The Education Elephant is in the Room and He’s Sitting on Me…Again

This might be a whiny, ranty bitch session about education, so if this is not near or dear to your heart or you wanna tell me to suck it up… move along because today I own these feelings and I need to get them out. However I will try to stay coherent.

I made my baby cry in class today. I failed and I made things worse. I’m stressed, she’s stressed and Lord knows the teacher is stressed! Her teacher wanted me to see her work. *sigh* We’ve been trying so hard to work on some issues she has.

I’m just going to say it….This year’s state tests are ridiculous. The kids are all in a panic, it’s their first year as 3rd graders taking them and in the process they’re being told that the teachers have no idea what’s on the tests because the DOE is overhauling the system with the new ‘Common Core Standards’.

To exacerbate the situation, the private companies that are contracted to write these tests are right onto implementing the new curriculum because, of course, time is money…but the teachers now have to scramble to teach it in time… And catch the kids up, and fill in ALL the holes that the ‘standard’ BEFORE this new common core has left. So… not all the material will have been taught by the time the tests are taken. What’s that you say? How can you take a test when you haven’t been taught some of the material that might or might not be on it, but you’re not sure… and then be graded appropriately and at the correct level? Hard to follow?

My point exactly.

How do you think the kids feel.It’s like going for your written driver’s license test but the book they give you to study is missing half of the information you need, yet it’s on the test! Crazy right?!

The system is broken. There I said it. My children are in a broken system. It’s run by politicians. We know it’s broken. How can it be anything but broken, when funds continue to be cut. You can’t do more with less. No Child Left Behind failed. Children need to be left behind if they can’t do the work but over the last few years since NCLB was dropped, the standards have also been raised, which in my opinion is setting children up to fail anyway! The new inititive, this ‘Race to the Top’ thing, isn’t much better.  When New York City’s DOE admits that this year, they expect up to 80% of students in some districts to fail these tests… what are they doing? What are they trying to achieve? It’s all a bit moronic, right?!

test meme

Did they wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, the kids coming out of the end of High school aren’t college ready because we’ve just been promoting them on anyway, regardless of work standard, so now we’re gonna make the curriculum harder, put more pressure on everyone, that’ll fix it.’ That doesn’t make any sense.

Over the years that I’ve been helping in one of the kindergarten classes at school, (4 consecutive years now) the standards have changed so much that the teachers are stressed and stretched to the limit and more children are staying behind. The problem isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. To add insult to injury it breeds a feeling of failure and kids doubting themselves, when in fact, his or her abilities are age appropriate but the expectations aren’t. It makes me so mad!

Let’s use my beautiful little Miss Gremlin as a perfect example. She is smart, she has extended vocabulary, she is reading on a 6th grade level in the 3rd grade… but her handwriting is atrocious. She’s in 3rd grade and it’s illegible. Why? not because she can’t do it but because right back from day one when she was learning to form her letters she wasn’t told to do it again. She wasn’t told it wasn’t good enough. There simply wasn’t time… The standards that were put in place insisted that kindergarteners produce pages and pages of writing. It was all about the ‘content’ and getting the ideas down on paper. The more the better, they were expected to be writing 3-4 sentences a page and up to 3 pages. But trying to get 20 kids to extend their writing at age 5 doesn’t leave room for correction on penmanship, which by the way is no longer considered a subject. As she went on it wasn’t addressed in 1st grade, 2nd grade and now here we are in 3rd and I have to teach her to write so that they can read it when they score the test. It’s not any of the teachers’ fault, they don’t have time, they are pushed so hard. They don’t even have time to teach the curriculum that’s set for the year. How can they possibly spend more time on individual children who need extra instruction on things that weren’t addressed the previous year or even years as is Miss Gremlin’s case.

She’s a normal child who has still managed to slip through the cracks.

I’m worried for her, she’s worried. It’s an added stress these kids just don’t need. Even Grand Master D who has taken these tests for years now, said he’s worried because everyone is focused on how hard the test will be. It’s the fear of the unknown and it’s not fair. We all acknowledge the system is broken but why can’t the  new standards be phased in, instead of dumping it on kids across the board in one fell swoop, knowing full well that a large percentage will fail. How will that affect the learning psyche of students in the future. I wonder has there been a study done on that. There must be a better way. I really hope it can be found.

Are your kids testing this year? Are they changing the standards on the fly in your district?



Comments 32

  1. Our tests are in transition, too. There is a lot of blame to go around. I am so frustrated with my district, school, and my daughter’s teachers. They all seem more interested in passing her than educating her. Next year she’ll be in high school, and I know she is not prepared. The system is definitely broken, and changing the tests is not going to fix it.

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      I’m really worried. I am so close to throwing it all in and home schooling. I think I could actually do it. I’m certainly gonna look into it…My son is in 7th grade so this year’s score will determine which high schools he can apply to

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  2. Jenn, Get your shizz in a row now. Virtual school. Not even kidding. Miss Motherlife, I’m so sad for you and your lovie. It’s so sad that we are putting that much pressure on our kids over these tests now. I taught in Texas back when Mr. Bush was Governor. The education system there was SO completely messed up! Not even kidding. They couldn’t find teachers to work in the schools. So anyone with a high school diploma OR a GED could teach. Long term. All year. Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t teachers with degrees who suck or that there are amazing teachers like you without an expensive piece of paper that calls them a teacher. But my girls are already prone to anxiety and the shit going on in schools isn’t helping. I am so torn about it all. I wish I could home school. But I need them to go to school too. Did I mention I’m a teacher? Yah. Even I can’t buy into the schools any more. Discouraging. Hang in there. Next week, they’ll be over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Until next year this time.

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  3. I agree 150%! My daughter is also in the 3rd grade. In Florida they call these tests FCATS! I don’t even know what those letter stand for. But, I could come up with some names myself. ( I won’t tho). My daughter is so stressed out!!! She does pretty well in school, although as soon as she knows she’s taking a test, even worse a timed test she freezes and freaks out. In Florida, the public school is now required to teach so the children are ready for these tests. Teachers and schools are evaluated on how the students score.

    I dreaded this week since I had my baby little girl.

    Great post!

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  4. I agree that the system is broken. We no longer have cursive handwriting on the books, lack of time I suppose but aren’t these kids going to have to sign their name to a paycheck at least? My daughter is also in 3rd grade and the biggest stressor is the attachment that if they don’t pass this IRead test, they don’t go to 4th grade! Talk about stress..there was an after school program to get them more prepared which did help her with her self confidence and hopefully the skills needed to pass. I’ve already made the decision that if she doesn’t pass, I will be home schooling next year rather than have her live with the stigmatism of failing a grade. She is smart and reads very well, gets decent grades but what if she tests poorly? She’s got the grades but still won’t pass. It’s sad that it’s become more about the money the school will get instead of the quality of learning.

  5. I agree that standardized testing is NOT the way to go… but I just wish I knew what was the right way. My biggest problem with standardized testing is that not every kid does well on tests.. and tests aren’t always the best way to garner how well someone comprehends the material.
    Using myself as an example… in Grade 12 I was getting a 98% in Chem 12, but then the final government test came around and dropped my grade to a 68%…
    I find out now (in college) that it’s due to anxiety and since I’ve been getting special testing accommodations I’m getting A’s… but again, it’s still not reflective of how well I know the material… I lose marks because I second guess myself and stress out and my anxiety gets the best of me.

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      My point exactly! Pop quizzes, portfolio work and classroom teacher assessment should be all that is required for elementary school. Kids that age have no business being tested. Be honest and realistic about a child’s ability and if they’re not passing keep them back. That the teachers performances are gauged on the passing grades of a student is a bad way to assess their worth. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. These tests are ridiculous. We take the FCAT and will be changing over to the Core Standards. The transition itself is a whole other story…

    All four boys are taking the FCAT, two being in 3rd grade. One of my third graders has a processing problem and reading is a struggle to say the least. He in an inclusion class this year and has the best teacher, who I know is the best teacher any of my kids will ever have.

    For first time ever, he is on grade level in reading. He will receive time and a half on the tests which are/were Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs.

    The amount of pressure they put on kids, from third grade thru twelve is crazy. Bonuses, school funding, school grade and retention all weight heavily on these kids.

    I got a letter last week stressing that we as parents should not worry our kids about the test. Well, no shit school district. You do enough of that. I banned the word FCAT in our house and tried my hardest to calm the little kids down. They were nervous wrecks yesterday!

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      Yes Miss Gremlin was worried but I think the fear of the unknown was the worst. She’ll be better tomorrow having sat the first one today. I saw Grand Master D at lunch time and he said day 1 was easy.We’ll she what she says when she gets home in a couple of hours.

      I’m sorry to say that the teaching ways of the past may, in fact, be a better method? Dare I?

  7. I am planning to home school too. I just think school is too much of a mess. There’s no other way to describe it.

    P.S. Not to minimize your worry, but handwriting is probably not as important as it once was. Everyone is always typing all the time. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Maybe handwriting will be hers, but reading at a 6th grade level in the third grade probably more than makes up for that. You must be really proud. I think, if you can read well, you can teach yourself to do just about anything.

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      Hi Lillian, thanks for coming by!. While you make a valid point on the handwriting, until they give every kid a tablet at their desk to type their answers on the tests and all their other classroom work, then these kids need to be able to write legibly. And you know ain’t nobody got money for dat!

      1. Good point about the tablets. Can you imagine a third grader (and her parents) having to be responsible for one? Nightmare! Plus, I remember a while back a school was spying on kids at home through their school issued electronic devices. They tried to expel a kid for doing drugs. Turned out he was eating skittles.

        Better to work on the old handwriting after all! 🙂

  8. HATE standardized tests
    they drive me nuts… when you have valedicitorians not passing standardized tests something is wrong
    My oldest Failed a reading state test which was weird however the next year she was put in an AP class and remedial reading????
    We are trying computerized testing this year (so glad I only have 1 left in high school)~ how many glitches do you foresee???

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  9. Can’t stand the state of education. My kids aren’t going through that nonsense exactly, but the whole testing thing is such BS. I send my kids to public school, but I also try to do educational stuff with them myself b/c school isn’t enough. They keep raising the bar w/o raising the instruction time, lengthening the school day or duration of the school year. I don’t want my kids to learn how to take a test. I want them to actually learn.

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      Right ON! Why don’t we have year round school! they don’t need 13 weeks off in the the summer. But get that past the teachers union.They could totally do semesters like other countries.

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