The NCLB and standardized test beast

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Jun 16, 2009

    I'm still reeling over the announcement my principal made the last week of school. First, a little background. If my school doesn't make AYP in math this year we will be a watch school (we won't know the results until July.) The fear of the "what if" has our admin in a tizzy.

    They've decided the best thing to do next year is completely eliminate all direct Social Studies and Science instruction and use that time for Math remediation. Really? :huh:

    This doesn't affect me, since in 5th grade we block. They have 40 minutes of SS and Science daily, but wow!! Our kids will know how to do long division and identify cause and effect, but they won't be able to tell you much about biomes or economics!

    The theory is that SS and Science can be integrated into Language Arts. While that's absolutely true, that certainly leaves a lot less time for great fiction books.

    And the kicker is this...ALL classrooms must do only Math for morning work. That stinks for me because it's how I incorporated grammar into my day each class period. So this means that all students will be taught Reading for 2.5 hours and Math for about 2 hours, plus the 20 minutes or so of Math morning work.

    And we wonder why our schools are failing?
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Wow, PF, that is crazy! So even if you're not teaching math, you still have to in a 20 minute period? Since you teach ELA maybe you could alternate days with reading fiction/non-fiction text. Or you could pick fiction texts that are based on social studies content and discuss what is true and what the authors made up.
     
  4. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Jun 16, 2009

    I know where you are coming from - the 1st school I taught at down here was on the edge being taken over by the state or something like that - no one who had been there before me could ever tell me what year the school was in - nice, huh? Well luckily the school made expected growth which gave the school a 1 year break from being taken over. I left after that 1st year due to a lot of things but also like you said - the lack of teaching science and social studies was very apparent. I had 5th graders who didn't know cities from states much less where they were in the US.

    I wonder how that will affect the Science EOG's for your school? Or is your P thinking that Science won't count ever????:confused:
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Here in TX, the students are tested in Science in 5th grade, and must pass in order to move up to 6th.
     
  6. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Ooooh, I never thought of that! Our Science score were pretty high compared to the rest of the county, but that's because we're one of the few schools that blocks in 5th. The trickle-down effect is going to be hard to combat!

    Frogger, do you know when the EOG in Science will count?
     
  7. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    This scares me. I am a huge advocate for the importance of math education, and I will be sticking math into my earth science curriculum at any opportunity. I will be inventing ways to do it! I will be conferring with the 9th grade math teachers to get input on what to sneak in. But, math taught in a vacuum is not all that useful in the long run. Kids need application and context.
     
  8. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    No - no one can ever tell me that...I was told that this year they were part of the AYP but didn't count.:confused: We still had Science remediation during the school year but not for summer school - only math and science.
     
  9. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Exact same scenario here.
     
  10. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    I wonder if the schools don't even know about Science EOG and when it will count either....
     
  11. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    This why I get high schoolers that don't know we fought TWO wars with Germany - I hear it every year "We fought TWO wars with Germany. You gotta be kiddin' me Mrs. INteacher. Are you sure?"

    UUUUGGGGGHHHHH No social studies boo hiss
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 16, 2009

    This is stupid. High scores on tests need to be a byproduct of good learning of skills, material, and applications, not the goal.
     
  13. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    It is just nuts!

    I am telling you we are going to pay for all this test craze in about 20 years, when there are no creative thinkers around, and adults don't know how to apply all this junk they are taught to pass a test! Intellect is being butchered for a test score.

    It drives me nuts.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    A proper education fosters both creativity and discipline. The field of education tends, though, to yaw from one to the other - getting the balance right seems to be almost accidental. How depressing is that?
     
  15. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Jun 16, 2009

    You are right teacher!

    I put my blinders on and do what I know is right. Of course, I have a lot more freedom where I teach than many of you do. I go about reaching the curriculum goals in whatever way I believe is best for a particular class. I also get to teach in a way that uses the best of my talents.

    In a public school with so much emphasis on tests results it would be harder and so stressful! Try to stay under the radar and sneak in some creative stuff too. Esp. for math! I believe we are teaching math generally in a way that is totally the opposite of how we should be teaching it. I like Marilyn Burns for the lower grades.

    Grrrrr. It is so frustrating because it seems the people making all these decisions don't even know what it means to be a teacher, don't understand that students learn differently, don't understand there are interesting and creative ways to help kids actually understand math and how to become problem solvers - and we in the trenches don't have a say in what is going on!

    I think we need National boards made up of actual teachers from across the country to get things on track!
     
  16. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    That may possibly be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard about happening on this board. What are these people thinking?! I get increasing math instruction time, but there has GOT to be a less drastic solution.
     
  17. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Jun 16, 2009

    Science counts for performance, but not growth because there is no way to judge it. This is the first year it has counted for anything.

    That said, K-4 teachers could not teach science and it would not affect the 5th graders on their EOG at all because only the 5th grade curriculum is tested. If your science test scores go down significantly next year, I would think that would throw up red flags.
    Not that I think it is right...
     
  18. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jun 16, 2009

    That happened before they started testing Science here on TAKS - people had stopped teaching it, then suddenly the 5th Grade class was trying to cram everything in - the vocabulary just wasn't there. The first year it was given here, even exemplary campuses tanked it - there were campuses with like 30% of kids passing. You can't teach everything in one year, the concepts build on each other.

    Our part of the district has a new executive principal who wants to do more hands-on, project-based, meaningful learning even in the higher primary grades. He said our scores may go down for a year or two but after that we should she a major increase in actual application of what is learned. We'll see what happens.
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'm with that executive principal: if the projects involve correct vocabulary and critical thinking - including thinking through causes and effects and also justification of reasoning, and if all the teachers are on board with that and can model it, then I'd bet on kids who are much better at explaining how they reached a justifiable conclusion or at catching themselves while they're making an unjustifiable one. And, oh yeah, test scores should go up too.
     
  20. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Jun 19, 2009

    Right.
     
  21. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Jun 19, 2009

    Exactly!
     
  22. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    I have seen that too especially at my old school where it's a struggle every year to meet AYP - even with block scheduling there is no way to cram all that science into 1 year and have those kids get it much less be successful on a test like the EOG's.

    Science terminology is like learning a foreign language on top of definitions and then applying it to actual scenarios that the DPI has put on the EOG's.
     
  23. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    My school focuses on math and reading as well, but we are able to get around this by departmentalizing science and social studies. We are able to get an hour of science and social studies a day. Our test scores drastically improved with this practice. It's like the admin cannot see past elementary. I mean eventually these kids will have to know science and ss.
     
  24. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    A wise woman, though I won't mention names (teachergroupie), once said, on these very boards, that children can't be readers until they are doers. Go ahead and "incorporate science and social studies into reading". I think they'll find the result is the opposite of what's intended. If kids don't have the background of experience, you may as well be putting a theoretical mathematical statistics book in front of them. They won't get it, they'll get frustrated, and their reading skills will drop.
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    No wonder my ears were burning...

    It's well known that a good oral vocabulary is crucial in building proficiency in reading. That goes double for reading to learn, and in fact it works both directions: if readers keep always having to stop and think to recover or discover the words that are fundamental to the discipline, it's bound to hamper their comprehension and it's bound to turn most of them off the discipline.
     
  26. TBRacing

    TBRacing Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2009

    The school I was student teaching in has failed the last several years so we had all kinds of things we had to do. We had to do a curriculum mapping program for the teachers, and we had a computer program called Success Maker that the students had to do for 30 minutes each day. Between all the extra things you have to do in the day it was so hard to actually find time to teach!
     

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