STAR Testing  

curious082385 31F
4230 posts
4/27/2006 3:26 am

Last Read:
5/22/2006 2:15 am

STAR Testing

As most of you know, my parents and I are teachers. They have both been teaching for 20+ years and are absolutely wonderful. (sorry...I love 'em...have to brag a little )
Anyway, this week is STAR Testing. Anyone with kids probably knows what I'm talking about...the state and federal standardized tests. They are designed to assess the students in writing, reading comprehension, mathematics and science. The results are used to tell the schools how well their students are doing on improving each year.

All well and good. The results help us.

Until politics get involved.

In the last few years, politicians have raised the standards higher and higher, expecting students to learn more, learn it earlier, learn it faster. When I went through school, multiplication and division was a fifth grade thing, followed by percents and decimals in sixth and so on. Now, they are asking us to have our fourth graders be proficient in division.

There are exceptions to this, but most fourth graders are simply not ready to grasp the concept of division. Not unless they have a very solid understanding of everything that comes before it. Now here is where you run into a problem. With the standards being pushed higher, the teachers are being pressured to "teach to the test", not to the student's understanding. If some of the kids don't understand? Too bad...have the tests coming up, have to keep pushing them, have to learn everything that will be on there. The kids are getting dragged.

In many kids, this leads to them thinking that they are stupid. They struggle in math, always get the answers wrong even though they are trying their little hearts out...but they just don't get it. They start to doubt their academic ability in other subjects. You see little girls whose hands used to shoot up in the air with every cross their arms and stare at the floor. Little boys start to act out and pretend that they just don't care if they get it right or wrong. They say "what's the point of trying, I'm not gonna get it right anyway". Their academic self-esteem plummets and they stop trying.

And all for what? So that a few politicians can brag about how high their states standards are? So they can think that their schools are turning out smarter kids?
It breaks my heart and turns my stomach. Since when did bragging rights become more important then the emotional and academic well-being of our children?

Yes, I'm ranting...but I held a beautiful, smart little girl in my lap today while she sobbed because she couldn't answer 587 divided by 67 in her head. Could any of you do that problem in your head? I can't. She is nine.

GoddessOfTheDawn 105F
11240 posts
4/27/2006 4:03 am

this have gone from bad to worse ....

but at least she had you to comfort her

curious082385 replies on 4/27/2006 5:11 am:
Yes it has. It does more harm now then good.

rm_Bct2Esi 51M/50F
1375 posts
4/27/2006 4:56 am

We have CSAP here, which is the same thing. I am completely thankful that my youngest no longer has to take these stupid tests. It puts too much pressure on our little people. We, I mean us Parents of Colorado, challenged our Governor to take this test. HE would NOT...hmmmm wonder why?

NO I could NOT do that in my head either, like GOTD said, at least this precious little one had you to comfort her.

Why can't the politicians leave our little ones alone and worry about more important things, like gas prices, bringing our military home, cleaning their own back door before they start in on ours

Hugs, smooches, smiles and luvs sweetie

curious082385 replies on 4/27/2006 5:12 am:
"Why can't the politicians leave our little ones alone and worry about more important things, like gas prices, bringing our military home, cleaning their own back door before they start in on ours"

I don't know. It seems logical to me that they should stick to what they how to fix gas prices and manage wars and economies...and let the teachers do what they do best.

Seriously_Real 48M

4/27/2006 4:57 am

Yes, I'm ranting...but I held a beautiful, smart little girl in my lap today while she sobbed because she couldn't answer 587 divided by 67 in her head. Could any of you do that problem in your head? I can't. She is nine.

How is it that you can make me cry every time you post? Damn you. And I almost got my Man Card back, too....

BTW -- could not agree more with you.


curious082385 replies on 4/27/2006 5:14 am:
Sorry didn't mean to. It broke my heart and made me cry too. The worst part about it was letting her cry for a while then telling her that she had to wipe her eyes and go back to finish her test. Gave her the best words of encouragement that I could, but I still had to send her back to that.

blueguy1051 60M

4/27/2006 5:02 am

It's somewhere around 8. For most uses, that's close enough if you have to do it in your head.

All four of my grandparents were teachers, as was my mom. I find it very strange that the generation that built the atomic bomb, sent people into space, and created the current world economic structure felt the need to screw around with the educational system and made it worse. Now, there's all these theories to fix it.

I have friends who are teachers in Russia, which has a higher literacy rate than the U.S. The teaching philosophies they use are remarkably like those of my grandmother who started teaching in 1908. They teach the basics and then build on them.

Well you know what they say, "Huked on fonix werked fer me!"

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:20 am:
If you are strong and secure on the basics, it is an easy jump to the more complex problems.

sassybelle21 32F
13313 posts
4/27/2006 6:52 am

That's all politicians ever care about - their fame

Like I've said before in one of my silly blog entries, I came from a different school system than the American one. We start to learn how to do simple multiplication and division in Grade 2. Then both the topics will get harder as we move into the next grade. If and only if that is what the American schools are doing too, it's fine. I mean simple multiplication and division based on their grade level of understanding! However, if they are expecting those kids in Grade 3 to know how to do division of big numbers in the head without practising with smaller numbers first, then that's too much.

During my exchange-internship program in Springfield, Missouri I had the chance to intern at the Missouri Mathematics Academy (MMA). One of my tasks was to grade the test papers of Missouri elementary and middle school kids' test papers (for MMA's own evaluation and not a school test but it's based on the state syllabus). From what I saw, the students can't do their mathematics very well. I guess it's all because of the "pushing teaching" instead of the "understanding teaching". Just one thing, without a firm foundation in the subject itself, the kids won't be able to grasp more advanced things for sure.

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:22 am:
"pushing teaching" vs. "understanding teaching"....that's exactly it. Pushing them to go faster doesn't work. It just doesn't. You can't speed up understanding by pushing harder.

dasher121 36M

4/27/2006 7:44 am

Yuk! standardized testing is major BS. I dont really think it accurately shows what kids know. Some are very smart and know a lot of info, but suck at test taking.


curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:24 am:
Good point and one that I didn't hit on. Yeah, we've seen that too...some of the kids will ace the practice tests that we give them, but add the pressure that comes with the real tests and they fall apart. Besides, how can you put a standard on learning? Every kid is different. They shouldn't have to compete against each other.

micahbiguns 51M

4/27/2006 7:45 am

While I agree that politics have messed up the schools, I also think something needs to change our illiteracy rates are increasing. People are graduating high school lacking the ability to make change or do simple math problems. I do not have the answer being as I am not involved i n the educational system, but there is clearly something wrong. I do not believe that what is being done to educate in today’s schools is working very well. Maybe like blueguy1051 said we need to go back to teaching the basics and make sure our children grasp the concepts first. Well enough of my ranting. Have a great day.

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:28 am:
I enjoyed your ranting. That is exactly the problem. Teachers are only responsible for getting their students through that one year, it's not their problem if the kids end up failing in math further on. They are under too much pressure themselves to worry about what happens in two years.

rm_yukonpaul 51M
1120 posts
4/27/2006 10:25 am

Arizona calls it the AIMS test. For the last few years, there has been much public debate concerning this. I must confess, that since I don't have children, I have not paid much attention to this issue. I was raised in the Illinois education system. I do remember taking a test every year where we had to use a #2 pencil to fill in the little circles to answer questions. I don't remember what they were called. Still, 587 divided by 67 seems a bit much for a nine year old.

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:31 am:
Yep, same test. The standards vary a bit from state to state, but all of them are too high and unrealistic for most kids.

pet_humility 48F

4/27/2006 10:29 am

I couldn't agree with you more on the subject.
My kids are really struggling with math. So much so I had to
hire a someone to give them extra help.. which isn't really
helping to much cause they now have low self esteem just like
you mentioned.. grrrrr

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:32 am:
*hugs to you and them*
Try hands-on...go back to the basics.

Choozmi 50M

4/27/2006 10:40 am

I'm a former middle school teacher myself and I saw what you are describing first hand. The state gave us a list of standards that the kids had to absorb over the course of the school year and there was simply not enough time to do it -- particularly when we had to interrupt regular teaching several times in order to administer state-mandated standardized tests. It always felt like we were rushing through the most interesting topics (ones that the kids thought were interesting) because there wasn't enough time and I didn't want any of my kids to be left behind (to coin a phrase).

I know this is going to sound paranoid but I think the real motive behind standardized testing and teacher accountability and all that is because there is a movement underway to dismantle public education completely. It simple: First, politicians exploit any bad news about how "behind" American kids are. They initiate standards and mandate tests and hold teachers accountable. Then, at the same time, they underfund the school systems directly, withhold funding by tying it to things like "abstinence education", or do any of a bunch of other things to keep schools poor and keep teacher pay low (particularly relative to other professions that require advanced degrees).

The results? Low test scores. Angry parents. Understaffed schools. Overworked teachers. Etc.

The solution? Private education! Vouchers! Home schooling! (At least those are the solutions this movement wants voters to demand.)

Once the public education system is dismantled, you can bet that within a few years those same politicians will demand that school vouchers and the like be dismantled as well until there is no public money spent on education at all and children will only learn as much or as little as their parents can afford.

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:33 am:
Yep, you nailed it. And don't even get me started on No Child Left Behind. And I don't think you are paranoid at all. Unfortunately, I think that is exactly what is going on.

seek_u_topia 51M

4/27/2006 4:33 pm

you have totally hit on a hot topic for me. in texas they take the TAKS tests...and they spend the entire year teaching to it. who cares if the kids learn content...and long as they know test taking strategies and other esoteric skills. My oldest (11 y.o. girl) thinks these tests are a joke and she is bored stiff in school. My next one (9 y.o. son) has every learning disability in the book, and instead of teaching reading skills and concepts, they are trying to teach him to memorize math facts and site words to compensate entirely for his issues.

our legistlations is totally fucked up on this one. teachers in our school district are so afraid to speak out they cower and say's really a shame...

i am glad there are compasionate teachers out there like you. wish my 9 year old was in your class. soon he'll be in private school.

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:36 am:
Yes, that is exactly what we see. Most of the kids who come to our school are the ones who, like your children, are at the far ends of the spectrum. Either they are bored because they aren't being allowed to explore what is really interesting to them. Or they are struggling and being dragged through concepts that don't make sense. Good choice to move your son. It's wonderful to see parents who care and do something to fix the problem.

carebearluv2 42F

4/27/2006 8:21 pm

We have T-CAP here, which is the same thing as STAR testing. The school centers everything around this testing and no other work is done during that week. There is a ton of pressure placed on the kids to succeed in the testing and I see the stress of it on my son every year.

I, like yourself, can't believe the level of curriculum these children are expected to learn, often in inappropriate grade levels. Last year, my son was doing Algebra in 4th grade...4th grade!!! I am not very strong in Math, so I wasn't even able to help my 4th grader!

This year he is doing things in Math like dividing fractions, geometry, etc. I am waiting for the day he brings home calculus (that is probably next year!). All of this is causing my honor student (5 years running) to get a 74 in Math this semester. When I asked the teacher for help in bringing up the grade, I was told he could bring it up in school and no extra help was given! Public schools are really lacking in their ability to not only relate the proper curriculum to the proper grade level, but also in their support of those students that don't meet their criteria.

These same politicians can't spend our money wisely and eliminate a deficit...they probably scored below a 74 in Math!

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:37 am:
"These same politicians can't spend our money wisely and eliminate a deficit...they probably scored below a 74 in Math!"

You're probably right!

StillSmokin2oo6 44M/43F

4/27/2006 8:59 pm

Politicians definitely need to worry about fixin the gas prices!!

Thank God my kids are smarter than I was.The kids are being pushed to learn too much,way too fast,until half of them don't even wanna try.My youngest kid is in 5th grade and on the honor roll,,but he brings home a ton of homework every night and most of it he doesn't understand at first,because his teacher hasn't been givin enough time to teach,and I end up spending half of my nights explaining something that hasn't even been gone over in class,,and the sad thing is,his teacher is a pretty good one...What happens to all those kids that get stuck with shitty teachers or parents that don't help??

The teachers aren't being paid enough,so some don't care about teaching and those that do,aren't given enough time to do so,because of the ever growing push to teach more,to teach faster,,not to mention the fact that the classes are so large,that each child isn't given the individual attention that he or she may need!!I could go on for hours on this one!!!

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:38 am:
I was the same way as your son...hours of homework every night. Math was very hard for me. I was always at grade level, but that was because my parents would give me an hour or two of extra insruction every night on what I had covered in class that day.

Nightguy_1961 55M
4866 posts
4/27/2006 10:04 pm

I am helping a young lady with some history schoolwork here in real time. The questions she had shocked me...they were questions that I learned when I was in 6th grade!!!! This is an 11th grade history course...and the young lady is taking it as a remedial (she's 19)

I'm not knocking her...I just wonder wtf is being taught in schools now?


curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:39 am:
Sad, isn't it?

toothysmile 50M
16515 posts
4/28/2006 12:46 am

Nothing is more important than the education of our children.
One would hope that this subject would be treated RESPONSIBLY by all.

I agree with you wholeheartedly.
However, politicians are elected by the people. I believe that they are a reflection of their constituents. Somebody put them there and probably knowing what they wanted to do too.

If you don't agree with what they do, don't vote for them. If then you find yourself in the minority of the voters (just like I very often do), accept it as the will of the majority and do your best.

Great post once more. Thanks!

curious082385 replies on 4/28/2006 2:40 am:
This is true. But it is the companies that finance those politicians and the political pressure placed on them that lead to some of these decisions on the standards.

Fox4aKnight1 43F

5/1/2006 3:52 am

Curious I quit school for many reasons. Mostly because of the peer problems I had. Add to that my problems witj math and well *sigh* Plus I was very good but didn't do my homework. But back then I could retain stuff, and aced my tests ...all of them. I likely [till I got to 7th grade slept through most classes and still aced the tests. But then I would read all the books as soon as I got them *snicker* ....I did mention I am a book worm didn't I? LOL

curious082385 replies on 5/1/2006 7:25 am:
Whoohoo! A fellow bookworm!

Peche85 31F

5/3/2006 3:55 am

I don't know if this could happen in America, but here in New Zealand they recently changed the secondary school system (I was the last year of the old way, thank god!) and they have been having loads of problems with it so some schools decided not to do the new NCEA testing and now do some sort of Cambridge University exams instead.

Maybe if all the teachers and principals felt the same way as you they could find a different way of testing? Or does every school HAVE to do it that way?

curious082385 replies on 5/3/2006 6:09 am:
Every school has to do it the same way. They are national standards and if you don't meet them, the government either takes over or shuts down your school under the No Child Left Behind Act. Don't even get me started on that of the worst things to ever happen to public education in my opinion.

rm_1rabbit4 32M
11 posts
5/7/2006 5:58 am

yeah ive got a 180 iq like that means any thing and i couldnt get past the 8 part but i cant focuse long enough to get it my brain keeps jumping around and inagining things like im autistic or something nothing bad im not syco i dont argee with the system so i wont participate i left high scool just before graduating seneior year i will teach my self and search out what i want to know i like constant inprovment but i have to go back to shool and get the brains to work some kind of trade i like manual labor and hard work but dont want to do that crap for ever and it dosnt pay enough i have gotten use to having money

concupiscentKid 40M

5/19/2006 2:37 pm

Has anyone ever read anything written by Rod Paige, Bush's last education czar?
He can't write. We have a national education leader who can't write!
I also wonder about attempts to dismantle education by this administration. My question is, who has a vested interest in an
educated population? For instance, given what this administration does, do they really want the voting population to know anything about history?
A lot of money gets dumped into 'education', but it just becomes welfare for developers.

curious082385 replies on 5/22/2006 2:18 am:
"For instance, given what this administration does, do they really want the voting population to know anything about history?"

Good point! You know, there was a time when someone saying that the government was trying to dismantle education would have sounded like a crazy conspiracy theory. It is sad that it doesn't sound so crazy anymore.

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