Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Twas the Day of ELA Testing...

I am sitting here in a dead quiet elementary school building. Every sound is hushed and whispered. Even the most rambunctious of the children are sedated... It must be ELA day.

Bright pink signs are posted everywhere screaming (non-verbally, of course) "QUIET PLEASE! TESTING IN PROGRESS!" It makes me want to run up and down the halls shouting, "NO! I will not be silenced! These tests put undue pressure on my child and are not a true measure of their knowledge! Stop this insanity!"

I want to have a day of testing for the NYS Department of Education (perhaps David Abrams, Assistant Commissioner for Standards, Assessment and Reporting and Richard P. Mills, Commissioner of Education?) and the New York State Legislation geniuses who have decided that our chidren need to be tested to death. I want them to feel the burden placed on the students. Let's see if they can define unctious or ubiquitous. Perhaps they should be required to pronounce certain words correctly... "Guttenberg" or "naive". Maybe a little quiz about the electoral college would be in order or the science of levers. I would love to read their essays just to see how many can use "its" and "it's" properly, as well as the oft misused apostrophe.

But before we test them, let's subject them to grueling week upon week of test prep, test taking strategies, and more test prep. Let's tell them that this test is so important that the grade will follow them for at least 5 more years (yes, my 4th grade son was told that this would follow him through High School).

Those Administrators and Legislators and who do not test well will have to be placed in Academic Intervention and will be required to stay after school. No excuses! It doesn't matter if they normally do very well or if they have test anxiety or if they had a headache the day of the test. Suck it up, baby. This is the NEW YORK STATE TEST.



TomCat said...

To what extent, if any, is the administration of this test linked to 'no child left behind'?

RUTH said...

Interesting to read about schooling in other countries. Blogging certainly makes the world seem smaller. Thanks for your visit to my blog; don't tell anyone but the UFO was just the dust cart. I wonder if anyone will think it was real!

Smalltown RN said...

hello and thanks for dropping by my blog. I am glad you enjoyed my read on dyslexia. I would like to share with you how I went about getting my daughter the support she needed.

As I mentioned she went through all kinds of testing at school. Once it was determined she was dyslexic she was entitled to resource support. At the beginning she got a fair amount but it started to dwindle. My sister who is an educator had suggested to me that my daughter might benefit from going to the school that specialized in dyslexia. My daughters self esteem was going down the tube. She was working so hard. She would do her full day of school then tutoring for an hour after school and then homework.

Anyhow, we looked into the school there was a year waiting list. We put her on the list. She spent grade 6 and 7 at this school. It was the best money we ever spent. Her self esteem improved her attitude towards school improved. I was wonderful to watch. This school uses the Orton Gillingham multi sensory technique. They take the child back to the root of the language and start from scratch. It is amazing to watch. It was a very small school only 70 students with 35 staff. Lots of one on one. Today my daughter is in the public school system in grade 9. She still has problems with math but because she has been identified as someone with a learning disability she gets resources and assistance. It's not perfect but it certainly helps.

As I said the most important thing for me was to help her be the best she could be. She was trying so hard and not seeing any success for her efforts. I could so relate to how she was feeling.

At her grade 7 commencement ceremony my daughter stood up in front of a gymnasium full of people and read a speach. She was amazing the words and how she wrote were beyond her years. I have learn't so much from my daughter.

I hope you find the resources that you need to help your child feel successful. Here is a link to the Orton Gillingham Acdemay You might find is useful.

All the best!

Women on the Verge said...

Hi rn-

This article was actually written by my blogging partner. We both have issues with th "No Child Left Untested" policy our country has adopted.

We went through loads of testing as well with our daughter, both through the school, as well as privately. The problem with our daughter was that the school had/has a difficult time accepting the contradiction that is our child. Her IQ is seen in less than 2% of the population,and then couple that with a diability seen in about 25% of the general population... well, statistically the likelihood of coming across someone like her is very small. Because they've never dealt with it, they don't understand it. We actually do have a school in the area for kids with dyslexia, however the tuition is $25,000 per year... a bit out of our budget range... We placed her in the school for gifted children in the hopes that we could build her self-esteem by focusing on her strengths while we try to shore up the weaknesses as best we can.

two crows said...

I've heard about kids throwing up the morning of the tests. and having their hair fall out. or pulling it out. and chewing their knuckles till they bleed. the horror stories. . . .

and, I've heard about a school that had a VERY strange take on 'no child left behind' but I'll bet Bush loves it:
I was working with a child that I tentatively diagnosed as fairly high functioning autistic or asperger's syndrome.
any noise at all would distract him and mildly loud noises [like kids in the halls or on a bus -- would drive him up a wall.]
so what did the school do? put him in time out a lot. so, of course, he COULD NOT keep up with the other kids.
at the end of the year, he requested he be held back because he knew he couldn't do the work at the next grade level.
but---what do kids know?
they passed him--citing the No Child Left Behind Act.
I even wrote the school a letter at his request. to no avail.
I wanted to cry.
the next year, he gave up trying. this is a 4th grade child.
by my lights, he GOT left behind.

two crows said...

hey, Women--
don't know what took me so long to get here.
really like what I see here--may I link to it?
two crows

Smalltown RN said...

My daughter was and still remains on an IEP program. Sounds like your school is backing out. Have you spoken with the principle? If you don't like what you heard take it to the next level!!

Women on the Verge said...


I'm hoping my blogging partner might have an idea about how connected they are, but I believe those tests are necessary to receive federal funding... no test= no money... I can tell you that No Child Left Behind is responsible in large part for making it extremely difficult to get our daughter the help she needs.


My husband and I have ventured far past the principal at this point as we've been fighting this battle since she was in 5, and she is now 9. They twist the expert data we bring them and tell us it doesn't mean what the experts say it means. I think they believe that if they fight us long enough, we'll get tired and go away. They even tried telling us she was ADHD and discussed medicating her with us. We reluctantly agreed to the testing and we were the only ones who weren't suprised when it showed that she wasn't ADHD ( gifted kids with learning disabilities are often misdiagnosed, and ADHD is one of the top contenders for that).

two crows-

Thank you for the compliment. My blogging partner and I would be honored to have you link to us!

Women on the Verge said...

Wow. Thanks for all the comments. I am the aforementioned partner who wrote this entry. I believe the $$/test connection is the biggest motivator. I am not certain about the No Child connection, but it makes sense. Of course, my child is left behind in another way.

As a gifted student in Middle School, there is no enrichment for him. But that's fodder for another entry....

I will look further into the State Assessment/No Child Connection and would love any info anyone here has.

TomCat said...

Women, that doesn't surprise me. Under NCLB, schools have to divert funds from education for testing just to receive less funds than they received before.

gledwood said...

Hi I'm always picking up rubbish off the streets. I've come across school exercise books more than twice in the past year. I like to see what the younger generation are learning. Well I'll tell you one thing: they ain't learning to spell! Or to punctuate correctly. Or not to say stuff like "we wasn't doing nothing" in an essay!!
I found your blog via Ruth's btw. Are you English? I couldn't help noticing you live in the US, and yet spell "favourite" with a U...

Women on the Verge said...

Welcome Gledwood!

I'm sorry to say that I'm not suprised to hear that the educational system is working hard to share illiteracy worldwide. I'd be willing to bet that the texts you were reading as a child are now considered college level. Just think, 100 years ago when children were taught to read , they began with the Bible, not " See the puppy, see the puppy run".

As to whether I'm English, only through my maternal great-grandma. The spelling probably stems from the fact that I love to read ( especially the classics)!

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Texas, we call it the TAKS test. This is my first year coping with this insanity, and unfortunatley it is with my 9 year old dyslexic son. We are still one month from the actual first test administration (they torture the kids with three administrations before accepting the child really didn't pass), but my son is already coming home with a headache more days than not. This week my son reported to me that if he doesn't "use his strategies" the teacher will see him again in 3rd grade. He was also very upset by the teacher giving him his recent pre-test grade in front of the class and her separate comment that some kids are "holding the class back" in thier inter-class practice test competitions. Now I must tell you that while my son is dyslexic, he is very perceptive of the world around him. As I have an ARD meeting with week, I'm hoping that some of you more experienced warriors can give me guidance as to how to battle this idiot without causig her to further lash out at my son.

By the way, this was the same week in which my 7 year old daughter came home to tell us that two boys in her first grade class had dared each other and touched her bottom while the class was walking the hall. Now I may be crazy, but I am thinking this school might have other issues to address beyond test drilling!!!!

Women on the Verge said...

If you haven't called the principal yet about the teacher's conduct, you have more restraint than I! I know the balancing act... and the fear of retribution for your child, but in my opinion you have to speak up.

I recently had an episode where a teacher made my son and another few students sit in "the loser corner" in the hall way because they had forgotten their text books (in a class where the book is never used). She gave him a zero for homework (he had it done, but was out in the hall when she collected it), he missed an entire hour of instruction and the assignment for the next class.

My son is a great kid. He's respectful and responsible. I emailed the teacher and told her that calling him a "loser" was unacceptable and inappropriate. I called the principal as well and reported the entire incident. He was appalled and he promised me he would talk with the teacher.

No apology but no further issues with the teacher...

two crows said...
calling children 'losers', shutting them out of receiving instruction in order to prove some sort of warped point, holding children up to ridicule.

and the teacher wasn't sumarily fired?
the teacher wasn't blackballed so as never to be allowed to work with children in any capacity again?
well, WHY THE HELL NOT????

Women on the Verge said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of tenure. If any of us did our jobs like this woman did, we would be fired. It kills me that my son has to continue to deal with this woman every day.

Oh, and did I mention that when she responded to one of my irate emails, she spelled "loser" wrong? AAAAARGGGGGHH!

HecticbutHappy said...

Wow great post I absolutly agree. The presure that they put on children and the way they use the results to "clasify" them is beyond wrong. When I was in highschool I always pulled good grades but I would panic on tests. The pressure of the big ACT's ect.. made me back off from College( my stupidity). I was too scared to take the test. It took me 5 years after graduating to enroll in college. Now I run with a 3.63 G.P.A. It makes me wonder how many other children are scared away.