Friday, March 08, 2013

The problem with mandated school testing

The No Rugrat Left Behind bill has many faults, not the least of which is the fact that the federal government is interfering way too much in what should be local schools.  But what has become the second biggest problem with the bill is that teachers teach to the test standards, in order to help their students get a good score, thus ensuring a good score for the teacher and school.

Today, I got an email from my son's school that takes the problem to the extreme-asking parents to help motivate students to do well on test day.  Emphasis in bold is original, highlighting is mine-

Dear Maple House Parents,

As the weather changes from winter winds to spring sunshine it brings with it two new seasons…Road Construction and School Testing!  This April your child will be participating in the MCA III Reading and Math tests.  Reading tests will take place on Tuesday, April 16th through Friday, April 19th.  Math tests will take place the following Wednesday, April 24th, and Thursday, April 25th.  These are statewide tests that are an important part of measuring the growth your child has made during this past year. 

As teachers it is important that the information that we are able to gain be an honest reflection of your child’s true academic abilities.  This information is used in planning, as well as placement in classes for following years.  Because of this, it is important that your child understands the importance of taking this very seriously and doing the very best job they can.

There are many things you can do at home to help your child be prepared to do their absolute best on the test!  A good night’s sleep is important to ensure your child is awake and alert, making them able to better focus on the task.  Food is fuel for the brain, so making sure your child eats well in the days leading up to the test, as well as on the day of the test is necessary.  A small breakfast will be available for each student on testing days.  Your child will also be allowed to have a water bottle at their seats during this time to ensure proper hydration. 

More importantly is that your child feels that they CAN be successful!  That is where you come in.  We are asking each parent to play a very important role that day.  Because you won’t be able to be there to cheer them on in the classroom, we are asking that you take some time and write them a letter or note that can be placed on their desk the morning of their test, encouraging them to try their very hardest and ensuring them that they can do it!  It is our hopes that through this form of communication, they are able to go into the test with a positive outlook and know that they have your support and that you care about their success at school.

These letters are meant to be a surprise for students, and will be accompanied by a small MCA “care package.”  Because of the “surprise” factor, we ask that you send these letters to school with your child in a sealed envelope marked with your child’s name, or even easier, attach them to an email and we will print them deliver it to your child on the morning of April 12th.  We would ask that these be sent either with your child or via email no later than Friday, April 12th, so we can be sure that each child has something to open that morning.    

We appreciate your continued support!  We know this will take some time on your behalf, but we feel this would be a great opportunity for you to let your child know how much you love and support them.  Please feel free to contact any of the Aspen House teachers if you have any questions.  Thank you!
These care packages for your child are available for only $1 each, and include #2 pencils, a highlighter, snacks and a waterbottle.

Stuff like this explains the boom in home schooling.

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