OK. We made it through the statewide ELA test last week. It wasn't fun. Chestnut, in particular, was stressed out about it. But we lived through it. And now we're in the math. We're slogging. It's no fun.
There are multiple things that bother me about the tests.
First, they're used to judge teachers.
Second, because they are used to judge teachers and schools and principals, class time that could be used for more substantive nuanced work is used…for test prep. HOURS are used for test prep.
Third, they take over home life, in the form of test prep homework (ugh!) and tension. The anxiety!
Fourth, the idea that how a child performs on a standardized test in any way gives a sense of what they know. I mean, I am lucky in that my kids are OK test-takers. But for kids who aren't? Yikes. A constant, permanent record of you as a student, that barely represents you, and in now way reflects all your teachers might know about you.
Fifth (I know I could go on and on): the money. New York City paid Pearson $5.5 MILLION dollars this year for the testing contract. Do you know how much they cut one of my kid's school budget by this year? $80,000. Good-bye language program for the lower grades. Good-bye art. We said good-bye long ago to art supplies. How much did they cut the large local high school's budget? Oh, by $1 million for each of the past three years. There are 5,000 kids there, but someone decided that the money should instead be spent on…testing. And I don't even want to LOOK at how much we are paying in excess of that, because I bet there's more: materials, prep, scoring. I can't bear to think about it.
Sixth: And for all this money, they are INCOMPETENT. Pearson mis-scored the tests of more than 2,000 preschoolers (ugh, yes, they have to give the kids a gifted and talented test, because how else could you tell if they were gifted?). MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND. How many questions were deemed ineffective last year? Oh, three or four. Oh, and who tests the questions for them? Why, the kids of course! Because they don't need the extra classroom time taken by these "test" tests; golly, what would they do with them? Is there anything other than tests that can happen in a classroom? They will have to check their scoring method and get back to you on that.
Why are they giving money to this? Why? Why? Why? It does not seem to me cost-effective to give $5.5 million to these bozos when our kids need theater trips. And textbooks. And computers. And more instructors. And smaller class sizes.
OK. Sorry. No more of this until next year.
Also? Chestnut's idea is that we should all go to the Department of Education, every kid in the school system, and have a big old tantrum-in. It's tempting.