Problems With Testing

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Testing of school kids is a common topic and rightfully so. But, there are complications with testing  and especially the testing of children. So many differential factors come into play when a state or local schools decide to test for progress. Laudable goal but so far from the real reality that we all should question why and for what reasons. 

Let's begin with a known. That is testing over the many years in Tennessee has indicated a significant percentage of children that fail reading and our leadership sees the failing numbers year after year and you know what they commonly do?  Well, neighbor, they convene a blue ribbon panel. They largely conclude what we already know. Kids are failing reading.  Oh, some member of the group that carries a lot of weight suggests different texts or this one. Blame the teachers. Scores next year? Same or teeny improvement. 

The solutions are really fundamental. Children, all children, learn at different rates. The children in one reading group may catch on quickly and the teacher, if allowed, could move those children to a different, perhaps more independent reading program. The mystery group of the slower learners are not given the same approach or creativity to solving their issues. Time is not on the side of the slower learner. It is instead a speed walk through the academic year leaving this child, a good number in Chattanooga schools, behind where they stay behind and fall, not gain educationally. 

The new reading program, highly touted and all the shiny faces smiling into the cameras delight in sharing the new, but hide when we can't see the shiny faces.  They have no answers but for one. Spend more money. Let's look, instead, reading not as a speed walk, but a fundamental right for every child. Let's look, instead, as the individual learner a person of great value, precious if you will that we, all of us owe a successful experience in the public schools. 

We pay school administrations lots of money to solve problems for the child. The child's teacher, not paid very much money, given the responsibility of teaching all, then give no real creative freedom to solve the problem.  Put 3-5 2nd grade teachers together with a challenge. Give them the freedom of curriculum design and application; give them freedom to contact and develop relationship with parent and family and finally give them freedom to advance reading instruction to the place it needs to be. First.

Robert Brooks


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