Originally Posted by famita;2583851;
Famita, I can speak from my experience teaching in Pennsylvania. We have a state test called the "PSSA" (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment). It consists of reading, math, and writing sections. Until Bush's No Child Left Behind was passed a few years back, this test was no big deal. It was a test that students took in 5th, 8th, and 11th grades.
There are levels associated with the test. Students score: below basic, basic, proficient, or advanced. All 12th graders must have a certain score to be able to graduate high school. I'm not exactly sure if there is a number involved or if they have to test proficient. I teach primary so I don't know much about the high school specifics.
The "test" has become so important because it can really make or break your school district. If a district doesn't make AYP (adequate yearly progress), you go on a "red flag" list. If the district consistently scores below what the state thinks is a proficient level, your school could lose funding and face major cutbacks because you aren't "making the grade". The state can come in and take over the district, which means they basically tell you what to do and there isn't a thing anyone can do about it.
"Teaching to the test", which is the term most teachers use, is almost unavoidable. Because of the extreme pressure put on students and teachers to raise standardized test scores, there is little room for creativity in the classroom. The pressure doesn't exist so much in K-2, because they don't have to worry about PSSAs. Instead of doing fun science projects or big, elaborate units in various subjects, many teachers find themselves constantly drilling math and reading, math and reading. There is so much to go over in the months leading up to the PSSA, it's hard to do anything but present the information and test the kids on it.
Teachers are held accountable for their students' performances. If the PSSA scores in your classroom are consistently low, there is a chance you could be fired or transferred elsewhere. I know in other states, if you raise the PSSA scores in your building, you could be transferred to a struggling building with the hopes that you can spark some change there too.
In my opinion, No Child Left Behind is crap. The President can't honestly think that children who need learning support and special education services are going to be able to perform on the same level as their peers in a regular education classroom on a standardized exam.
I hope I have answered some of your questions. I'm sure that you, as a parent, are concerned why there is so much emphasis put on the "test". Please don't put the blame on your child's teacher. The teacher is just doing what he/she has to in order to keep those standardized test scores up and keep the district afloat.