Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On High Stakes Testing The 20% Of Children With Mental Illness....

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, twenty percent of children (actually 21%) have a mental illness of one sort or another. 20% is a big number! Illnesses like post traumatic stress syndrome, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia are serious conditions that cause functional impairments and cognitive deficits.

Question: Is it morally acceptable to push children through curricula and assessments centered around data driven instruction and high stakes standardized tests?

I sat through a discussion yesterday at the Indianapolis Marion County public library on standardized testing.

Derek Redelman, one of the discussion participants and a pusher of high stakes standardized testing for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce had nothing to say on this issue.

To her credit Dr. Dena Cushenberry Superintendent of Warren Twp. Schools, mentioned we have to be "concerned"and "mindful" but insisted that students would make their parents happy with good test scores.

I had a discussion with Dr. Cushenberry later in the lobby about emergent curriculum as a way of giving children a voice in non-consensual learning experiences that now amount to test prep and she had no idea what I was talking about.

More on this subject soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On Warping of Curricula and Immorality of Testing

Here is the trailer to "Standardized."

A dynamic discussion with members of Parent Power, Black and Latino Policy Institute and Education Community Action Team on high stakes standardized testing.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"I'll just be the girl who got a three, or the girl who got a one, or the girl who threw up because she was so nervous."

More evidence on negative affects to physiological and psycho-emotional development caused by standardized high stakes testing. In their own words, elementary students Claire and Liam address the Orange County School Board:

"We all have to do the same thing at the same time. The kids all learn like that because of tests." "I wanted you to see that I'm a 3rd grader and me and other kids who are going to take the scary tests for the first time in the Spring, and I won't be Claire to them, I'll just be the girl who got a three, or the girl who got a one, or the girl who threw up because she was so nervous. You guys always teach us about standing up to others. Now it's time for you to stand up to the bullies who are using these tests in the wrong way. Can't you do something?"

Liam addresses his school board on the standard error of measurement: "When I took the 3rd grade FCAT, I was a wreck. The pressure on our teacher and our school's success riding on our backs was crazy. Everybody pressuring us to be great. If we weren't great, everybody knew, we would have to repeat classes and the whole 3rd grade. Ugh! I didn't do well. My parents tried to make me feel better by telling me that tests are what happens when you don't get enough time to get to know somebody. But that didn't make any sense because 'my teacher' already knew me real well." "Why couldn't people just ask her about my poems, my website, my science fair project, my speeches, my videos, the portfolio? Why isn't that my score? I don't understand why you guys even care about a number from a test on one day when my stomach felt like I ate acid." "Right now, everyone is just their FCAT scores."

 Children are not homogeneously constructed. Why do we educate them so?
Claire and Liam bring up some pretty important issues here: Coercion of children. Toxic stress inducing experiences. Forced participation into curricula that ignore children's interests, strengths and unique cognitive capacities based on a pedagogy of radical behaviorism.

The test pushers don't care if children suffer anxiety or toxic stress before, during or after the tests. The test pushers don't care if children's unique cognitive gifts are ignored by their teacher. Test pushers don't care if learning is reduced to banal test training experiences. Make no mistake, the tests are designed to confuse and trick children. Educators are forced to train children to answer ambiguously worded selected response standardized test questions.

Claire who is unaccustomed to bullying asks the question to the Orange County School Board, "Can you do something?"