Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Students pass state test, but at what cost to their Education?

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer...

Students pass state test, but at what cost to their education?
by Regina Brett

The school report cards came out in June.

Rocky River Middle School passed the 2008 Ohio Achievement Tests, earned an Excellent rating from the state and met the requirements for Annual Yearly Progress.

For all of those accomplishments, Principal David Root has only one thing to say to the students, staff and citizens of Rocky River:

He's sorry. Root wants to issue an apology. He sent it to me typed out in two pages, single spaced.
Now read the article for all the reasons why.... It is just like the WASL fiasco except it is in Ohio.

Niki Hayes comments:

I read every single response by readers to this article. I agreed with most of those who had little patience with this principal and reporter. I also agreed with many of those who commented on and/or defended teaching in general.

The total picture is far bigger than being against any test, including the badly written ones like the WASL. The major element is the lack of learning/ teaching of foundational academic skills in the disciplines due to misguided (at best) or lousy (at worst) administrators' leadership and, of course, good parent involvement.

Then, spending a week or two on the strategies of passing a particular test's design or format is all that would be needed because the learners would be well grounded in the content of the subjects. (People who pay for SAT tutoring classes do just that--learn "how" to take the test.)

There are schools that teach the traditional disciplines and who score well on the WASL. (Check North Beach Elementary in Seattle.)

It would be a good idea if others .... read all of these comments.


more from Niki,

I would still maintain that if students have been taught proficiency in content during their elementary years, the middle and high school exams would be less daunting, regardless of how crummy they are designed. I can attest that many "learning disabled" students are ones who weren't taught phonics and/or the linear progression in mathematics; therefore they could not read or write well, especially in linguistically- designed math instruction. Most special ed teachers will tell you that at least 50% of the students in special ed don't belong there as a result of organically- caused disabilities. These kids are in special ed because of cultural deficiencies in the home environment and/or poor teaching programs in their first three years of schooling.

The WASL, and others like it, is the tip of the iceberg. It's the easiest thing to blame for all of a school's problems. My anger is with those who let the test be designed and implemented based on a social/political philosophy that's created to change behavior rather than teach knowledge and skills.

My solution is what many others have already stated: Use the ITBS or the SAT or ACT. The information needed for those tests is known, normed, and generally respected.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A principal manages to apologize to his parents and students, but a politician won't.

Gigi decided not to run this year -another rat jumping ship I suppose.

I wonder how close Gigi was to Milken, Bennett, Ellison, and Knowledge Revolution.


Nevertheless, his obsession with dethroning Bill Gates and becoming the new custodian of cyberspace may finally have paid off in the form of the network computer. It is the perfect vehicle with which to accomplish his ends. Rather than fighting for market share against Gates with the Netscape Navigator web browser or the Macintosh operating platform, the network computer offers Ellison a more satisfying prospect: subverting Gates' empire by turning the desktop PC into a relic -- or at least an instrument limited to a niche group of computerphiles.

Ellison envisions the masses working on simple computing devices that don't need Gates' high-priced and quickly outdated software packages. Instead, those devices will run on global computer networks that will be powered by Oracle's software programs.

Then the computer industry will kowtow to Larry Ellison instead of Bill Gates. Ellison will set the agenda for the future of computing. It is he whose half-shaven face and expensive double-breasted suits will continually grace the covers of business and technology magazines. It will be Ellison who becomes the richest man in America and makes appearances on Larry King Live and Nightline with Ted Kopple.

Those are some of the trappings that drive Ellison's obsession for toppling Bill Gates. It annoys the Oracle strongman that a dweeb like Gates is commanding such attention, reverence and adulation. Why him, Ellison wonders? Why a man in a greasy crown of hair and ill-fitting sweaters? Why not a man like him, one who is in superb physical condition, appreciates sartorial splendor, a meticulous coiffure, high-performance automobiles and the constant companionship of stunning young women?

Such imperious aspirations prompted one Bay Area venture capitalist to quip that Larry Ellison "requires a forklift to carry his ego around."

The man's pomp and pageantry aside, Ellison may indeed have been right when he pronounced four years ago that "IBM is the past, Microsoft is the present, Oracle is the future."

But in light of Ellison's less refined characteristics -- including the indiscriminate use of his rapier tongue -- one must wonder if we would actually choose to trade a Bill Gates dictatorship for Larry Ellison's form of technological totalitarianism.

Could this really all boil down to two billionaire egoists?