"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Get the Zip-locks Ready--It's Test Time in Wisconsin

A chill in the air, frost on the pumpkin, children puking on their answer sheets--it can only mean one thing. It's test time again.

Here is the first in a 2-part report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on the current level of testing hysteria there.

Paula Fortina says she is really nervous.
In her fifth-grade class at the Academy of Accelerated Learning, a public school on Milwaukee's southwest side, she and the other students have been reading passages and then answering questions in the format used in Wisconsin's standardized tests. They spend a half hour a day doing "Mountain Math," a program aimed at reviewing skills kids have already been taught.

Paulina says she studies at home and she's going to make sure this week that she gets extra sleep and eats well.Across the state and nation, it's testing time for hundreds of thousands of students in a way never seen before.

And further down in the piece, we see that no one who is still thinking pretends any longer that the goals of 100% proficiency in math and reading are even possible, with the latest research projecting an 84% failure rate in Wisconsin from 2011 to 2014 (click here for the latest study on the likelihood of meeting AYP in Wisconsin and states in that region). Nonetheless,

"It's a big motivator not to get your name on that list," said state assistant superintendent Planner. Lynette Russell, director of educational accountability for the state, added, "They desperately do not want to be labeled."

Few Wisconsin schools have been labeled so far, but the list is likely to grow. The bar that schools and districts need to clear when it comes to the percentage of students scoring proficient or better rises over the next few years, hitting 100% in 2014, according to current law. Many educators think that is a practical impossibility.

What we must know by now is that No Child Left Behind is nothing more than another scam by people who govern by scamming. Labeling public schools as failures as a way to achieve 100% proficiency or to "end the achievement gap" is as likely as some of the other professed neocon goals, such as "bringing democracy to Iraq" or "saving social security." As we know in the case of Iraq, the stated goal of democracy has nothing to do with the real goal of securing political stability for Middle Eastern dictators, thus guaranteeing another 50 year supply of oil; and in the social security instance, the stated goal of rescuing retirement funds is exactly the opposite of the real intent to prop up the stock market by giving retirement money to the respectable crooks on Wall Street to gamble with as they see fit.

We now know that No Child Left Behind is a cynical ruse that uses a false hope for children's education to, in fact, crush public schools rather than improve them. In the meantime, testing companies ($6.6 million this year for McGraw-Hill in WI) and education industry cronies are getting rich on the backs of children now herded daily into test prep factories where the thrill of learning has been turned into a joyless job, for which the payoff, if it ever comes, will be in more of the same as adults.

Jim Horn

1 comment:

  1. Well said. Twenty years ago it was the same story with the public schools shouldering the burden for everything from immorality to the strong Japanese economy. NCLB is the latest scheme cooked up by the power brokers interested in dismantling public education.