Teaching to the core curriculum is nothing new. Public education in the USA has always been based on reading, writing and arithmetic, but state mandated testing is now the rule in our schools. The reason our states mandate that each child in public schools be tested is to evaluate the school system more than anything else. In other words, it’s a way to test our teacher’s performance. This is the first negative aspect of focusing on core curriculum.
1. Teacher burn-out:
By nature, teachers are creative people who are passionate about teaching our children. Nothing excites a teacher more than seeing the light click on when your child learns something new. He or she will go to any length to teach your child a concept, but when the system pressures a teacher to live up to a certain standard that the state mandates, it creates a frustrated teacher.
No teacher wants her class to be the only one in the school who didn’t pass the test, but since that’s the rule, she is forced to teach to the test instead of from the creative side of her mind. She gets burned out in time.
2. Individual learning style are unintentionally dismissed.
Public school systems are notorious for expecting miracles from their teachers. Every year, the teacher is given more responsibility to do what would be for anyone else, an impossibility. They are told to consider each child in lesson planning, but at the same time, the system requires that every child learn the same basic core subjects within a pre-planned time frame.
There’s no time for enhanced teaching or learning because the teacher must stick to the scheduled plan that the teacher in the classroom next door is following. Field trips are kept to a minimum, as well as creative activities designed to enhance the learning of creative children. Since every child must pass the test for the teacher to justify her teaching effectiveness, the classroom is no longer fun for anyone.
3. Teaching to a test places a stigma on certain students.
Since the USA is based on diversity, teaching to a test places many of its students in a position of being disadvantaged. A child from a middle class, Caucasian income will always score higher than his peers who come from a different cultural or economic back ground. English as a second language, or ESL students don’t have the advantage of comprehension in the English language to have a fair chance in passing the test. They are given modifications and an interpreter, but a very bright Hispanic child will still have difficulty on a test designed with Caucasian children in mind.
4. The public’s view of our educational system is confused.
When a community receives the results of its schools testing, whatever the score turns out to be is the way the community sees the teachers. The same teacher whose students scored low on a core curriculum test might also be the teacher who taught the best. She may have given her students more than anyone else, but the public view of her teaching ability is confused.
Our public school systems are famous for trying this and that to teach our children about reading, writing and math. We change and rearrange every time a new political party takes charge, and the result becomes one of confused and boring classrooms, where the teachers are too terrified to be flexible and teach to the child’s learning style.
What should we do? We need a way to evaluate the success of our education system so that we can see what we need to improve, but we also need to consider the fact that children learn differently with diversity and cultural influence. Because of this, it might be wise to test each community based upon the individual child’s opportunity within that community.