Initially, I thought a stricter focus on standardized testing was a good thing. It seems now that it is indeed ruining public education, but I think most people miss the real cause. That cause is the very reason the testing seemed like a good idea to start with. There is a very troubling lack of either properly qualified or motivated teachers in the public school system.
It seems like many teachers’ curricula have started to revolve around standardized testing. This was not the purpose of the tests. These tests were meant to assure students have the bare minimal standards and skills acceptable for their age level. Instead, teachers struggle to provide even the low end of the curve to students. Do we blame the teachers or the tests? Yes, the tests are ruining the schools; however, they are a symptom not the disease. We need to treat the problem at the source.
If we conclude that all children are not the same, what factor can best assess their progress? Wouldn’t the logical assumption be to use the lowest denominator? Shouldn’t we test only the basic skills that most of the children should have mastered years earlier? What could be easier even than making most of it multiple choice. It should be clear that this is part of the problem.
You could argue that anyone focusing on multiple choice and minimum writing standards is doing an injustice to the children. If the argument were against this being the only method of education, I would blame those not pushing the students further. I would blame those who let them fail and fall so far behind as to have this be their only possible method of continued education. Instead, most of these tests are viewed as too hard for the children or too constricting.
We need to accept that the tests are a sign of failure. We need to accept that the tests will ruin the schools. At the same time, we need to clearly accept the solution to this problem. The tests are there because teachers standards have not been there. If we raise the quality of education, the tests will go away… problem solved. We need to focus on factors that aid in this problem.
When did it become acceptable for public servants to form a union? They make it look like they demand from the evil large school district, but they really are united against the tax payer. They work for us, yet they continue to demand more while quality declines. The answer is putting education back on track with the rest of our society. The rest of us operate under the capitalist (American) system. Schools do not have to compete for money or meet our standards under their corrupt system. Private enterprise is one of the best solutions to stop our educational systems from being ruined.
Many teachers have no inherit quality that fits them as mentors, teachers, or even mature adults. Somehow, these people are not finding their way through the bottom of the sift. As tax payers, we need to start holding the teachers accountable and take some of the pressure and focus away from students. The pressure that does filter to the teachers is too little too late after the damage has been done to the students.
In some states, just about anyone that clears a background check seems to be able to teach. What does this say about how much we value the education of our children? What about all the other factors that go into being a good teacher? I find many current failing teachers are qualified to babysit and entertain children, but many lack any real discipline. They are not able to provide these students with the full range of mentoring and knowledge they deserve.
The idea that the minimum is enough starts the problem. It gets worse when that becomes a struggle and the minimum becomes the goal. If we don’t find a clear solution quickly, the tests will surely ruin public schools. Ultimately, if we don’t accept the truth and choose the right solution those tests could ruin our whole society. We just must acknowledge that the problems runs much deeper than the tests. They are only the painful surface we must first clear away. It will keep scabbing back if we don’t clean out the source of the infection to our schools, only then will good students and teachers finally flourish again untainted.