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

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Parents Fighting the Testing Frenzy

This is exactly what it will take to tamp down the current abusive orgy of tabulation in schools:

Some Richmond public school parents say frequent testing is interrupting their children's education.

"I am concerned about the onslaught of assessments in Richmond Public Schools," said Fox Elementary School parent Mary Boyes, adding that she was particularly bothered by the testing of students from kindergarten through second grade. "I question the frequency and types of assessments our children are being given."

Speaking at a School Board meeting Tuesday night, more than two dozen parents called for reduced testing. In addition to annual state tests, Richmond students take a number of other tests throughout the year that aren't required by the state.

"My wife and I were naive," said Evan Davis, also a Fox parent. He said he knew his daughter would take Standards of Learning tests when she reached third grade. "We didn't know that as a 5-year-old she would also encounter nine-week and biweekly tests."

Because the students are at all different reading levels, the teacher has to test them one at a time, which causes the testing to drag on for days, Davis said.

"Quite honestly, there wasn't a whole lot of learning going on during that period," Davis said.

Wendy Martin has two children in Richmond schools.

She said she is not against assessment but noted that her first-grader's class includes students who are reading at all different levels and must constantly stop their lessons for testing every other week and every nine weeks.

"Every two weeks, these kids are getting a language-arts assessment determining where they are," Martin said. "It's wasting the time of the kids who are at the sixth-grade level. It's wasting the time of the kids who are still learning their ABCs."

She and other parents said that some of the purchased tests are poorly designed and would be better if Richmond teachers wrote them. Martin also noted that she considered moving from the city, in part because of the emphasis on testing, and knows of other families who feel the same way.

"You need to know, where the rubber meets the road, this is having an impact," she said.

Richmond Education Association President Wade Ellegood said the union surveyed its members about testing and that it plans to present the results to the School Board's curriculum committee Jan. 29.

"The board is listening to this concern," said School Board Chairman George P. Braxton II.

Also Tuesday night, the coordinator of school health services, Charlene Rodgers, said that seven sixth-graders have yet to receive their mandatory vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis and have been suspended from school.

State law required all public school sixth-graders to have the immunization by early December or be kept out of school. Irving C. Jones Jr., executive director of secondary education, said that the school district has been unable to locate the parents of three of the remaining seven students. The parents of the other students will be taken to court, he said.

Contact staff writer Lindsay Kastner at lkastner@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6058.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this.

    A group of parents in Richmond, VA organized in December in order to stop this rampant and ill-advised onslaught of assessments. Already, because of parental pressure combined with the concerns of the local education association, the school system is proposing changes for next year--starting with the elimination of bubble/standardized tests in grades k-1.

    I wanted to alert you and your readers to our efforts and also to direct you to our website (assessmentreform.org). School Boards respond to parental pressure. In our case, quite quickly. If people in other areas wish to contact me about our efforts, they may email me at maryboyes@popularink.com.