What Would Change?

From the N&O:

In a draft report, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Testing and Accountability said, “For the way [state] tests are currently structured and used, there is too much time spent on testing.”

“We’re testing more, but we’re not seeing the results,” said Sam Houston, chairman of the commission “We’re not seeing graduation rates increasing. We’re not seeing remediation rates decreasing. Somewhere along the way, testing isn’t aligning with excellence.”

Among the recommendations, the commission wants to eliminate the fourth-, seventh- and 10th-grade writing tests and the eighth-grade computer skills tests. Houston said writing and computer skills are still important, but are subjects that can be left up to each school district to handle.

The commission also wants to slash in half the number of end-of-course exams used to measure how high schools are doing in the state testing program. They no longer want to count physics, physical science, chemistry, algebra II and geometry — five exams which are now optional for high school students.

For a long time, educators have been clamoring about the instructional shackles imposed by high stakes testing in an era of hyper-accountability. Were the Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations accepted and testing decelerated, what would change in typical classrooms?

I’m only asking.

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5 Responses to What Would Change?

  1. Ms. D says:

    The education of a child involves so many dynamics that I am not going to bother getting into that discussion. I want to share why I would like the EOC’s to remain. I teach science at West Carteret High School, and since ’99 have taught most science subjects (EOC and non-EOC). Having a class that ends with an EOC exam gives me a goal to push for. It keeps me on track and in that sense, makes me a better teacher. So, I don’t support getting rid of these tests, I just think they need major revisions. My main problem with state science EOC’s is the amount of information students need to learn for the test. In my experience over the past 8 years, I have found that most teachers don’t cover all the material demanded by the state. There just isn’t enough time. Even college gives two semesters for that much content. Unfortunately, what seems to have happened is that teachers give up beneficial activities they feel will “take too long.” I would like to see the test content reduced which would provide time for a quality, not quantity, approach.

    Just one more thing to share: Amy’s staff development dream.

    A carasmatic instructor comes to one of our fine chemistry classrooms. He has our book under one arm, and a packet for every chapter under the other. These packets are filled with inquiry-based activities (the future of ed., I hope), simple-to-follow labs, and review materials that go with every chapter and NCSCOS goal. He spends the week going over the labs and activities that demonstrate each concept. There is a list of chemicals for each lab to make ordering easy and efficient. There are detailed warnings on the dangers of those chemicals, what to do if an accident happens, and how to dispose of them. Finally, he ends the session with web-based activities that go along with each concept as well. Then I woke up and started putting it all together myself for the next two years…….hope I’m still teaching the same thing!

  2. I think soooo much would change. We could see more authentic learning experiences, inquiry based learning, and overall increase in student interest. I think that currently the vast amount of testing fosters teaching to the test. I think that accountability would be measured much more accurately by utilizing an approach close to what you are doing with the teacher peer observations with the newer teachers.

    I love how Sam Houston put it…
    “We’re testing more, but we’re not seeing the results. We’re not seeing graduation rates increasing. We’re not seeing remediation rates decreasing. Somewhere along the way, testing isn’t aligning with excellence.”

  3. Nothing. Education isn’t driven by the professionals in the field doing research. It’s driven by the opinions of the parents and the “grand plans” of people that haven’t spent a day in the classroom. If medicine were conducted in such a fashion, we’d still be exorcising people to cure the flu.

  4. Aren’t they brilliant? For a LOT LESS money, I’ll bet we could have told them the same thing!

  5. I think more time for creativity, field trips, living history museums, etc…the curriculum has been pared down to get through goals that are tested……..so we have to cut most of the fun stuff that sparks student attention out of instruction……

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