Hudson - Litchfield News October 8, 2010 - 7
In My Opinion...
submitted by Collette Deneault At the end of the last school year, it saddened me to read the letter sent home to parents regarding Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). I would like to believe that scores are not a true reflection of a child’s total knowledge, or who they really are, or what they are capable of accomplishing in life. Society tends to place enormous faith in tests because we think they are reliable indicators of the test taker’s ability and knowledge. The truth is, people are constantly learning. Excessive testing is not
the answer, for it does not adequately measure motivation, creativity, curiosity, the ability to challenge assumptions, and other essential skills and attributes. In many cases, it adds labels that can be crippling and can actually hold a child back in life. The American Teacher Magazine, in its March 2008 issue, stated, “The biggest change schools can implement to make teaching better is … to allow teachers to teach.” Low test scores are not the fault of the school or teacher, nor is it an indication that the child is not learning. In my opinion, the problem is the test itself, and moreover, teaching to the test … its cohort. In my 30-plus years of teaching, this has been most evident with the advent of the No Child Left Behind Act. Although it was developed with good intentions, it appears that it now needs some reconsideration. It seems irrational to expect all children to be motivated to learn by telling them exactly what they should know—unless, of course, they are all clones. Each person has his or her own interests and learning styles. This is what I fondly remember about teaching in years past. Sadly, students are losing the ability to ask questions. Instead, they are being programmed to learn specific curricula, with the main emphasis on high scores. So for example, if your child does not excel in an area that is government- mandated and therefore scores low, it appears that the schools are not doing their job and children are not learning. Parents then become increasingly concerned and want to move their child from one school to another to capture the school with the best score of the year. However, these tests do not assess the uniqueness of individuals. We are inadvertently destroying the beauty and wonder of our children at the expense of testing. Too much testing, and teaching to the test, makes little room for spontaneous learning. As more testing demands are implemented, other essential educational opportunities are necessarily eliminated. It’s not more time that we need, it’s not longer days or shorter summers. In all due respect, it’s simply allowing teachers the time to teach and allowing our children the time to think and ask questions, both necessary components to learning. Teaching to the test is not teaching. It is merely delivering a scripted curriculum that all teachers must follow. Teaching to the interests of our children is the missing element. When everyone has to be given a set curriculum and asked to be on the same page at
Sudoku by Collette Deneault Schools in Need of Improvement? I Think Not!
the same time, you know something is amiss. Kids should not be on a learning assembly line. They are unique individuals and left to their own curiosities, they will develop abilities specific to them. The problem goes back to the “wrinkles” in the No Child Left Behind Act. Schools are forced to implement the mandated curricula and unfortunately, our kids are the ones affected as we change from one expensive idea to another. I believe that no school, teacher, or child is better off than the other because of a slight drop in scores. We are wedged in a slice of history that is trying to keep up with rapid growth, and the government is trying to measure that growth with testing that may or may not fit your child’s learning style. If this situation can’t be altered from the top, then it’s time for parents to step in and go at it from the bottom. Parents need to instinctively believe in their child, their child’s teacher, and their schools, and insist that we do not over-test our children. We need to make room for individual learning and teaching styles. It can be that way … because it used to be that way. I know! I experienced it! I retired in 2005, reluctant to leave my life as an educator, but
grateful that I would no longer have to stifle the creative minds of my students and myself with time-consuming and often irrelevant learning in the name of data gathering. I gradually and painfully felt a diminishing sense of creativity. It was no longer fun to teach. You can’t fully teach metacognition in reading when rich literature has been replaced with basal stories that reflect only a part of a novel. You can’t teach a spontaneous lesson in Math when you have to be on page 29 in the textbook teaching fractions. You can’t teach a week-long, uninterrupted Science Unit when blocks of time have been designated for reading only … as if reading doesn’t exist all around us. And you can’t teach the true meaning of respect when we cannot respect our children’s uniqueness. All of this, unfortunately, occurs in the name of “teaching to the test!” Parents! Do not doubt your school’s or child’s AYP. Instead, doubt that testing and teaching to the test is not the answer to a well-rounded child! Your child is not a statistic. Each is a unique individual motivated by what interests him/her.
I’ve never met a
child whose low testing score in a given area reflected poor overall performance. Each child has distinctive qualities that are not being tested. Even if a child may score low in a certain government- mandated area of testing, please understand that this is not indicative of their potential! My message is: Trust in your child, his teacher, the school, and
your instincts. Do question over-testing and more importantly, the results. Measure Adequate Yearly Progress in your child’s uniqueness, not in your school’s government-regulated standard.
In My Opinion is strictly an OP-ED column that stands on the opinion of one writer, Collette Deneault, as opposed to a newspa- per reporter who does not provide an opinion, but reports the facts. This column, in many instances, is a counterpoint to published stories and does not reflect the unbiased reporting policy of the Hudson~Litchfield News or the opinion of the management, advertis- ers, and ownership of Area News Group.
Ken Blevens, Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate
Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate is the other choice in this election. The bipartisan choice (the two major party candidate) is now making excuses for the high unemployment, large debt, and continued deficit facing the country, claiming that this time they will fix the problems. These are the same candidates that are often referred to as the lesser of two evils. One candidate proposes tax credits that are no more than mini stimulus packages that are only feel-good solutions. This candidate also proposes the Granny D amendment to stop corporate corruption. The other candidate’s proposal for a balanced budget amendment will do nothing to reduce the $13 trillion debt. Factually, we need to do much more and actually reduce the debt, not just balance the budget. Rightfully, the debt and the budget are one in the same.
A start in the right direction would be far less interference through regulation by the federal government regarding the operation of small businesses. No cap and trade, and permanently extend the Bush tax cuts. As an incentive to business, I would propose legislation to repeal all the minimum wage laws. The effect of this will be to allow small and large business to compete and not have to move to Mexico and other countries that have no minimums. Wages should always
be a voluntary contractual agreement between an employee and employer. By keeping these businesses here, it would generate more tax revenue and help eliminate deficit spending, and could even produce a profit and reduce the debt. War in Afghanistan:
Factually, Afghanistan is a model of what the founders imagined this country to be
with very little central government. Our present interventionist policies are only creating distain for ourselves. I therefore would support an immediate orderly withdrawal of all our military. Climate Change is a fact; the cause is the question. As of today, there are questions on the source of the material collected. Without verifiable information, I would be inclined to believe that climate change is not caused exclusively by human activity. Second Amendment: I support the second amendment – the right to bear arms – and will vote to repeal any law that infringes on that right. Abortion: I am pro-choice and do not believe
government should be involved; it is strictly between the woman and the father. I would very much appreciate your vote
November 2 - Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate Ken Blevens.
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