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Wednesday, 05 September 2007 23:24

Does Standardized Testing Limit what Children are Taught?

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With all the discussion over API’s and AYP’s, STAR scores and teacher accountability a new study out finds that Americans, in general, think the nations kids are sacrificing to make gains on standardized tests. A poll released by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Poll, the 39th Annual Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, says that among this year's major findings are that 52 percent of Americans believe that the Federal No Child Left Behind is limiting what children are taught. The sacrifice, according to Americans polled, is at the expense of subjects such as art, science, health and social studies. A significant majority of those surveyed also believe that more must be done to prepare students to compete in a global economy.  National Education Association President Reg Weaver says "Narrowing the curriculum and teaching to the test are only two of the unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind, and educators were the first to sound the alarm on this trend," Weaver continues saying "The law's single-minded focus on test preparation is robbing students of the opportunity to think critically and solve problems.” Weaver says “We need to prepare them for the real world, for success in the new industries of tomorrow like alternative energy, medical research and technology” says Weaver.

“We need to prepare them for the real world, for success in the new industries of tomorrow like alternative energy, medical research and technology” says Weaver. Amador County Assistant Superintendent In Charge of Curriculum, Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti agrees with Weaver. She says “The current system is stealing creativity and hands-on learning out of the classroom because it does not take into account the whole education of children.” Pinotti says that “A system, by the way, that tests all students and includes each of our student’s scores into the results…unlike other countries who only test the gifted and high achieving and then compare them to the United States as some badge of honor.” Pinotti says that worldwide comparisons are not accurate for these reasons.

She says “Test all your children and then we’ll talk comparisons…but that is another argument.” As far as the Federal Benchmarks, Pinotti says there is a deeper problem. The deeper problem with NCLB, says Pinotti, is the emphasis on a one size fits all, 65 question, multiple-choice test, where critical thinking and abstract thought are often necessarily omitted because the stakes are so high.  Without teaching students how to think and how to explore, by quashing their curiosity and emphasizing on “power” standards – how indeed is the United States ever to complete in the global economy?  How are we going to produce inventors and doctors and creative geniuses and rocket scientists out of our students if all they can do is take multiple-choice exams asks Pinotti?  

Politicians and the media are versed in the tip of this catastrophic tornado, the test scores and quantified results, but it seems that neither group has analyzed the real data and the fact that comparing the test results of “like grade levels of students” who are being tested at vastly different levels says Pinotti. She asks the same question being asked by educators through out the country, what will the long term results of the accountability systems? Pinotti asks if by not teaching students to think are we putting future generations at a disadvantaged as they venture out to compete in our ever shrinking world? The majority of Americans, according to the this newly released poll agree with Pinotti

Read 1611 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 August 2009 01:55