Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two things: SOL tests and Stoopid Parents


Part One.

This morning I got to witness first hand the benefits of SOL testing.  My daughter, Analee, woke up five minutes late for school.  Immediate snot-flinging ensued.

“Great! I’ll never make it!  The teacher said not to be late because if we’re late we can’t take the test!” (tears) 

The general “freak out” lasted about ten minutes before I was able to calm her down and assure her we still had time to get her ready.

“But I won’t even have time to eat breakfast!”  (more tears)

I reminded her that eating a bowl of cereal could be done in five to seven minutes, tops.

“But where’s my coat!” (and more tears)

Got her coat,

and out the door.

Having had five children go through the public schools systems I’ve seen about every reaction to testing there is.  None of it good.

Okay. So, I DO understand the need to measure the effectiveness of teaching but the standardized tests and the “No Child Left Behind Act” (while good in theory and a really lovely ideal) are two of the most ineffectual laws put into use today.

The result of turning learning into a product and not a process: 

Overstressed, overwhelmed teachers.

Overstressed, overwhelmed students.

Cookie cutter curriculums which force individuals onto a collective middle ground leave little room or time for differential  teaching techniques geared to the more advanced or the learning challenged child.


People. Children are not all the same.   Some bright politician decided the “Core” curriculum for a third grader should include a large section on Greek Architecture.

I'll say that again because it’s so flabbergasting.

A 8-9 year old needs to learn about the different types of columns on the Parthenon?  Why? So the next time they build a Greek temple they'll be sure to use the correct columns having learned the important aesthetic of ruffled marble?


That’s stoopid.


Here’s an article:  

  Why parents should be concerned about the SOL's

Part two later.


  1. i read this nodding my head in agreement, then figured you couldn't hear me nod.

    when my daughter was in middle school, she came home and announced that she was not a visual learner after all. the school tested the kids and sent her home with the information that she was audio- alllll the way.

    that baffled me because i know her too well and i know she only recalls things after she reads it. so i called the school and asked to see the test. the principal hadn't seen it yet. turns out the question to the kids went like this: "would you rather have the teacher teach you during class, or would you rather take the book home and read it?" my daughter answered that she learned best when the teacher TAUGHT. the folks interpreting said data determined this meant she learned the best when she heard the material, not when she read it.


    another stoopid parent,


  2. Nah, you are not stoopid. No way. When I say "stoopid" parents I mean something entirely different Sherry. All parents kinda learn as they go and make mistakes all along the way. When I say "stoopid" parents I mean like, really stupid, leave the kid in the car while you go inside to shop stupid. I'll get to that later on...being involved in sports brings out the "stoopid" a lot. I've observed some really repulsive behavior recently and feel the need to write/vent about it.

    As for the ways tests are interpreted...recent (and past) child psychology findings have proven that "test" taking (of the mulitiple wrong/right or true/false kind) is very limited in accessing the actual data learned and/or ability of the learner to learn.

    Most people are a mixture of visual, auditory, and kinetic learning. The best teachers use all three in engaging students. Which isn't as hard as it sounds, just takes a little ingenuity.

    Boys tend to be more kinetically inclined, which is why (I think) there are so many kids in grade school drugged up now a days (the ratio of children on mood stabilizers gender wise is fairly high on the boy side.) ADD too is on the rise...why?

    My theory:
    It's a cultural thing:

    Poor diet, stoopid t.v., teaching to the tests, (which involves mostly auditory rote teaching and doesn't use a synthesis of all three).

    Kids aged 6-10 shouldn't be required to sit three or four hours at a time...it's developmentally and physically impossible.

    But, there I go...probably spouting off more information than you needed to hear! Obviously, I uh..have, um...strong opinions about it.

  3. Melanie, the No Child Left Behind fracas was a crowd-pleasing political move that's reduced our public school system to a 12-year audition for Stoopidland. No question about it.

    Hey, I was an A+ student from kindergarten through college, and it wasn't until I researched my grandfather's Alabama family in my thirties that I discovered the Civil War was fought in the 1860s. Who knew?

    We've been aware in this country since the '70s of the distinction between short-term and long-term memory. As in: memorization for tests utilizes short-term memory and learning about life utilizes long-term memory. When did we get hoodwinked into forgetting tha distinction? When it turned into a money game.

    So we homeschool our son. I learned about the benefits of homeschooling in the early 1980s when I was working with children at an avant-garde alternative school. And that was way back before the testing mania in public schools. Not only do we homeschool now, we unschool.

    You know what that 12-year-old is doing, as I type? Sitting at the kitchen table behind me creating props for a movie he's making and humming an improvised melody based on his favorite Big Band and jazz tunes. He showed me the script he wrote yesterday for the scene he's working on: concrete structure and character development building naturally to a faux resolution and climax, with unexpected non-sequitor humor thrown in for good measure. (He said, "I wrote a script, and you're going to love it, Mom. It's got lots of faux resolutions.")

    I've just recently started tutoring local students in English and creative writing. I love those darn kids. What energy and imagination! But the damage done to them already by the public school system of teaching to the test is really heartbreaking.


  4. Thanks so much for sharing Victoria...
    I have friends who home school and they love it. I tried for a year and I was always worried I wasn't a good enough teacher, that my children weren't getting socialized enough...now that I've got three in high school I constantly wonder if I made the right decision to stop.