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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Blog (10/20/11)

TITLE: Testing, Testing... For What?
By Allison Egley
11/02/11


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9/15/10

Well, it's the start of a new school year. I think this year will be good. I love all my little kiddos. Some of them are a handful, of course, but they're so cute.

I do have my work cut out for me, though. It's obvious some students have been "herded on" from grade to grade, so to speak, and haven't mastered the basics. One girl can barely write her own name, even though she's starting 3rd grade. She's in special education, but the big thing now is mainstreaming, and I think it's bad for students like her because she can't get the individual attention she really needs. A few hours a week in a special class isn't enough. I hope I can be a positive influence in her life this year, along with all the rest of my students.

Signed,
The Disgruntled Teacher (TDT)


4/1/11

This week starts the "high stakes testing." My favorite time of year! (That's sarcasm.) It's mind boggling how much emphasis is placed on these tests. The week before, they try to pump the kids up. They send letters home with the students, reminding parents it's important their kids are at school every day, get a good night's sleep, and that they eat a good breakfast. So that isn't important, oh... I don't know... every day?

After last week's fun, what do the kids get to do? Sit. For hours at a time. I wish I were kidding. At my school, they aren't even allowed to read afterwards. So wait a second. We're putting an emphasis on reading, and we won't let them do it after finishing the test? Are we afraid that they'll figure out an answer to the test and change it? Good. It means the student is observant. Are we worried they'll read something funny and start laughing? Good. At least they'd be having some fun.

I feel sorry for them. They're just trying their best to answer these questions. Some of them look terrified at the end, and they ask me what happens to them if they don't pass. It's too much pressure for these kids.

Signed,
TDT


8/4/10

Well, another school year is over (Actually a new one is about to begin!) and along with that, the state has released the results of the tests the students took back in April.

The students at my school did not make "Adequate Yearly Progress." AYP for short. Oh, really? They didn't?

Tell that to Molly, who would barely speak to anyone at the beginning of the year. By the end of the school year, she was the most popular girl in class, for all the right reasons. The last day of school, she asked if she could talk to the class. She stood there and told every single student why she'd miss them over the summer. Tell me that isn't AYP.

What about Anthony? At the beginning of the year, he was getting in trouble every day for swearing. The last day of school, he accidentally slipped and said something that wasn't so nice. It wasn't even really a swear word. He apologized to me immediately, and went over to the behavior chart to change his card from green to yellow. He hadn't touched that card in two months. I laughed and flipped it right back over to green. I told him we all make mistakes. Tell me that's not AYP.

And Dana? She's the one could barely write her name at the beginning of the school year. On the last day of school, she gave me a "Thank You" card she wrote herself. Sure, there were some spelling errors, but I could tell what it said. Tell me that's not AYP.

Everyone is so worried about schools "failing." With the current standards, every single school in America will be failing by 2014. The standards state every student will be "proficient." What does it even mean, if it's something every student can achieve? It devalues it. I don't care how good the teachers are or how good the schools are and how much money they have to spend. You cannot make every student "proficient." We can help children achieve their own goals, but not every child will reach the same goals.

So what do they do to schools who don't make AYP? Cut funding. That's supposed to help?

I'm sorry. I've ranted long enough; but Iím angry, and I fear for our children's future.

Signed,
TDT


*****
While this is a fictional account, unfortunately, it does represent the reality in American schools today. "High stakes testing" has changed the face of American schools, and, for the most part, not for the better. These views do reflect the personal views of the author, and there is so much more I could say.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/05/11
I really enjoyed this. The beginning grabbed me immediately and the ending was fantastic.

I think your weakest area was creativity because I've read several sample blogs. However, the subject matter was quite fresh.

The message is a great one. I've heard several stories about teachers helping students pass standardized tests so that the school will get more aid.

This is A delightful read!
Lillian Rhoades 11/08/11
As mentioned, the blog format was not a unique approach to this week's topic, but your message was clear. I like the personal examples you used to show one aspect of true "progress" in education. Your characters were "real." I thought the opening sentences of your blog could have begun with a bit more flair, as well as the last sentence/paragraph which seemed a bit redundant.
You repeated what you had already shown throughout the piece. A very timely topic that I agree needs to be heard.
CD Swanson 11/09/11
Excellent message and so true. Good job bringing a crucial issue to the fore front. God Bless you~
Noel Mitaxa 11/11/11
I hear the accuracy of your comments from way Downunder! My wife loves her special needs students (including the one she's married to!) and knows your frustration. Yet despite the frustration, your kids are receiving an unforgettable legacy of God's grace as they sense your respect for them. That legacy can't be measured by tests or funding levels. Hang in there, kiddo.
Kristine Baker11/14/11
I understand your concept here in writing a blog about your school system, but I was confused on the dates. If I am reading it correctly, the last date should have had the year 2011 not 2010.

Other than that, you captured life in a blog very well.
Phyllis Inniss 11/17/11
I do not know much about blogging, but I appreciate that you have had the courage to show up the deficiencies in a system that could affect the future of so many children. Some children just need that special, individual attention to bring them up to an adequate standard and you have presented this idea very clearly.