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

Monday, June 29, 2009

$35 Million for Corporate Lobbyists is Safe

As goes Virginia - so goes the nation. Where are the teachers' unions? Where are the parents?

Third graders in Virginia will be getting a new standardized history test. Despite a recommendation from the State Superintendent of Instruction (what does she know about educating third graders?) to scrap the test and public opinion against the tests, Board members decided to spend more money on tests.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Board members yesterday gave the state education department the go-ahead to begin developing a new third-grade history and social-science assessment and to administer the current test until the new one is ready. They also approved weaving content from other SOL subject areas into the third-grade reading test.

The board followed the recommendation of State Superintendent of Instruction Patricia I. Wright. She originally proposed eliminating the third-grade history exam, which covers material in kindergarten to third grade, but withdrew the proposal after bipartisan outcry.

Wright said doing away with the test would save about $380,000 annually and eliminate a test that is not federally mandated.

It cost the state about $35 million to develop, administer, score and report the SOL and alternative tests for the 2007-2008 school year, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Julie Grimes. That does not include state education department personnel costs or any costs incurred by the local school systems.

Here's the reason the Washington Post cited for the Board's decision to keep the tests for third graders in history and social sciences despite the huge cost:

The decision Thursday came about a week after state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright withdrew a controversial proposal to scrap the exams. Wright reversed her position after heated criticism from history advocates and state legislators who said cutting the tests would allow elementary schools to devalue history and social-studies education
Who are these history advocates? Oh, yes, they probably work for Kaplan or McGraw Hill - you know, the ones who write the tests. Wouldn't want to jeopardize the learning of history and social studies for third graders so let's test it so it looks like and important subject. In fact, let's test every student every year in history and social studies -- why not start in first grade and go all the way to 12th grade? Just think how $ valuable $$$ that would be.

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