Sunday, March 13, 2011

MAC Week 2 - Comment 1

Screen capture of Mark Dohn's blog post, "I Can't Drink the Punch."

Mark Dohn's original post:
It started today: Test Prep.
   On Monday, I received this monstrous, convoluted table of where I need to be and who’s class I need to cover while teachers work with groups of students. So today, at the appropriate time, I arrived at the gymnasium with 200 eighth graders. They were ushered in and sat down on the hardwood floor.
   For the next thirty minutes they were verbally assaulted by the chair of our Science Department about astronomy. They were told how he helped to write the test, and that they would do better if they listened to his endless list of astronomy facts. We don’t teach to the test...we just cram for it!
   A year ago I would have been positive. A team player telling the students how this was a necessary evil in education today. Twelve months later and one month from finishing my degree here at Full Sail, and I cannot stomach it any more.
I cannot live with it. I cannot condone it. Standardized testing is simply wrong. Judging kids according to their performance with a Number 2 pencil is a disservice, and it needs to end.

My comment to Mark:

Oh, Mark, you're singin' my song. Tomorrow, my sophomore students will begin taking the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) with the reading portion, and the other four core subject will follow one a day for the rest of the week.
I finished my previous unit on March 4th, so this past week we took some time to make-up tests and quizzes from that unit and then had a few days where I talked to them about the test.  I don't cram, I try to spread everything out over the first three quarters so that it's not a rush or a frenzy in the few weeks before the test, but I'm tired of even focusing on it. 
In the past three years, the kids are always nervous because of how little I talk about it, but I tell them at the beginning of the year that if they pay attention in class and do what I ask of them, they will do well on the test, and they generally do.  But in the end, I don't believe that standardized tests are the answer. 
When I was reading chapter 3 in  THE ART OF POSSIBILITY this week, I found myself wanting what the authors were describing.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized the only thing standing in the way in students apathy towards learning, which I believe is a result of the false learning that is generated by standardized testing. If we are failing our students, it's not a result of a lack of collecting data, but rather, I think the way we are collecting data is getting in the way of true, substantial and meaningful teaching and learning.

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