Less *and* more! At the same time!


A Washington Post article reports that Obama wants less standardized testing:

President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said. …

“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.” …

The president endorsed the occasional administering of standardized tests to determine a “baseline” of student ability. He said his daughters Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, recently took a standardized test that didn’t require advance preparation. Instead, he said, it was just used as a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses. The girls attend the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

(Standardized testing looks and means something completely different for kids at fancy private schools?! No me digas..)

Stephen Krashen, writing at Schools Matter, picks up on the story and points out major inconsistencies between this position and the current goings-on in the Department of Education in the leadup to the next ESEA authorization:

It is widely agreed that No Child Left Behind put too much emphasis on testing, but the new plan goes far beyond NCLB.

NCLB demands tests in reading and math. The Department of Education’s Blueprint encourages testing in all subjects.

NCLB requires one test at the end of the year. The new plan includes “interim tests” to be given several times during the year, and because the Blueprint endorses measuring improvement, we could have tests given in the fall and spring.

In addition, all tests will be closely linked to national standards, which promises to result in more teaching to the test than ever.


Speaking of testing: A group of parents in Puerto Rico are boycotting the April administration of the Pruebas Puertorriqueñas de Aprovechamiento Académico (the island-wide standardized test used to report scores as mandated by NCLB) on the grounds that the tests are not aligned with the grade-level curricula, a complaint which has also been voiced by the teachers union.

One parent complains: “In my children’s school, there aren’t teaching materials, books- there’s no way to make copies. My son has been without an English teacher since August. The Department gives more attention to a test than they do to teaching… Where’s the priority?”

Puerto Rico is the third-largest school district in the U.S. Its students start PPAA testing (fittingly) on Friday, April 1. In ’07-’08, 41% of the island’s schools made AYP.

Priorities, indeed.


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