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Monday, April 18, 2016

PARCC

I have to admit that this week's reading was tougher for me, because I do not have any experience with testing or public school teaching.  It was disheartening, however, to read about how much of a struggle this testing is for students, especially those with disabilities.  It seems from educators' experiences and observations, that the testing is not productive in the least, rather, it sets students back in terms of their confidence and willingness to learn. Further, through my own experiences, I have seen how deeply and negatively change in structure and routine can affect young students, and the schedule change that is so drastically implemented during testing periods cannot be helping said students.  In addition to this, it is insane to believe that a third grader can sit for that duration of time and type on a computer for timed testing.  I feel, as it seems the educators the authors of this paper surveyed also feel, that it is completely ridiculous for these students to have to undergo such testing.

Furthermore, as the authors argue, I feel curriculum and content that is supposed to be included and taught is probably being forgotten about, simply to try to help children prepare for a test that they have little chance to be fully prepared for; as if it it setting these children up to fail, and still not learn the content they need to actually be learning.  "In some cases, teachers reported that 'whole curriculum projects were put on hold and maybe cancelled because tech was reserved for PARCC.'  Essentially, teachers had two options: speed through content too quickly or skip certain content altogether.  Either way, both situations were detrimental t learning" (10).  I can see how detrimental this can be to all students, but especially ELLs and students with disabilities.  I cannot imagine how difficult and overwhelming it would be for young students who have a tough time with everyday curriculum, to be thrown into testing in this fashion.

I noticed from all of the data graphs taken from teachers answers on the surveys, that is not a small amount of teachers that strongly disagree with the positivity or usefulness of this testing, but rather, more than 80% on all of the questions asked.  If the majority of educators feel so strongly against this testing, why has nothing been taken away from that and changed?  From my own experiences when I was in elementary school, I remember teachers cramming material into us and almost drilling into our heads for weeks before standardized testing; when I look back on all of that, I could not tell you one thing I learned.  It's purposeless to drill something into children's heads all for a test, only to be lost shortly after, in place of teaching them meaningful curriculum that they actually need.

I enjoyed reading the authors' ideas for solutions, and I agree that public conversations with teachers and parents should be conducted to find solutions, and that there should be authentic opportunities for teachers and educational researchers to help plan an assessment system based on the local and diverse student population.  I think this is the most important thing we can do, because it seems standardized testing is not helping anyone in any influential way.

I look forward to reading everyone's blogs this week, because like I said, I have no experience with this, and I know the majority of you all do!  I also found an interesting article mentioning the issue that people assume students actually try on standardized tests, when in fact, many do not even bother.





2 comments:

  1. Thanks Amanda! Your blog post touched upon some of the same takeaways that I have after reading this week. I can't help but think about my experience in K-12 schools, taking standardized tests. I remember it being a BIG DEAL to take the standardized test each year, we were given special breakfasts, treats, incentives, even a half-day schedule for a week! Looking back, I also remember teachers helping us cram for the test, but don't remember any of that information. I feel like the environment of your school and the feelings of teachers plays a big role in how successful you feel as a student taking a standardized test. This can certainly be problematic.

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  2. Amanda, i love the cartoon about being fair. The Washington Post article about how there are students who do not care about the tests no matter what you say to them. I had "First Month" ELLs and they could hardly read any English words. A test of 35 questions was completed in less than fifteen minutes. They told me that if they can not read the question and if I could not translate or help them in any way, then why should they waste their time taking a meaningless test. You can tell who did not care and just answered anything by how quickly they were done. These tests had no meaning to them and the results told us nothing about what they needed to learn or had learned. They could not speak or write English. We already knew that.

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