Standardized Tests Are Not Objective Measures of Anything


If you teach a kid, birthed a kid, are a kid, used to be a kid, or are planning to rely on today’s kids to whip this planet and its inhabitants back into shape, please read every word of this. And then tell everyone you know to read every word of this. Thank you, Steven Singer.

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When it comes to standardized tests, most people are blinded by science.

Or at least the appearance of science.

Because there is little about these assessments that is scientific, factual or unbiased.

And that has real world implications when it comes to education policy.

First of all, the federal government requires that all public school children take these assessments in 3-8th grade and once in high school. Second, many states require teachers be evaluated by their students’ test scores.

Why?

It seems to come down to three main reasons:

1) Comparability
2) Accountability
3) Objectivity

COMPARABILITY

First, there is a strong desire to compare students and student groups, one with the other.

We look at learning like athletics. Who has shown the most success, and thereby is better than everyone else?

This is true for students in a single class, students in a single grade, an…

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“Yes, You Are Allowed To Do That!” One Principal’s Mission to Bring Back Play in School


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Let them play.

Every so often I come across a post whose truth needs to be read by as many people as possible. I’m posting this here, I’m tweeting it, and I’m posting to my Facebook page, and I encourage you to link to the story as well. Click the link below for the full post, and thank you Brett Gustafson for sharing this!

by Brett Gustafson As a principal for the last 13 years, I have come to the realization that the biggest threat to the emotional and academic well-being of our children is me – maybe not me persona…

Click for full piece:

“Yes, You Are Allowed To Do That!” One Principal’s Mission to Bring Back Play in School

This is me, 2016.


                                 peace cat.jpg

I am planning to post on a regular basis this year (though I’ve been posting pretty regularly every 4-6 months; let me amend this to: I plan to post on a regular, more frequent basis this year). While there still may be a lack of rhyme/reason to post themes, there will be several areas about which I’ll want to write, get your opinions, or ask for your advice:

  • Education. The political side, or the classroom side. I teach Elementary age children of poverty, and have for my entire 32-year career. I am currently serving as the Music Teacher and Gifted Ed teacher at my school.
  • Philosophy/Politics. I am a left-leaning, born-too-late-to-be-a-real-hippie liberal, so my posts will reflect that.
  • I’m going to share more about some chronic health issues that have hit me like a sledgehammer over the last few years-Diabetes (the newest) and Asthma being the two that have hit me hardest. I will share how I’m dealing, and probably ask for a lot of advice (with the DISCLAIMER! I am not a doctor, and I know that you are not, so anything we share with each other will NOT be construed for, or be intended to replace, advice from actual medical professionals). Neither one of this conditions is actually under control, so you may hear a tinge of frustration as I write about them.
  • Cats. Of course.

And my kid. Of course.

So the 2016 Journey begins. Hope you’ll hang with me and maybe we’ll have some great discussions and learn some good stuff on the way.

Peace, friends, and Happy New Year!

Teach students to care about others instead of measuring how they compare to each other


Heartfelt post about the Test Mess

This post.  Not my work, but it’s what I would have said, though maybe not as eloquently. Read and share if you would-if you know/are a teacher, parent, or student, you know how vital it is to return to the REAL priorities in education…and in life.

 

Bubble, Schmubble


This letter, from my friend and colleague Jenny, should be read by teachers and parents alike. After you read it, share it with a teacher, an administrator, your local School Board, and your legislators. These heartfelt words can help keep the tide turning away from profiteering and back toward what’s best for children.

Stop, Take a breath. Read this.
Stop, Take a breath. Read this.

Dear Teachers,

As I walk the halls and parking lots of our schools I hear your cautious voices, your pleas to make sense of political madness, and your cries to create an educational system that makes sense again. I can see your tired eyes and your worry lines. I know that you are balancing the needs of my children, the demands of rigor, and the pressures of high stakes testing and accountability. I know you feel like you cannot do everything. I know that too often you feel you are failing someone – and most days, you are sad to admit, that it is children whom you fail the most. I see and hear your daily struggles between what is right for children and what is asked of you. And so I am writing to tell each of you to stop. Stop playing a game you will never win and start standing up for children.

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Killing Kindergarten



I read this piece on Huffington Post and had to comment (the link to the article is below):

“Thank you for this post-a perfect illustration of what NCLB and it’s offspring has done to our children (not FOR them). I will repost in the hope that at least one narrow mind might be opened and we can get closer to going back to teaching children, not teaching the test.”

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

I remember Randall


I remember a small, wiry boy with locs, who bounced into my classroom as a five year old. He sang with gusto, was a class clown, and made me laugh even when he was disrupting my ‘teacher’s flow.’

I remember his big round eyes that took everything in. I remember an infectious, impish grin that showed that he got the joke. I remember him sometimes wanting to sing in my chorus, sometimes not; when he did, all eyes turned to the skinny boy with the big smile and saucer eyes that peeked through the floppy, beautiful locs.

I remember watching him run 5k races with his up-and-down stride that still managed to propel him forward. I remember every hug, every high-five, and every field trip. What I don’t remember is anything in him that would cause him to take his own life before his 20th birthday. Rest in Peace, Randall; I hope you know how much you were loved.

My lessons from this? Always listen to every kid. There’s a girl I spend time with at the school bus stop every morning. She has a habit of telling me every detail of every minute of her life each day, while standing so close that I can feel her breath (if you know me, you know that I’m a toucher/hugger and my personal space cushion is very small, so if this is making me uneasy, you KNOW she’s too close for comfort!). This week I’ve made a real effort to pay close attention to her, to take slow deep breaths when I feel my space encroached and to just relax. I wonder: if a few more people had listened to Randall, would that have made a difference?

It also was, as these tragedies tend to be, a mighty perspective check. Really, when things like this are happening, is whatever I’m worrying/arguing/bitching about really a 10 on the emotional Richter scale? Of course not. Randall’s battle wasn’t about healthcare, partisan politics, talk radio ping-pong, global warming, or who deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. Randall’s battle was about survival, and he lost. So did the world.

Maybe, the next time any of us feel like criticizing someone, making an unkind remark, or flying off the handle about something, we could stop and ask ourselves, “Is this a 10?” If not, maybe it doesn’t need to be released into the universe. Maybe a deep breath, a quick perspective check, and a prayer would restore patience and compassion. Who knows?  That peaceful pause might save a life.

Peace, friends.