school work. I guess I was wrong."

Many people think that gifted kids make great grades and do excellent work. But actually some gifted kids make worse grades BECAUSE they are bored in school. When presented with work appropriate to their level, they are interested, pay attention, and make good grades. These kids need to be identified and helped, so they don't go through their school years bored and unchallenged.

There are some children who do know the answers to seventh grade work when they're in fourth grade, and I think it does help to identify those children by including questions on the test that weren't covered by the curriculum. For example, if the teacher is teaching a fourth grade curriculum, how does she know that one of her students understands algebra? She is never presenting, testing, or discussing algebra, so how would she know?

I don't know how I feel about standardized testing, but there is a good reason why some of the tests include information well above grade level.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I believe that teaching to a test is perfectly acceptable, IF (and it's a BIG if), IF the test itself is valid.

When I was in college, I was full of ideas about how I was going to teach, and about all the wonderful methods I was going to use.

Trust me, when you get a job in a public school, and you have a principal who walks through your room two or three times a day, every day, you will do whatever you are told to do. Ideaology flies out the window when you have a supervisor who evaluates you based solely on whether or not you have followed the curriculum.

My principal always said that when you sign your paycheck every week, you are agreeing to teach the curriculum that you are given.


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I see why a 'gifted' child may be bored in his/her class - he/she already knows what is being taught. But, that means that they should excel when tested on this material. So, I fail to see how a gifted child can get poor grades.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I know that many people fail to see how some (not all, but some) gifted children don't excel at their work in a regular classroom setting.

Here is the best example I can give - suppose you are a really terrific cook, you can make gourmet meals. Instead of taking classes on gourmet cooking, you are in a class that teaches people the basics - how to turn on a stove, how to boil water, how to scramble an egg. How will the teacher know what a great cook you are? Maybe you'd like to explore a little bit, so you ask the teacher about alternative methods of cooking eggs - poaching, maybe scrambling eggs with a little cream cheese, onion and ham. The teacher says she can't talk about that, it would confuse the class, she has to teach only the basic method of scrambling eggs.

Perhaps the other people in the class are excited about scrambling eggs, they think it's interesting because they don't know how. They pay attention to their eggs and make sure they cook them just the way the teacher described. But you've been scrambling eggs since you were 7 years old, maybe you start daydreaming and let your eggs scorch. You don't have the best scrambled eggs in the class now, but if you were turned loose to cook a meal, you would clearly have best eggs in the classroom.

This is what you face not just for one class, but day in and day out, month after month, year after year. Would you like school? Would you be motivated to pay attention and do your best work?

Hopefully, the teacher would recognize that you are not in the correct place, and send you to gourmet cooking school. But it's not that easy for kids - physically, socially, emotionally they belong in the basic 'scrambled egg' class, but in some areas they need to go 'gourmet'. The questions on standardized tests that are above grade level, something the children aren't 'supposed' to know, help identify kids who need more than the regular classroom can give them.

I have a very bright daughter who excels no matter what. She will always do her best, whether she's bored or not.

I have a very bright son who will excel when the material is new to him (keep in mind that it can take months before any of the material presented is new to him). He will pay attention, his work is correct, neat, legible. He easily learns the material the first time it's presented. But the fourth, fifth, sixth times the material is presented, he doesn't pay attention to directions, gets sloppy and careless, rushes through his work because he just wants to be done. He almost always makes an A in the classroom, but he doesn't excel unless much of the material is new. So....the harder the class, the better he does. The easier the class, the worse he does.


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Daisy- you just gave the BEST analogy I've ever seen to explain the problem of gifted children being bored!

(May I borrow it next time someone asks me to explain the dilemma??)


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I disagree Daisy. To use your analogy, it's been my experience that the 'gifted' child makes his perfect scrambled eggs to hand in for marking - in less than 1/2 the allotted time because he's just so 'gifted'. Then he grabs another pair of eggs to make eggs benedict (to really show his stuff) while the rest of the class is still making their scrambled eggs. Hence, an exceptional student.

Letting your eggs scorch is not being bored. It's careless.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Onehappymeal, your description is great! I had to laugh when I read that, I have seen so many gifted kids like that - you are right on target! For some kids.

However, there are many different types of gifted kids, they don't all fit the same mold. Not one, but several teachers have told me the things I describe, the carelessness, inattentiveness to material already learned, boredom, in combination with other things, are "classic" symptoms of certain types of gifted children. As a matter of fact, just a couple of months ago a teacher told me that if teachers were to make up a list of things they look for in a gifted student, that would be on the checklist. Not for all types, but for some. My son has been in gifted education for 4 years, and every one of his gifted teachers has told me the same thing, along with most of his regular teachers.

For many years I felt the same way you do, and it was very frustrating to read the literature and listen to teachers tell me differently. Although they were the "experts", I was still convinced that they were wrong.

The thing that changed my mind was that my son was placed in classes that challenged him. His whole attitude, the quality of his work, everything changed, in those classes. He hates to write, but since he was placed in a challenging language arts class even his writing is great.

Anyway, the original thread was about standardized testing. Again, I don't know how I feel about standardized testing, but the fact that those higher-level questions are on standardized testing has helped my son, and many other kids, to be identified and given the help they need.

My point is not to justify standardized testing, it is simply that there is a purpose behind putting higher-level questions on those tests. My apologies to the original poster for hijacking the thread.

Anyway, thanks for listening, or reading. Even if you aren't convinced, onehappymeal, that's okay. If just one mom in my situation reads this and feels encouraged, that's good enough for me. We may not all agree, but how terrific that we can come here discuss this. Good night, all!


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RE: Standardized Testing....again...

April02, glad you liked my analogy, use it anytime! If you have a child like that, you're in good company. Have you read the cheetah analogy?


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Onehappymeal:

I have one like you describe (2nd grade), and one like Daisy describes (kindergarden). I think her analogy was meant to describe how SOME gifted children can get bored in school.

There are others (like my oldest son) who are so driven that they can make their parents and teacher crazy.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Sadiesmom, I'm grateful for your post, because I am only a student and you are a Professional...you did however explain what I was trying hard to say and not using the right words!:) Intrinsic motivation can be encouraged...or activities and lessons can be prepared that encourage intrinsic motivation. Right?? That's my understanding, I thought I was right. :(
I actually have been wondering if teaching will be for me after all, because I do have a lot of issues on how things are done. I have too many questions that I haven't recieved acceptable answers to! My dad is a teacher and he said that once he is in his classroom as long as he teaches the cirriculim that he is free to do the lessons however he wants.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Flowergirl:

I am not suggesting that you stop reading textbooks to give you some background on issues. However, you need to be able to think about what you have read and REJECT it if it just doesn't make sense. After all, academic researchers have their biases and can pass them on to you as "facts" (think about Alfie Kohn). You need to be able to think about this on your own and form your own opinions.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

IMO, gifted children should have good grades. I understand that they can be bored if they are way beyond the material being taught them, but they should get straight A's if they know it already. If they are not paying attention or not doing what is required of them - causing their poor grades - then that's another problem altogether.

Scorched eggs is one thing, but to put it in some other contexts: God forbid your doctor (an intern or resident) should get bored while saving your life. Ditto for your accountant who got so bored with your run-of-the-mill, totally unchallenging tax return that you end up paying way more tax than you should be. Or your lawyer, who was so bored with the typical child custody hearing that he loses the case for you.

Boredom is understandable. Not recognizing what is required of you to get good grades (i.e., do your job competently) is something else altogether.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

The reason they have to put all the higher level and all the lower level questions on the test and give the same thing to all the kids, is that they don't have the resources (or are too cheap to get the resources) to give tests the way they know they are better given: on the computer. I took the GRE last year, and they present each question as you go based on your answer to the previous question - they increase or decrease the level of difficulty based on the abilities you have shown. So whether the test-taker is ahead of the material or struggling, she gets an in-depth examination of her abilities - and doesn't have to sit through a bunch of useless questions.

Deb - Don't reconsider whether you want to teach, just start thinking about the kind of school you want to teach in. There are a lot of opportunities, if you go to the right area, to teach using alternative methods at private schools. I went to a VERY alternative private school for 1st - 5th grade. Right down to meditating twice a day, doing yoga, spending entire days walking in the woods instead of learning reading or math, no testing, no grades - and every kid who came out of that school tested three or four grade levels above public school expectations. My fiancee teaches at an alternative private school too - though it is nothing like the one I went to - but it is very different from a public school. Look around your area for schools that try to be different, and that might help you formulate a better idea of what you want from your education.


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RE: Standardized Testing - something else

Onehappymeal,

"IMO, gifted children should have good grades."

That is super that you have your opinion, but what they were talking about is what actually happens. Every teacher out there knows this and sees it repeatedly. So that is what they have to deal with. They can't just say, "well so-and-so is smart so he SHOULD be getting good grades. It is not my problem." A lot of smart people do things they shouldn't. Especially children.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

One terrific thing about discussions like this thread is that we can listen to the opinions of others, reflect on them, and our own opinions will either be strengthened or reshaped.

The original question was how do we feel about standardized tests, and I was on the fence. While I think standardized testing is misused and sometimes overused, this thread is convincing me that standardized testing definitely has its place.

Flowergirldeb2, my answer to your question is that standardized testing has benefitted my children. When teachers assessed my children's scores, they decided that my children had academic needs beyond the scope of the regular classroom. They are providing those resources for my son, and working on providing those resources for my daughter. My son is responding beautifully, it has been a real blessing for him, and I expect my daughter to respond well, too.

Onehappymeal, several years ago I remember telling my son's teacher, "Yes, I do understand that he is bored. It bores me to wash the dishes, but I still wash them anyway". You're right, children do have to be taught to do what's required.

However, when I, the straight A, panic-if-every-little-thing-on-my-schoolwork-wasn't-perfect student, grind my teeth and ask my husband how *** MY *** son could be like this, he laughs and says he was just like that as a boy. If my son gets anywhere close to being the responsible, successful man his father is, I will be a very proud mama.

Of course, I'll be a proud mama whether he discovers a cure for cancer or flips burgers!!!!


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RE: Standardized Testing....

DaisyinGa - I think I would be a little suspicious if a child's own teacher needed to see standardized test results to recognize the child's ability. It is good that they recognize it, however they do it, but I think it would be preferable if they recognized it through classroom interaction. If teachers can't do that, we might as well replace them with robots.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Anita:

Teachers need test scores and other FACTS to back up their assessments that a child would benefit from gifted education. School administrators are loathe to spend any money on special programs unless they can be justified. So unless a teacher has something to back up her observations it can be difficult to get a child placed in a special program. My son was recommended for gifted testing in October. The teacher knew he would qualify for the gifted program, but needed good test scores to back up her recommendation.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

They tell me everything has to be documented. Why not? Why? So, when someone brings up something you have it on record. Agree?


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Teachers keep documents all year. Every piece of written work is a document. I don't remember having to take a test to be in the gifted program.

Anyway, it doesn't matter to me if they document it with the state achievment tests or with something else. I just think any teacher who finds something new out about his or her students by reading their test scores is totally lacking in competence.

There are also highly gifted students who don't do well on standardized tests. I hope that schools give those kids opportunities to do advanced work in the areas in which they excel.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I spent a few hours this weekend talking to my niece and nephew and looking through some of their books. What I discovered, as I had remembered from my years in school, was that these kids (who both excel in school) are not left to bore themselves silly while the teacher explains basics that they had learned long ago. Their teacher assigns questions (many from their textbooks) that they are required to do for in-class assignments and sent home as homework exercises. The teacher tells them which questions they HAVE to do and be marked on. The teacher takes it one step further and assigns additional questions as "bonus" questions: the teacher tells them "if you finish these questions before class, try the following questions for bonus marks....". They are categorized in the texts as "Challenge Problems" and, even tougher, "Master Problems." One text even stated in the preface that the "Challenge Problems" are designed to be one grade level above the regular problems, and the "Master Problems" are designed to be two grade levels above.

Their teacher also encourages them, as an alternative to doing the "bonus" problems, to think of how the information they have learned in the current lesson might be used in the "real" world and to submit a written explanation for "bonus" points.

I realize this is just one school, but I know many textbooks have some extra, more difficult problems to titillate the minds of the "master thinkers." I don't think it's very difficult to keep gifted students' minds occupied. Additionally, this certainly is an easy way to identify gifted students without making the other students feel stupid by putting questions on a test that they won't (indeed, CAN'T) know the answers to. But, like Anita said, this requires that teachers be alert and recognize the gifted ones in the class.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I recall that when I was ahead in class, I would work on homework, so I would have less to do when I got home. I also did extra credit. I graduated high school with a very odd >4.0 GPA, because I made 110 to 120 on most tests.

We never explored my moving up a grade because personally I never had the desire. (it would mean moving to a class without my friends, and all those other earthshaking things that are important to kids). So if I got bored, I did extra work, got extra credit, whatever worked for that particular teacher, or else I read/studied for another class.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

We use to be able to do other things when we got our regular work. We were able to read a book or get a magazine or work on other assignments. I remember I must have written some "love letters" because I remember some good experiences which are funny even today.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

There was an very interesting article in the NY Times magazine section a couple of weeks ago on the pros and cons of standardized testing. I tried to access their achieves for a URL but it's an article that has a fee attached so I didn't get it. If you are interested, you might want to spend the time/money (a small fee) to access and read it. It's too long and complicated for me to try to summarize here. I do recall, though, that it mentioned that no past federal laws have met the established goals, the current one won't either and, in fact, there will be no repercussions, as written into the law, against school districts that fail to meet prescribed standards because to punish those schools is just not "p.c." It's a law with no teeth.

I have a friend, an elementary school principal, who would love to see her parents rebel against testing, as parents in some state have done. She feels that there is so much testing material to be covered that almost all spontaneity has been lost in the classroom. Teachers can't go off and explore an issue in depth because they just don't have time - covering the test material is their prime responsibility.

In reading the responses above, I didn't see anyone address the issue of kids with learning disabilities. In most states those kids are thrown in with "normal" students for testing purposes - is that fair?

However, on the opposite side, there is my state (I don't know about others) which has mandated testing for kids with severe developmental disabilities - for kids in special schools that accept tuition monies from the school districts from which their student population comes. I have very close knowledge of this "testing" and it is the most ridiculous thing ever invented. They want to affirm that these kids have achieved a standard within certain areas: language, literacy and math. For example, to "prove" that a child has learned the meaning of the word "open", the teacher can take a picture of this child opening a door. Does that really tell the powers that be that that child understands the meaning of the word? Or the teachers wear mikes and recording devices and record what goes on in the classroom, a classroom that has students who can barely be understood when talking face to face and not understood at all over a tape recorder.

On the flip side of that, our new commissioner of education has decided to eliminate some standardized testing as being useless.

We are going to end up like the Japanese who learn by rote in order to pass the strenuous testing to get into college - and who have no imagination or spontaneity.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Bettylou, thank you! Actually here in Illinois at the school my sister teaches at in a classroom with students who have learning disabilities, they aren't required to take the Standardized test. My sister said that when they did give these kids the test that the district administrator was extremely upset because of the obvious scores. Brought the entire school down I suppose. So somehow this particular classroom of kids with learning disabilities hasn't had the test recently. They may very well have another type of basic test though...I will check into that.
I love your clear examples of the teaching that occurs when teachers are forced to "teach to the test." I really wish that more parents and educators would protest these tests and educate themselves on BOTH sides of the testing issue. I believe that of course we need to measure what basic skills our kids are learning in school, but the standardized testing is NOT the proper way in my opinion to do this.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Seems there needs to be a standard in how the test is administered, who it is administered, and what should be on the test.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

That's part of my problem with the tests, there aren't any "standards" of such, state tests are all the same.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

I have to disgree on that. From the Florida website

Sunshine State Standards
Florida educators had created and adopted a rigorous set of standards. These standards tell us what students should know and be able to do from kindergarten through high school.

Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test
Florida educators had designed a criterion-referenced test, the FCAT, specifically to measure mastery of the Sunshine State Standards.

Mommabear


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RE: Standardized Testing....

What I meant was that these "standards" are across the board for ALL students to meet, not taking into account learning stlyes, social status, culture, etc...The states have the same tests given no matter where the school's are located, and like it or not our environment truly affects how we learn and percieve. Therefore, it's not possible in my opinion to get any accurate assessment from these tests. There's no accounting for individuality, these "standards" are biased, we need to consider other ways of assessing the ways our children learn and understand what they have been expected to learn in school.


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RE: Standardized Testing....

Of course they should be for ALL students, not just for the kids in wealthy schools, with good resources.

The kids who benefit the MOST from having standards are the kids who are in schools where it has already been predetermined that the kids can't learn (generally poor neighborhoods). Holding up a standard for the teachers and the students in these schools is the best thing that could ever happen to these kids. It takes away the excuse of not teaching them anything because someone has already written them off. Someone is actually saying that ALL CHILDREN SHOULD LEARN THESE THINGS. Not just rich kids in good schools. All the kids.

Mommabear


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