UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 18, 2009

ABUSING KIDS TO MAKE SCHOOL OFFICIALS LOOK GOOD

Bill Turque, Washington Post - D.C. police will be deployed to pick up truants and deliver them to classrooms. Administrators are urged to schedule testing in the morning when students tend to do better. But not too early for high school kids, not generally known as morning people.Play classical music at a soft volume, one administrator said in a memo to principals. And don't forget snacks during the test.

The objective of this obsessive preparation is the two-week standardized testing period that begins Monday for grades 3 through 8 and sophomores in public and public charter schools.

The annual exams in reading, math, composition, science and biology will be used by the federal government to gauge which D.C. schools have achieved "adequate yearly progress" as defined by the No Child Left Behind law. . .

In the District, the test -- DC-CAS, short for the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System -- is particularly important because it is one of two tests this year that will provide much-anticipated snapshots of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's progress in her efforts to overhaul the historically underachieving public school system.

A repeat of last year's DC-CAS results, which showed gains in the percentage of students reaching proficiency levels -- including 11 points in math for elementary students -- would provide at least some evidence that Rhee has pointed the schools in the right direction. . .

For the past 10 Saturdays, 34 District schools have hosted "academies" to help children burnish their test-taking skills. Instructors across the District, even in music and art, have been ordered to provide all of their classes with daily opportunities to practice writing brief essays. Teachers are sifting student work for weaknesses and using their early-morning planning periods to tutor those in need. . .

Rhee and her staff are leaving little else to chance. Because test participation rates figure in determining a school's status, D.C. police will help round up truants. In addition to offering cash awards for schools that show 20 percent increases in reading and math proficiency, Rhee has promised money to schools that come up with the best plans for administering the tests, looking at staff training and security. . .

Some assert that too much instructional energy is spent on strategies to raise schoolwide results by tweaking the test scores of "bubble kids" -- those just below proficiency level. The Saturday academy program targeted students in that category, though officials say it was subsequently opened to anyone who wanted to attend.

"Way too much emphasis goes into getting those few kids to score better, while the entire rest of the student population is just put through useless paces," said Virginia Spatz, a schools activist with a son at School Without Walls High School and a daughter at Woodrow Wilson. She said the tests left her sophomore son's schedule "completely whacked out for two days each time."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is a very long stretch to go from a "sophmore son's schedule" being out of whack for two days all the way to "Abusing Kids".

Shame on you...

April 19, 2009 7:59 AM  
Blogger Jesse said...

This tight-knit group of Teach for America Alumni are launching an Ivy League class war against our nation's teachers who take the toughest jobs for lower-middle class pay. It's time we start hitting them back. Their approach goes back to Ms. Kopp's original notion, sitting on her Princeton perch, and without a day of teaching, she decided inexperienced teachers were better than experienced ones. Teachers are advocates for better education, not the enemies, as these corporate-embedded reformers argue

April 19, 2009 10:17 AM  

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