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Thread: Talk about your troubles

  1. #4811
    FORT Writer AshleyPSU's Avatar
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by famita;2583851;
    How did our country get so hung up on standardized tests? Are they standardized with other countries? Does every single child have to pass in order to graduate? Is it hurting or helping our children learn? Does it hurt or help them to further their education? Does it hurt or help them to get a job after graduation? Do we teach to cover the stardardized test or teach with the standardized test? It seems to me as a parent that teachers are getting soooo hung up on the "test" they forget that there's more to life than a "test". And administrators need to know that there is more to life than the results of the "test". And whoever made the "test" mandatory should have to take the test her/himself!

    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.

  2. #4812
    FORT Fogey Add It Up Champion famita's Avatar
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    AshleyPSU, my problem has never been with the teacher in the classroom. My problem is with the testing. We were taught problem solving, common sense, along with the 3 R's. I don't think the kids of today are getting that. They are getting more formulas rather than life's lessons. I believe that teachers should be paid more. I believe that they end up teaching life's lessons more than some parents are capable of. I guess my bottom line is that tests don't show everything about a student and it's my belief that they should be abolished. Thankfully my boys are out of the school system and in the early adult world now. My oldest son passed his necessary for graduation tests in the 8th grade so I didn't worry about him. My other two passed theirs in the 11th grade so I didn't worry about them. I just worry about those who don't take tests well and have no one to be the avenging angel for them.

  3. #4813
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    My mother retired earlier this year after about 35 years of teaching. The stress of No Child Left Behind was a big part of her decision to go ahead and retire. She said it severely limited her ability to get more in-depth when the subject might warrant it, she didn't have time to do fun experiments with the kids (she taught 6th grade science) and her school district's administration had inexplicably tacked on assessment tests every 9 weeks to see how kids were doing -- which took away teaching hours and added yet another layer of bureacracy. She was miserable in her last year of teaching and I'm glad she got out. But that's at least one good teacher who left teaching because (partly) of those tests.

    It's been a long time since I had to deal with standardized testing myself, but I don't see how a system that measures more memorization than understanding helps anyone. And NCLB and our state's Standards of Learning tests punish teachers and schools when kids don't do well enough -- even though some kids will NEVER do well on those tests.
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    even though some kids will NEVER do well on those tests.
    It almost seems that the government thinks that it can eliminate the left half of the IQ bell curve by threatening the schools.
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    FORT Fogey Add It Up Champion famita's Avatar
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    It either threatens the left half or it makes them feel like failures and impels them out of school into the work force. Do these standardized tests take into account the number of dropouts?

  6. #4816
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by AJane;2584133;
    We've had standardized testing in schools in Canada for...well, a long time, because I remember taking them. As I recall, they are problem-solving and skill-testing. For instance, on the math portion, they give you one of those "The train is leaving the station at 2 pm, going 60 miles an hour..." - you know the type. For reading, there's a paragraph or short story, and the questions are structured around reading comprehension. They weren't really difficult at all, and I always assumed that they were used to ensure that kids were at least learning the minimum they needed to. It doesn't affect funding for schools, to the best of my knowledge. The structure of the tests hasn't changed either, apparently - we were at a parent-teacher meeting last week and the school principal explained the content of them, and it sounded exactly the same as I recall.

    My older daughter's school also did very well on the tests (only grades 3 and 6 take them). I'm taking that to mean that the teachers are doing their job.
    You can also take it to mean the parents are doing their job and that there aren't too many poor children in the district whose parents are working two jobs or too many recent immigrants. Some districts every child enters first grade already scoring above average...others every child enters way behind. Teachers can do a lot, but the children have to be there consistently and able to understand for that to happen, and have to have had a good pre-school start whether at home, in the womb, or in nursery school. Taking funding from a system because it starts the "game" with many disadvantaged children is nuts....

  7. #4817
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by AshleyPSU;2584590;
    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.

    You put it so well and this is how both Florida and SC do it too, so its probably pretty much the same in all 50 states because of no child left behind.

    I'm sorry, but some children are going to be left behind, but its unavoidable in my opinion for a variety of reasons. Not all children learn on the same level, some have disabilities and some, like one in a friend of mine's class so doesn't give a crap, that he purposely chooses not to do the work, let alone the test, but his scores still count and I don't think that's fair.

    Let's face, we're not all born to be rocket scientists and brain surgeons, some of us are born to lesser things, some to greater things. Sure a good education gives you a leg up, but some kids are just not going to do well either in the classroom or on the test and are just going to get left behind, no matter what the teachers, schools or government does.
    And it stresses the kids, because the teachers are stressed and pressured by the administration who is pressured by the district who wants to get federal funds and they pass that stress down the line until the kids are stressed as well.
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  8. #4818
    She luvs me not?!?!?! Vonna's Avatar
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but my son and daughter in law have been trying to conceive for about three years. We were up North visiting them over the weekend when we found out my DIL apparently has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It sounds pretty serious. I had never heard of it before. Has anyone dealt with this or know anyone who has? I feel so terrible for her....they want a baby so much.
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  9. #4819
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Quote Originally Posted by Vonna;2586788;
    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but my son and daughter in law have been trying to conceive for about three years. We were up North visiting them over the weekend when we found out my DIL apparently has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It sounds pretty serious. I had never heard of it before. Has anyone dealt with this or know anyone who has? I feel so terrible for her....they want a baby so much.
    Vonna, I'm sorry to hear that. I used to work for an OB/GYN and we had several patients with this. There is some good news. With fertility drugs, the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS are fairly good.

    There are treatments for this, so hopefully your DIL won't have to suffer some of the side effects. Best wishes to her and your son.
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  10. #4820
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    Re: Talk about your troubles

    Sorry to hear about your DIL hope everything works out ok.
    Famita- In Florida we have a test called the FCAT. It stresses just about everyone out from the school Superintendant to the student's parents. It shows how much the kids have learned and how well the school teaches them, but to me its just a crock.
    Ok an update on Critter. Hubby and I took her to the vet yesterday they put a tube in her paw and sucked out the gunk from her paw. Well Critter has thumbs and she had two claws stuck and thats how it got infected. We took Critter home with us and last night it was a little touch and go, for you see the vet over medicated her and she was a little on the high side to the point where she almost died. We stayed up with her for most of the night and now shes doing fine a little groggy, but just fine. Hubby has been giving her meds and some water and I've been cleaning out the wound with hydrogen peroxide.
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