Monday, September 26, 2011

Are We Really Going There?

D.C. Schools Prepare for Nation's First Sex-Education Standardized Testing

Go ahead, click the link.  That title's not a joke.  Our capital's school system plans to use multiple choice standardized testing to gauge student knowledge in 5th, 8th, and 10th grades on a number of health related topics.  Officials created the test to comply with a recent policy enacted by the D.C. City Council.

Officials said that the test, which will also include questions on nutrition, mental health and drug use, is based on a provision of the Healthy Schools Act of 2010, which the D.C. Council passed to address health issues in the 75,000-student system.

But the legislation’s sponsor, council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), said the law requires only that the District produce an annual report describing progress on student health concerns. It does not mandate creation of another standardized test.
As silly as this sounds, every time the citizens of our nation sit back and allow passage of what appears to be reasonable education policy our schools take one more step down the slippery slope of insanity.  Did you hear about the 52 new standardized tests last year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg?  To implement the new Pay for Performance systems students took standardized tests in nearly every subject, including Yearbook!

Now, Virginia is among the bandwagon states that want to link teacher evaluation to student "growth and performance."  Here's the catch.  Can anyone argue that teachers should be rewarded for promoting student growth or assissted when they don't/can't?  Not at all.  Whether you refer to "growth models" or "value added", the idea that teachers should be judged on how much a student learns in a given year can't be refuted.  So no one pushes back against legislation that tries to enable this.

We're beginning to learn this year in Albemarle County about our new Teacher Performance Appraisal system.  We've started changing the system to comply with state requirements that at least forty percent of a teacher's evaluation is based on "student growth."  So far we haven't fallen prey to the testing craze, we don't have to specifically link all of our "growth goals" to standardized testing.  It's going to be hard.  Administrators will have to ensure that teachers set reasonable and rigorous enough goals.  They will have to make sure that standards are applied equally across the division.  Some teachers will have specific data to include (with SOL testing) while others can be more creative (music, art, Psychology, etc.)  In the end, it might look easier to just give the kids a test see how they do.

Standardized testing for Sex ed?  Really?  Wake up America.  Republican or Democrat, education policy isn't working, and until more people stand up and expose the consequences of current education policy we're likely to see more of the same until we finally break this system and start over from scratch.  That idea might sound good to some, but for the millions of students who are being broken down along with the system that is supposed to support them, that is not good enough.

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