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View Diary: The Moral Bankruptcy of Standardized Testing (7 comments)

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  •  False assumption (0+ / 0-)

    I am afraid I have a VERY big matter which I have to address in your diary. That is the assumption that schools in areas of social deprevation should get a "pass" for poor attainment levels.

    I think we can first agree that any form of standardized test should be free of any underlying racism, classism or any other form of bias based on cultural assumptions. A math question like "Your personal shopper gets 8% commission from the store. You buy clothes worth $25,000; how much commission does she earn?"  clearly represents a completely alien scenario for most children. Second, I agree with Egalitaire, it's not the tests per se but what they are used for.

    You may know that I am a School Governor (a member of what in the USA might be called a school board but we only deal with one school). The primary (4-11) school is in one of the most deprived areas of London and serves an area with high mobility in publicly provided housing. Around 55% of families are poor enough to be eligible for free school meals.

    There is an (English) national inspection regime where schools are independently assessed by trained pedagogs about once every three years. Schools can be placed in "special measures" or even closed down if they fail these inspections which include classroom observations and an examination of the effectiveness of the administration, including the Governors.

    Several years ago the school was in the lowest quartile of the borough "league table" showing the attainment of 11 year olds in the SATs. This was excused because of the area in which the school is and its population - just as is implied in your diary. The school was nearly placed in special measures but as governors we determined that the excuse was not valid and we should reject anything less than top quality education as a means of ensuring, as far as we could, the social mobility of our pupils in later life.

    The school employs both the national SATs and regular individual assessments of each pupil's progress as diagnostic aids. Not only do these identify the extent of their progress, it also helps identify any special requirements they might have or indeed if the teacher needs help or extra training in a particular subject. Very detailed statistics on the progress, attainment levels etc of the pupils by teaching group, age, etc are given to one governors' sub-committee.

    The school has moved from the lowest quartile of the league table to just into the upper 50% - bear in mind our borough includes some very desirable and leafy suburban areas. In fact data we got yesterday indicated our pupils entitled to free school meals have higher attainment levels than the others (possibly due to the parents of those not on FSM being unwilling to apply). The school's results are now above the national average in the three subject areas tested.

    Our school was the borough flagship school in the "Get London Reading" campaign earlier this year. Our pupils take part in the world-wide math computer-based competition "Mathletics" Currently two pupils are ranked in the 50s in the UK but we have had one in the top 10 in the UK and top 20 in the world.

    By all means do not dishonor historical warriors but more, do not denigrate students from poor and impoverished backgrounds. As Governors, our motto has been "Good is not good enough". Attainment is as much about expectation   as ability.

    (I must add that these improvements are down to the staff and the senior management team, their skills and dedication to education, as Governors, we provide the encouragement as "critical friends").

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Fri May 17, 2013 at 06:31:48 AM PDT

    •  You didn't hear me say that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radical simplicity, DFWmom

      Nobody should get a free pass. Your school was able to succeed because it was able to set its own standards and meet them and the government was able to help them provide a top quality education. In this situation, the state made no effort to work with these kids that I could tell from the story. It just came completely out of the blue and shut down the school.

      •  Slightly more (0+ / 0-)

        I was making the point about how standard testing should be used and,given culturally neutral tests, students at schools in deprived areas can achieve as well in such tests as those in wealthy areas.

        You may have noted that my school had reached a low point where outside intervention was likely. There was a real possibility of  the school being taken over, completely re-organised and all the teachers sacked within a couple of years.

        Outside assessment by local authority advisors has just rated the standard of teaching as good or better.
        BTW, I did not make it clear that it was a whole class that were in the UK top 10 and world top 2O in the last round of Mathletics

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Fri May 17, 2013 at 11:03:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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