Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

Students Should be Treated Like People Not Numbers

December 6, 2011

I just read a piece too good to cut into excerpts. It’s written by Sheila French and is about the way she has learnt to approach parent-teacher conferences. She discusses the need to put grades and data to a side and instead, concentrate on talking about the child.

Below is the entire article. It is absolutely worth reading:

In elementary school Parent-Teacher Conferences come and go every year. This year I tried something new with the parents of my third graders at De Laveaga Elementary School. Rather than discussing test scores, grades and assessments I told the families I would like to talk about their child as a PERSON.

There’s no doubt about it, instruction in the kindergarten through high school is data driven. Our students have ID numbers, are assessed at least three times a year, and all of their data is kept on line. Our students are ranked anywhere from far below basic, basic, proficient to advanced.

But how are they as people? 

Are they able to work well with others?

Do they have the skills to make friends and create lasting relationships that will be needed throughout life?

Or our these children little turning into little robots who have “apps” for everything from studying their times tables to practicing for the SAT’s? Do these children of today need to memorize anything when they can run to their laptop and “Google” something?

I say there’s way too much emphasis put on test scores and grades. Let us step back and take a closer look at what our goals are as educators and parents. I don’t think I stand alone when I say that we would like to educate and parent children who have work-ethics, life skills and are well-rounded.

If you go to talk to your child’s teacher, go prepared to talk about your WHOLE child.  Go with a list (just like you’d go to the doctor), ready to ask questions about your child’s social behavior inside the classroom as well as outside on the playground. 

Before your parent-teacher conference, I suggest that you take the time to sit down and talk to your children. Ask them about their favorite classes. Where do they struggle? Do they have friends? Who are they? What do they do at recess? Of course these questions are not limited to pre-conference discussions. They are good conversations to have with your children on an on-going basis.

The playground is just as important as the classroom.

Chances are, the teacher will be more than happy to share some insight about your child as a whole person, not just another test score. Parents, take this opportunity to learn about your child from someone who cares about your child’s social, emotional and education development. This will ensure that our students become GOOD people even in this crazy data-driven world.

Ms. French has echoed many of the points I have made on this blog (although she writes more eloquently). She is absolutely right to point out that the playground is as important as the classroom.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have.

Bizarre Ideas in Education

February 24, 2011

I’ve written about this before, but I still can’t believe that this insane idea is gaining momentum.  Yes, it’s true that teachers often get frustrated by what they believe is negligent parenting of their students.  Does that give them the right to formally assess their perceived incompetence?

The idea of giving teachers the responsibility to write report cards about their students’ parents is ridiculous.  Yet, the idea is not going away:

Legislation from a Florida lawmaker has parents pondering how they’d be graded on their involvement in their child’s education: satisfactory, unsatisfactory or needs improvement?

Public school teachers in Florida would be required to grade the parents of students in kindergarten through the third grade, under a bill introduced by Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

The bill has gotten the married mother of five national attention because there’s been so much emphasis on tying teacher salaries and advancement to student performance.

“We have student accountability, we have teacher accountability, and we have administration accountability,” CNN.com quotes Stargel as saying, “This was the missing link, which was, look at the parent and making sure the parents are held accountable.”

The grading system is based on three criteria that Stargel wrote in the legislation:

• A child should be at school on time, prepared to learn after a good night’s sleep, and have eaten a meal.
• A child should have the homework done and prepared for examinations.
• There should be regular communication between the parent and teacher.

Unbelievable!  Is it not the child’s responsibility to take ownership over their own homework? Did I just read that a child should have eaten a meal?  If a teacher is aware that their student isn’t being fed, the teacher has a responsibility to notify child protection authorities, not mess around with assessment forms!

Sure there are bad parents out there, but what is a report card going to achieve anyway?  How is a report going to change the error of their ways?

“Thanks teacher.  I needed that. I had no idea I was a bad parent.  I feel so much better now!”

I suppose, teachers needn’t worry.  A policy as silly as this will never be seriously contemplated.  Well, at least I hope not ….


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