Saturday, January 31, 2004

Agggh. I have to go early to school next week to take the state tests. Here’s a primer on Leticia’s Opinion on Standardized Testing:

  • It’s stupid

  • It’s misguided

  • It sucks

  • It expects standardized children

  • Beyond that, the public school system in America is in a sorry state, with bureaucrats covering for bureaucrats and the President needing to show that he, in fact, performed a Texas School Miracle (which, by the way, was a disaster.)

    You see, if you focus your entire school system around standardized testing, test scores will go up. Duh. Since most voters equate standardized test scores to quality of schooling, this means that schools have gotten better and students are learning more.

    However, other factors can be at work:

  • Make tests easier. Want your students to test at an eighth grade level? Move eighth grade back to sixth grade! Moving the goalposts can be an easy and efficient way to make your students look smarter. (For instance, the state math test I took yesterday contained only rudimentary algebra and geometry. I am in eleventh grade and am currently learning about quadratic functions, but you’d be hard-pressed to find something that difficult on the state test.)

  • Teach to the test. If your whole school is focused on testing drills and you’ll-have-to-know-this-for-the-state-test kind of teaching (as Bush proposed), test scores will go up. Your students have now learned to regurgitate somewhat useful information. Congratulations.

  • Axe art, music, and sports. Without anything to engage a student who isn’t academically inclined, they’ll drop out, and average test scores go up. Congratulations! You’ll see them downtown soon, smoking pot and begging for change.

  • And finally, a few words on The Achievement Gap. The best way to close the Achievement Gap (so called as if filling in circles achieves anything) is to move the goalposts backwards, evening out test scores between the races. Congratulations! However, it’s time for the government to admit that a poor, black person in a poor, black neighborhood school has shit for chances of going to college right now. Give good teachers incentive to go to the “bad” schools (you might call them “at risk,” “urban” schools...), and maybe the students might learn something beyond the mechanics of a gang war. (Which, I imagine, is probably pretty interesting, but best learned in political science.)

    And while you’re at it, Mr. President, set a good example for the kiddies. Play nice, make friends, and clean up your messes. I believe you’ve been reaching into another kid’s toys, destroying them and selling the remnants to your rich friends; go take a four-year time out.
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