Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Standardized Testing Gone Wild

Pep Rally Edition:

Students in the Clarke County School District will sharpen their pencils for the first time today, following students in several other area school systems who started taking the high-stakes standardized test earlier this week.

"This is like our Super Bowl, and our players are dressed and they are ready to take the field," said Melanie James, assistant principal at Fowler Drive Elementary School. "This is what we practice for all year."

Fowler Drive Elementary held a pep rally to psych up students for the mandatory test, which is given every year in first through eighth grades across Georgia. Students in three of those grades - 3, 5 and 8 - must pass the CRCT's math and English/language arts components to move up to the next grade.

Fowler Drive administrators decided to use the pep rally to help students build their self-confidence and avoid test-taking traps, like getting stuck on a question, starting to doubt themselves and shutting down.

"It gives them a sense of unity and that they're in this together," Principal Dale Rogers said. "They're all in the same boat."

Albeit the Titanic. Not the kids or this school per se, but the entire standardized test rat race we put students, teachers and administrators through every spring. Look at the comments: "This is what we practice for all year." I can't summarize it better than that.

At the Fowler Drive pep rally Monday, students and staff didn't focus on the consequences of failure. In fact, no one uttered the word.

Fifth-grade students performed a skit about taking the test and sang re-mixes of Miley Cyrus and NAS songs (with lyrics about the test). A first-grade student even showed off his breakdancing skills.

Again, I have no problem with trying to psyche the students up to perform well...what choice do they have when faced with cuts in funding, possible termination for non-performance, and some know-nothing educrat from the state or federal government coming in and pronouncing them "a failure"?

What I have a problem with is the unnecessary, high-stakes sword hanging over everyone, no matter how well they may breakdance to alleviate the pressure (side bar: is breakdancing still around?). Considering the millions and millions we spend on prep, administration of the test, and "cheating investigations," the term that comes to mind, from the world of organized crime, is a racket.

My kids have been talking about the prep since last week, with my 2nd grader announcing he was pleased to be taking the test since "it means I don't have any homework the whole week," and my kindergartner looking forward to his school field trips. Why are the Kindergartners and pre-K kids being sent on field trips? As my second grader put it, "to keep it quiet around there during the test."

Out of the mouths of babes, your tax dollars hard at work.

1 comment:

Jay Livingston said...

Breakdancing still around? Surely you jest. Go to YouTube and search for the word. Or change subway trains at Times Square.