Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Testing mania: At least we're not New York

A national push-back against standardized testing debuted this week, with groups from Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham signing a petition for the federal government and state legislators to ease up on exams.

The petition calls for developing better ways of holding schools accountable for student achievement. Sponsors include such national groups as the NEA, FairTest, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Parents Across America, with Pamela Grundy of Charlotte as a spokeswoman.

As most of you recall, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools created an uproar last year by launching dozens of new local exams, from science and social studies tests for kindergarteners to multiple-choice tests on high school journalism. CMS has since backed off,  but state and federal mandates continue to demand heavy use of standardized tests to grade students, teachers and schools.

It's probably not a coincidence that as this effort was kicking off,  the most bizarre test question I've ever seen began making the electronic rounds.  You may have seen the story of "The Hare and the Pineapple," a hilariously surreal tale used to test reading comprehension.  I really thought someone had been tricked by an item from The Onion or some other satirical site, but it's posted on the web site of the New York State Education Department, responding to criticism about its use on a state exam created by Pearson Inc.

Meanwhile, a former colleague shares this article about 3- and 4-year-olds in New York City taking test-prep classes so they can get into public kindergartens for gifted children. Yikes!

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