Posts Tagged ‘Standardized Testing’

Our Education System Betrays Boys

December 16, 2013

boy

It bothers me when, as a result of girls outperforming boys on standardised tests, the assumption is made that girls are better equipped to succeed as they are inherently more academic.

Perhaps that assumption is true, but has it been thoroughly tested? What, if anything, has been done to change the way boys are being taught?

Dr. Kevin Donnelly, one of the sharpest minds in education policy and analysis is right to raise a few challenges which have, in his view, prevented boys from having an equal chance to shine in the classroom:

As to why our education system discriminates in favour of girls the reasons aren’t hard to find. As argued by the American author Michael Gurian “male and female brains learn differently” with girls maturing before boys in terms of academic ability, being able to socialise and interact with others and being more articulate expressing emotions.

When it comes to teaching primary school children how to read the most popular approach, called whole language where readers are told to look and guess, favours girls.

Boys need a highly structured, systematic model of reading based on phonics and phonemic awareness where they learn the relationship between letters and sounds and combinations of letters and sounds – the very approach no longer taught.

Since the late ’60s and early ’70s, mainly due to the rise of feminism and the fact that there are so few male primary school teachers, the way teachers teach and the way classrooms are structured have been feminised.

Teachers no longer stand at the front of the room and children are expected to direct their own learning in open, mixed ability classrooms. As a result, boys are easily distracted, become behavioural problems and soon fall behind.

The fact that a lot of learning adopts an open-ended, inquiry approach where teachers become guides by the side and facilitate instead of directing what should happen also works against boys’ preferred learning styles.

Boys need clear direction, explicit goals, timely feedback and an orderly classroom environment where they know what they have to do and what constitutes pass and fail.

Boys also need to be taught to respect authority and to have teachers prepared to enforce a disciplined environment where there are consequences for misbehaviour.

While there is no doubt that many women are still discriminated against and that significant issues like domestic violence must be addressed, it’s also true that making education more girl friendly shouldn’t mean that boys lose out.

Click on the link to read  Are Kindergarten Teachers Biased Against Boys?

Click on the link to read Should We Include Feminism in the Curriculum?

Click on the link to read Arguments For and Against Single-Sex Education

Click on the link to read The Perfect Example of Courage and Self-Respect

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The Negative Effects of Standardized Testing are Exaggerated

June 12, 2013

 

You only have to read some of my posts on standardized testing to be certain that I am hardly a fan, but as bad as they are, there are bigger detracting factors effecting education today than these tests. The rap song above which was recently released and is becoming popular among teachers is an example in point.

Click on the link to read Standardized Tests for Teachers!

Click on the link to read Oops, We Seem to Have Lost Your Exams

Click on the link to read I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

Click on the link to read Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

Standardized Testing Sucking the Love Out of Teaching (Video)

May 26, 2013

 

 

Many teachers have had their love of teaching eroded because of the emphasis on standardized testing. The teacher featured in this powerful video above, uses YouTube to resign from a profession she once loved.

I found this quote to be most compelling:

“Raising students’ test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal. And in order to achieve it, the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated. Everything I loved about teaching is extinct.”

 

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Cheat are “as Dumb as Hell”

Click on the link to read Standardized Tests for Teachers!

Click on the link to read Oops, We Seem to Have Lost Your Exams

Click on the link to read I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

Click on the link to read Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

 

Schools that Get Rid of Recess Should be Struck from Funding

September 11, 2012

There are programs and activities that I would classify as expendable – recess is not one of them! How a school could justify putting a stop to recess is beyond me. Even in prison there is circle work and yard time. Why on earth would a school want to deprive its students from the social and physical outlet that recess presents? Kids are forced to sit at their desks for hours without socialising with their peers. They long for the chance to get out into the fresh air with their friends. What school would deprive them of that right?

There’s not a minute to waste in the school day for Syracuse elementary students. There’s not even a minute reserved for recess.

The city’s elementary schools have master schedules for the new year and they include zero time blocked out for recess. The schedule requires every minute of a student’s day, except a half-hour lunch, to be spent on instruction.

At least one city school and more than a few teachers took the schedule to mean there could be no more recess, although district Chief Academic Officer Laura Kelley said teachers can offer recess if they want.

It is not clear how teachers could squeeze in recess and still spend the required number of minutes on instruction.

“If they are going to opt to do recess, they are going to be taking time from ELA (English language arts) and math, and that’s a choice I hope every teacher considers very carefully,” Kelley said.

This is absolutely disgraceful! I wouldn’t consider this very carefully at all. If the wellbeing of your students is your first priority, then recess is FAR more important than an extra lesson of math or English.

In fact, I would take my students outside for the day in protest. I would integrate my curriculum for the day around recess. I would have math related recess activities, language based recess activities etc.

To ban recess is tantamount to banning teachers from going home to have dinners with their families, with the reasoning that this time could be used for planning lessons.

I hate some of the trends being flagged in educational circles. They put achievement before child welfare, process before outcomes, political correctness before common sense and regulations before freedoms.

One of my non-negotiable as a teacher is – my students have the right to enjoy their school day!

 

 

Teachers Who Cheat are “as Dumb as Hell”

August 30, 2012

Maths teacher Shayla Smith is accused of providing the worst excuse for allegedly giving her students the answers on their state exams – they were “dumb as hell.”

Atlanta math teacher Shayla Smith is accused of giving students answers to state exams because they were “dumb as hell.”

A tribunal hired to investigate a widespread cheating scandal among Atlanta Public School teachers and administrators is recommending that the school board fire Smith by not renewing her contract. She was a fifth-grade teacher at Dobbs Elementary School, and is one of about 180 Atlanta educators accused of various improprieties related to the administration of state exams — including erasing wrong answers on students’ multiple choice exams and replacing them with correct ones.

Dobbs fourth grade teacher Schajuan Jones taught in a classroom across from Smith, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Jones testified during the hearing that she had overheard Smith speaking with a teacher in the hallway about administering a test for her students.

“The words were, ‘I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they’re dumb as hell,'” Jones said.

 

Click on the link to read Standardized Tests for Teachers!

Click on the link to read Oops, We Seem to Have Lost Your Exams

Click on the link to read I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

Click on the link to read Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

The Dog Eat Dog Style of Education

August 23, 2012

Classrooms are increasingly becoming a case of a battle of the fittest. The pressure to deliver individual achievement on curriculum benchmarks and standardized testing have not helped. More and more we are seeing classroom relationships fracture and a strong preference for achievement over effort.

A friend of mine discussed an issue he was having with his son’s school. He told me that his son’s teacher is rewarding some of his students for reaching a certain goal. His son, among others, are excluded from a field trip because they didn’t fully rote learn the expected material. He tried his best, but didn’t get there by the deadline. He is in Grade 4 and is already being excluded for not meeting benchmarks.

When I was doing my teaching rounds I encountered a scenario in the music room where a child had disturbed the class. The teacher was considering punishing the child by excluding him from the next activity. The teacher decided to ask the class to determine this child’s fate. The teacher gave them two options. The first was to give the boy one more chance, the second was to exclude him. I watched in amazement as the entire class voted to prevent him from taking part in the activity. The class were taught to be ruthless towards each other so that’s what they did.

When will our educators realise that a child cannot achieve their potential when they are not valued for their efforts or respected by their peers? All this talk of ‘child centered teaching’ and ‘teacher centered teaching’ is off the mark. I prefer, what I call, ‘classroom centered teaching‘ – where the needs of the group necessitate the style in which I teach. According to this method, it is my job as my first priority to ensure that each child feels valued for who they are, what skills they have and how they are treated by their peers.

This means that when there is a disagreement among students, I do not hesitate to use teaching time to work things out. The time I invest into the social environment in my class has a strong impact on academic progress. Those of you that have witnessed a rift between students or groups of students in the classroom may have noticed how hard it is to get the class to focus on classwork when the  playground politics is unresolved.

Whilst standardised testing doesn’t consider a child’s effort or the qualities and interests of a child, I can think of nothing more important. When a teacher decides to treat half the class at the expense of the other half, they are anointing winners and losers.

My students are all winners.

Click on the link to read Problem Kids, Suspensions and Revolving Doors

Click on the link to read The Solution to the Disruptive Student Has Arrived: Body Language Classes
Click on the link to read When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does
Click on the link to read Teachers Should Stop Blaming Parents and Start Acting

Standardized Tests for Teachers!

August 2, 2012

After what I put my students through last term, I’m sure they would love to see me sit for some exams. They would be more than happy to preside over the testing and ensure I don’t try to cheat from the teacher sitting next to me:

The Indonesian Government’s been forced to defend its attempt to test the country’s one-million teachers, after the first run was plagued with problems and allegations of corruption.

In an attempt to improve education, Indonesia has begun testing the performance of teachers, instead of students.

This week it launched the first online exam to assess the abilities of those who are educating the country’s children.

One million teachers will be tested in 3,500 locations across 33 provinces.

But the head of the Education Ministry admits that on the first day, only 10 per cent of the teachers who attempted were able to log on and sit the test.

Click on the link to read Oops, We Seem to Have Lost Your Exams

Click on the link to read I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

Click on the link to read Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

Pushy Parents and those Awful Standardised Tests!

May 13, 2012

So it turns out that some parents are so keen to have their children perform at the NAPLAN tests (Australia’s standardised tests) that they have started preparing them as early as kindergarten age. I couldn’t think of anything more dispiriting for a child. It’s bad enough I have to teach my Grade 3’s based on the questions they are bound to encounter during the tests, what could be worse than being subjected to it, up to 5 years in advance?

PUSHY parents are training kindergarten kids for Naplan – four years before they have to sit the controversial literacy and numeracy tests.

About a million students – in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – will sit this year’s tests over three days next week.

But the pressure to perform is beginning years early, with some parents forcing their four-year-olds to take grade 3-level tests at home.

Dr Les Michel, from the Senior Students Resource Centre, said pre-school parents had joined the soaring demand for practice Naplan tests.

“This year we’ve even been getting kinder parents,” Dr Michel said.

“We would have had dozens, I’d say.”

Dr Michel said kindergarten parents bought the grade 3-level booklets, costing up to $24.95 each.

“They are really pushing their kids,” he said.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said Naplan practice for pre-schoolers was “highly alarming”.

“It’s putting more pressure on kids at such a young age that they really don’t need, and it’s usurping the role that teachers in the classroom play, which is completely unnecessary,” he said.

However schools are also increasing the pressure, with “teaching for the test” now beginning as early as grade 1.

“We’re aware of it happening, even though people won’t admit it on the record, and why would they?” Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said.

“It demonstrates the desperation of some schools – their reputation hangs on it.”

Victorian Independent Education Union secretary Deb James said there was an “increased and unwelcome” focus on the tests in schools.

Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett said: “Kids sitting down and practising tests is not the way to learn.”

Lucky for these pushy parents, I have some suggested exercises for them to set for their children.

 

To prepare them for the persuasive writing exam, you could set your child some of the following topics:

1. What is more fun, studying language conventions or playing outside with friends?

2. Is doing practice tests with mum and dad considered quality time?

3. Is learning for fun overrated?

 

To prepare them for the maths paper, I have the following suggested activities:

1. Count up the blisters that you have accrued from all the writing you’ve done and round the number to the nearest ten.

2. If Johnny went to school from 8:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m. and then spent the next 2 hours completing timed reading comprehension exams, how much time does he have to relax?

3. What percentage of pushy parents ends up rearing appreciative kids?

Good luck parents!

Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

March 30, 2012

The rise of standardised testing has replaced authentic teaching and learning with a saturation of practise and formal testing:

SATURATION testing is seriously undermining the quality of primary school education and should be stopped immediately, parents and educators claimed yesterday.

Thousands of kids are subjected to trial exams every week in the lead up to the compulsory Naplan tests, as well as exams for opportunity classes or selective high schools, and coaching by private tutors.

But while Naplan, which forms the basis of performance ratings on the My School website, focuses on literacy and numeracy, experts claim they are being “taught to the test” at the expense of other areas such as arts, physical education and music.

With the barrage of testing beginning in kindergarten, education consultant and public schools principals’ forum official Brian Chudleigh said the system was “out of control” and skewing education in the wrong direction. A former senior principal who is the education expert for The Daily Telegraph’s People’s Plan, Mr Chudleigh said the testing regime was contributing to a “massive dysfunction” in the state’s education system.

“We have become a system that is manic about measurement – the main problem is that it is so convenient for the politicians,” he said. “They want to reduce things to the value of a percentile or a number, and that has an impact on education.

“If a kid can’t be measured they don’t want to know about it.

“It reduces the value of anything that you can’t measure and the curriculum becomes focused on the measurable stuff,” Mr Chudleigh said.

“So the development of the whole child – including socialisation, emotional welfare, physical fitness and cultural factors – are relegated in importance.

“Many schools are having two or three lessons every week practising Naplan-style tests and that takes valuable teaching time away from other subjects. A lot of the best stuff we do with kids, particularly in primary school, is not measurable.

“It’s out of control. But our universities are littered with these kids who don’t do as well there as the generally all-round educated students.”

Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations spokeswoman Rachael Sowden said being taught to the test was “not what parents want”.

“They do not want to know that their child scored three marks more than the kid down the street,” she said. “Parents are as concerned about the whole child and how they are going in creative arts, physical education and music as much as in literacy and numeracy.

“Parents do want to know where their child is up to at school and they do that best by having a conversation with the teacher.”

I hate having to prepare 8 year-olds who have never sat for a formal test before for the rigours of the 3 day marathon that is NAPLAN. It’s just not fair! They are too young!

I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

March 4, 2012

I completely and utterly detest standardised testing. My Grade 3 students are just 8 years old. How unbelievable insensitive of our Federal Government to subject these kids to a week-long torturous array of formal testing!  These kids have had little to no experience with test papers and exam conditions, and no matter how calm and stress free I am trying to make my classroom, my students know that it’s coming and they don’t like it one bit!

HIGH STAKE standardised tests, such as NAPLAN, are having a negative impact on children with experts saying such examinations reduce the ability to learn.

Nationwide testing of students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 was introduced by the federal government four years ago to allow parents and teachers to benchmark the numeracy and literacy levels of individual children and specific schools.

But a review of academic literature on the issue released by the University of Western Sydney’s Whitlam Institute revealed national testing programs such as NAPLAN were a source of significant stress for young people and their families.

Institute director Eric Sidotti said schools can become ”emotional cauldrons”.”It should come as no surprise that the introduction of a national regime of standardised external testing would become a lightning rod of claim and counter-claim and a battleground for competing educational philosophies,” he said.

The review found ”a range of concerns” about the reliability of standardised testing, quality of learning experiences, structure of the curriculum and health and well-being of children.

There is also evidence of negative effects on service delivery; professional-parent relationships; and stress, anxiety, pressure and fear experienced by students.

Research also found a negative impact on teaching, with standardised tests putting pressure on teachers to emphasise results over holistic learning.

”Teachers will focus on the areas in which students will be tested, while reducing the proportion of class time devoted to curriculum areas not included in state tests,” the review notes.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said tests measuring the progress of more than a million Australian students over the past four years allowed parents to identify schools where students achieve comparative improvement over peers of a similar background.

Ms Gillard said NAPLAN lifted the academic performance of students, giving teachers feedback on education strategies and providing disadvantaged schools with access to extra funding.

”We want every child in Australia to have access to a world class education,” she said.

”My School is pivotal to this. It helps us see what works and which schools need support to improve.”

There is nothing positive to come out of these tests. It negatively affects the way my students view learning, it affects the way I teach and it prevents what should be a fun year from eventuating. If you want to test high school kids, go ahead. But leave my Grade 3’s out of your mean experiment!

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