Saturday, May 15, 2010

Standardized Testing…..does it really tell us how smart our kids are?

So I got a phone call from my daughter’s principle yesterday, she wanted to make me aware that there was a problem with my daughter’s math CRCT test.

Let me back up and give a bit more detail to the point of the phone call.

My daughter is in 5th grade, she took the CRCT back in April, and this is a crucial year for her regarding the CRCT. Every elementary school student has to take the CRCT, but there are two crucial grades. These grades must pass the CRCT in order to move up to the next grade. These are the 3rd and 5th grades. After elementary school, 8th grade students also have to pass this test in order to enter high school.

Now, back to the phone call….there is a problem with my daughter’s math CRCT test.

I was up doing laundry, the phone rang and Becca answered. All I could hear her say was, “my mom is home”. She brought me the phone; her principle identified herself and began telling me about “our problem”.

She told me that Becca received and “invalid” on her math CRCT test.

“Invalid, what does that mean?” I asked.

Her response: “We don’t really know”.

We don’t know? How is it that we don’t know? She went on to explain to me that Becca and only one other student in the school received this mark. She stated that they were working with the local school board to find out what this mark meant and how it was going to be handled. This is being taken all the way up to the State Board of Education to see how this was going to be dealt with.

Okay a little bit more background information for those of you who either don’t live in Georgia or don’t watch the news. The state is investigating several counties in the state for cheating on the CRCT for 2009. The state has gotten very strict on the procedures for the CRCT.

So, we or I should say they have come up with a plan. Plan A: The state pulls the two score sheets and reviews them for possible stray pencil marks, then rescans them to see if the students passed or Plan B: These two students have to retake the math section of the CRCT. Now, Plan A seems to be the only fair solution for these children.

Of course, we will do whatever it is that the state decides and we will do our best and just deal with it. However, the next part of this story is the part that just about broke my heart. Do I or do I not tell Becca……the principle left that decision up to me. Great!

I finished my phone conversation, came back downstairs, sat down and tried to decide what to do.

The answer was made easy for me. Becca was waiting to hear what her principle had to say.

I asked Becca is she really wanted to know what her principle and I talked about. She stated that she already knew. She failed the CRCT. I asked her why she thought that and she told me that the general consensus (my word not hers) was that if you received a phone call from the school, you failed and if there was not a phone call, then you passed.

At that point I had to explain the whole situation to her. I told her about the “invalid” mark, which she did not understand what invalid was, I tried to tell her that there was a malfunction with the scoring machine, she didn’t understand that either. It was difficult for me to explain it in terms she would understand and get her past the point where she thought she had failed.

I had to even give her the history of what was going on in the state with the suspected cheating that was happening with the CRCT. She began to understand and she really got her first lesson on how a few “bad” people could ruin it for everyone.

I know that I am taking this a bit personally and we tend not to worry about this stuff whether we agree or not with standardized testing until it hits home and it has hit home. However, I have a sweet, smart and now disillusioned 11 year old that is struggling with her own self esteem. We are now three weeks from school being out and plans are being made for the 5th grade graduation, children entering into middle school and my daughter isn’t sure she is a part of the plan. If she has to retake the math section of the CRCT, we will be half way to the next school year before she finds out if she can go to 6th grade or she has to repeat the 5th grade.

My daughter’s grades in school are pretty good. She is not at the top of her class, but she is not at the bottom either. Her grades range from 75 to 95 percent in all her subjects.

How can we tell a child that even though they are passing all of their classes/subjects that they cannot promote to the next grade because they did not do well on a standardized test? Do standardized tests really tell us what a child knows or does not know?

When I was in school at the beginning of time, all we had was the IOWA standardized test and your success or failure in school was not the end all be all of that test. The results of that test were used to gauge was the areas of weakness were in the school system. The results were used to develop plans on how best to teach subjects in school.

Actually until we came to Georgia, I had never heard of the CRCT and I had never heard of any test being the deciding factor on whether you past a class or grade or not. Also, in the state of Georgia, there is a high school graduation test. If a high school student does not pass this test, they only get a certificate of completion instead of a diploma. At that point their only options are…to keep taking the test until they pass or they have to get their GED.

Have we taught our kids that there is no reason for them to apply themselves in school because it all comes down to a test? Is that why we have fallen behind in the world with regards to our children’s education? Or is it really because we have breed laziness and stupidity into our children? (that is probably a topic for another post)

I would love to hear any thoughts you may have.

1 comment:

  1. I was laid off last March after working for 14 years with the company. I have 3 kids and being home with them for the last 14 months made me realize that my kids need me more than the paychecks I bring home from working. My kids' grades improved ALOT with me helping with their homework and being active in their schools activities. Reading this post is like revisiting my own thoughts a while back. I've decided not go back to work for now because in weighing everything, family is more important and my kids need a mom to be at home when they're home from school.