Monday, April 09, 2012

Let's Stop Pretending

This week the state of Georgia will be administering standardized tests to public school children. My daughter Nix will have to take a test for reading, one for language arts, two for math, and a social studies test. These tests are how the government determines if any child is being "left behind". This means that the teachers and administration are very stressed right now.
This year, Social Studies is focusing on Asia and Africa, and so the standards on the test reflect that. There is one problem. The test they will be given was written in 2008. Four years have passed in the most politically unstable continent on Earth. Nix's teacher is now faced with having to educate the children on the current governments in Africa, as well as the way things were 4 years ago. Not to worry though, because the test includes a short paragraph before each section of questions and as long as the children read it, they will know how to answer the questions. I might be wrong here, but couldn't anyone with a basic reading level read the paragraph and know how to answer the questions? Doesn't that make it another reading test instead of a social studies test? Now explain to me how this stress on the teacher and the students, for what is basically a redundant test, educates my child.
I really hate these tests. Part of it stems from my own test taking anxieties, but the main reason is because of all the crazy stress the school, as a whole, is under. Walking into that building right now feels like I'm walking into Azkaban. All the color has drained out of everything. The school has emailed and robo-called me to remind me to feed my child and make her go to sleep every night, as opposed to every other day when I starve her and play loud music all night. The teachers are helping by loading her up with homework. I'm curious to see if her Spanish teacher continues to give homework all week because no one cares if her students are meeting those standards.
I know that teachers everywhere will hate this idea, but it seems to me that you'd find out a lot more about how well the schools are doing their job if we tested the teachers instead of the students. I know it would be less stressful.