Tag Archives: testing

Day 5: Regrouping after meeting and lots of links to share

Dear Readers,

It’s day 5 of the WordCount Blogathon 2013. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a real challenge to post every day so far.  But, I’m humbled and grateful for the incredible support I’m receiving from you: new subscribers,  old timers, bloggers, friends, family, colleagues, teachers and parents. It’s great to get your feedback. Every good word you send me helps a whole lot and gives me energy to push forward. Thank you!

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Still working on reading through the latest draft plan and attempting to understand it.

From the current Strategic Plan Draft for our district, first page, Core Beliefs:

  • Challenging all students by providing academic rigor is essential to student success
  • All children, regardless of socio-economic circumstances can be high achieving students
  • Academic achievement gaps can and will be eliminated

There’s more. Let’s just think about those top three beliefs for a moment. This  wonderful blog from a teacher  addresses these  issues really well.

And this piece from Salon.

And this.

I’m  sick and tired of the ongoing dismissal of the many out of school factors that contribute to a child’s “success” or “achievement” at school. I’m always happy to see articles that debunk the reformers theories about “achievement” and “gaps.”

There’s big disparity between the rich and the poor. They live  at opposite ends of a spectrum,  in some places within a few blocks of one another. They might as well be worlds apart. To dismiss these factors  is to dismiss  reality. Children shouldn’t be   tested or assessed as if that is the solution or way out of this problem. The children have not created or caused their situation. Their parents want the best for them, just like the parents in the mansions want the best for their children. Just like the people in the modest  family homes do, too. The size and type of our houses doesn’t define how much we love our children.

It’s as if the system is punishing our most vulnerable population for circumstances beyond their control. But the business model being implemented dictates testing, measuring, assessing and rigorous standards, high expectations for all, uniformity, conformity, rigidity and from that we will have ACHIEVEMENT and SUCCESS and COLLEGE AND CAREER READY. They  tell us this is the  way, but it isn’t the right way. It is the absolute wrong way.

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Maybe one day in America, we’ll understand what has been done here. Blaming and then hurting the poor,  the sick,  seniors,  children,  women,  the middle class,  teachers,  unions, heck everyone —-except the greedy, rich, super powerful billionaires who are behind all this; along with the politicians  they  party with  on  yachts and in  super sized homes with marble countertops imported from Italy, while the rest of us citizens try to save our schools from  ruination. We make lunches on   laminate counters we’re happy to have because we have food to cut on the cutting board that we set down upon these very counters and which we take out of our fridge which is from the previous century, and (gasp) not stainless. How do we manage it? Oh, the horror of a non updated kitchen.

But I digress.

Read some of the greats: Diane Ravitch (and also visit The Network for Public Education), Jersey Jazzman, Mother Crusader, and Mark Naison.

The Learning Revolution Project gives me hope —many people are looking for a different future in education.

And this work at Mission Hill reminds me what is possible, and this chapter is about authentic assessments. Lots of talk about assessments here. Tests, tests, and more tests.

Let me leave you with this lovely bit on creativity and imagination.

I’ll stop there for now. Lots of info. Lots of work ahead.

Time for bed. Good dreams.

Love and peace,

Elana

Day 2: Meeting Buzz Aldrin and Making up Words

Dear Readers,

There’s a lot of talk about testing, high stakes testing, assessments, how to measure progress, data. Data driven instruction is coming to my town. All that measuring, counting, time wasting on tests. I feel like a storm is coming here. My stomach hurts.

All I know is I love my son. And I hardly have time. So spending time on things that make  no sense to me feels like a real intrusion. As in an added something I really don’t need in my life right now. As in, plate already full. Already overflowing. Do we really have to deal with this now, too? We do.

I want to see my son healthy and happy. Watch him grow and learn at his own pace. Every size the right size, wherever he is . To see him excited about things–anything. To see him master control over his body and mind and become more of who he is.

He wrote this and gave it to me before bedtime:

Happy Funny Day

A world where children laugh

and gumdrop rainbows

pepper the sky.

And then my son cries to me, “I want nap time at school. Why isn’t there  nap time? I need a break.” When did nap time go away in kindergarten? I had naps. Then graham crackers and juice. I was going to draw something about this but then found this piece by someone else. I think this is perfect!

earlychild

Today Buzz Aldrin was in our town, his hometown, where he  graduated from  high school. We waited on a very long line at the local public library to meet and greet him and have him sign a copy of his new book, Mission to Mars. The wait was miserable, with M  whining and squirming, and on and on, “Please let’s go home.”

After a while, I became that parent. I was the one pleading with him in return, please, it’s almost over, please behave, please, chill, here play with my phone…we’ll get you ice cream afterwards….THAT PARENT. He was only saying what we were thinking. But there I was, trying to get  my son to cooperate with a ridiculous situation of too much waiting.  We’d explained that we, his mom and dad, really really wanted to meet this man, the second to walk on the moon. We’d each watched it on TV as children, and we loved space, that footage never getting old, always giving goosebumps. We felt this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And somehow, M got it that he needed to cooperate just enough so we could get this done. So when it was time for books to be signed and pictures taken, he cooperated.

It was our turn at the table and Mr. Aldrin   signed the book, and I said, “I watched you walk on the moon when I was almost three.” He smiled at me.  M piped up, “I watched you walk on the moon this morning on the DVD!” Mr. Aldrin gave M an even bigger  smile and eye contact.

We met a man who walked on the moon today.

Going to the moon required science, skill, knowledge, rocket fuel, plus a few million things I’ll never  understand. But,  I know it also required imagination,  dreams, and courage. Those are things  my son has. Imagination. Dreams. Courage. I don’t want his school experience to squash what he already has.

I want to go beg the people who are trying to  radically change public school education  as we know it, into something I can hardly fathom. I want to beg. Please, please can we stop this? How do we stop this?

When I tucked him into bed, he said, “Let’s do some huggling now. That’s hugging and cuddling at the same time.” New word.  I think we all need more huggling in our days and nights. More love. I think that will be the thing that unlocks what we need to do. Because I’m pretty certain more testing and data isn’t the answer. How do you measure Imagination? Dreams?  Courage?

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” In his song, “Seasons of Love” Jonathan Larson of RENT answered the question,   how do you measure a life? —-Love.

Love and imagination are some of the things that  helped  get  Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back. Love and imagination belong in our schools.

Peace,

Elana