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

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Fifth R of Test Prep: REFUSE the Test

In Kentucky as elsewhere, the testing hysteria is in full swing, and schools have brought in some old-fashioned fun. But don't worry, Secretary Spellings--this fun is to help students prepare for the next round of CATS. Remember, boys and girls--no fun for just for the fun of it!

The only thing that is going to bring this madness to a screeching halt is for parents and teachers and grandparents to adopt the fifth "R" of testing. So after getting rested, receptive, relaxed, and ready, let's do statewide and nationwide REFUSE. All of the Gates money and all of the Broad money cannot stop the crashing sound of this house of cards if parents simply keep their children home on test days.

Otherwise, enroll your child today in the latest craze, Yoga as Test Prep. Here's a testimonial from Louisville 8 year old, Jazzman Jefferson: "Whenever I get a little stressed and feel that I don't know the answer, I just stop and do some of the yoga skills, and it helps me feel relaxed," Jazzman said. "I think it will help me stay focused during testing."

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Dressed in a black trench coat, sunglasses and a plaid snap-brim hat, 11-year-old Jerry Corder sat on the floor of his classroom, trying to solve the next big crime.

Only instead of cracking the case, Jerry and about 60 of his fifth-grade classmates at John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School were tackling multiple-choice and open-ended practice questions similar to those they will encounter on state tests, which will begin today for more than 60,000 students in Jefferson County and 400,000 more across Kentucky.

The "mission" began about two weeks ago, as teachers Francine Chandler and Connie Mattingly searched for a way to get their students excited about Kentucky's annual tests, which are part of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System.

"I was looking for a fun way to get them comfortable with taking the test so that they don't freeze up," Chandler said. "The ultimate goal is for them to realize that they know much more than they think they know."

Dozens of Jefferson County schools have spent the past few weeks engaging in innovative activities to get children excited and ready for what many educators and parents agree is the most stressful time of the year.

Games, pep rallies, even yoga -- they're all being employed to get students ready for the following two weeks, when students in third through eighth grade and 10th and 11th grade will be tested in as many as five subjects -- from reading and writing to math and social studies.

At stake is their school's academic reputation, as well as more serious repercussions, such as allowing students to transfer to better-performing schools.

The tests, each 50 to 70 minutes long, will also be used to judge schools' performance on reading and math standards that are mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Schools that don't meet those standards several years in a row can be taken over by the district or state and reorganized -- which is what's happening with Iroquois Middle School and Southern Leadership Academy in Jefferson County.

Add to that pressure the mounting time taken for test preparation and testing itself, and the result is a growing number of educators who complain that testing has gone too far.

"When you think about it, a fifth-grader over the next two weeks will go through 12 to 15 hours of testing. I don't even think I had that much testing when I was getting my doctoral degree," said Bob Rodosky, director of research, planning and assessment with Jefferson County Public Schools. . . .

Let's spell it together: R-E-F-U-S-E!

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