Hot Topic: The State of Testing

18 Nov

Hello readers! This past week at work, our director provided us with some facts about testing in the public schools. This is a hot topic because, we need a standard way to measure knowledge and skills, but have we gone too far as to let testing determine the means of education? Are we teaching our kids how to pass a test, or are we teaching them the skills they will need to be successful, tax paying, citizens of our country in order to advance our countries’ economics and overall knowledge base? Or, are we doing a good job of simply testing the skills we are responsible for teaching?

Let’s start with some definitions…
DEFINITIONS:
Standardized test: a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or “standard”, manner.
STAAR Tests: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, are a series of state-mandated standardized tests used in Texas public primary and secondary schools to assess a student’s achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level. It tests curriculum taught from the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, which in turn is taught by public schools. The test is developed by Pearson Education every school year, along with the close supervision of the Texas Education Agency.
(Definitions retrieved from wikipedia)

FACTS:
Schools who receive funds from the state of Texas are required to enforce these tests among students who attend the schools. Any private school, charter school, or homeschooling that does not receive monetary support from Texas is not required to take the STAAR test.

To date, 866 districts representing more than 4.4 million students have adopted the resolution. That accounts for 84 percent of Texas school districts and 91 percent of all Texas public school students.

School districts will have some form of state standardized testing for 40 days of the school year. That does not include days for the PSAT test, NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) or multiple tests for some special education or ESL students.

STAAR more than triples the exit-level test load for high school students. TAKS required 4 exit-level tests, STAAR requires 15.

Schools must test our children in multiple subjects every year starting in 3rd grade and continuing through 11th grade.

English III and Algebra II exams must be passed with a “Level II: Satisfactory Performance” in order for students to graduate with the Recommended Graduation Plan, which is required for admission into any Texas state 4-year college or university. A “Minimum Graduation Plan” does not quality for admission into a Texas 4-year institution.

Texas taxpayers are paying Pearson testing company $470 million for the STAAR test.

(Source: http://www.tamsatx.org)

CONCLUSIONS
For you to decide. We need a standardized method of evaluation. We need accountability that education is preparing our nations youth for success. We need students to graduate high school and attend some form of higher education, whether it be college or trade school. We need family support for each child to spend time with them at home helping them with their school work, teaching them life concepts, and equipping them with pre-testing strategies (good rest, good breakfast, etc.). We need teachers to have the ability to teach knowledge and skills in addition to prepare students for testing, not only one or the other. We need to not loose site of brain development and the importance of physical input, exercise, developmental milestones, cognitive development, social development, and so on. Education comes with testing, but is testing all there is to education?

Be blessed!
Amy

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