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

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Test That Ate Our Democracy

Findings included in an editorial from Daytona Beach News-Journal:

A December survey commissioned by the Florida Association of Social Studies Supervisors questioned elementary-school teachers about the effect that the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test has on instruction for nontested social studies subjects, such as history, geography, communities, citizenship and world relationships.

Conducted by Stetson University's Patrick Coggins, the study suggests that, due to FCAT preparation time, fewer hours are spent on non-FCAT subjects. Based on answers from the 1,766 teachers in nine districts (including Volusia County), the findings show:

· About 61 percent of these teachers reported that social studies instruction has declined in their classrooms since the beginning of FCAT testing in 1998. Only about 10 percent said that there was no decline.

· More than 67 percent spent less than 2 hours each week in social studies instruction while more than 32 spent 3-5 hours. In comparison, a minimum of 7.5 hours is spent on reading, 5 hours on math and 4 hours on science.

· About 73 percent of the respondents reported that they affirmatively reduced social studies instruction by 1-2 hours while about 18 percent reported a reduction of 3-4 hours a week. This data suggest that about 92 percent of the respondents agreed that social studies instruction time has been substantially reduced in order to focus on FCAT preparation for the language arts (reading and writing), math and science.

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