Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama sez: Get rid of those 'boring' tests

    In an interview that ought to scare the daylights out of anyone who cares anything at all about education, President Obama essentially said our nation should do away with testing and accountability and just grade students and schools based on whether or not the kids show up for class. Before I go on, let me allow the president and the story to speak for themselves:
    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.
    "Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools," the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.
    Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation's education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that "everybody agrees makes sense" and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.
    At the same time, Obama said, schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate.
    "One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you're not learning about the world, you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math," the president said. "All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that's not going to make education interesting."
    What a bunch of rubbish! First, these tests are not boring. If anything, just the opposite. I've never heard of a student falling asleep during a standardized test, but I've heard of plenty of kids falling asleep in class.
    Obama then goes on to state that tests are used in some cases to punish schools or students. Well, I do think they can unfairly punish schools with a large number of poor students. But I would challenge Obama to give me the name of a single student who has been punished by a test. It's simply not possible.
    Next we hear the cry of the leftist educators, that tests force teachers to "teach to the test." You betcha! We want teachers to teach those things that society deems important, not just have them rambling on about nothing. So we as a society will put on the test those things that we want the teachers to teach. How in the world can Obama think that testing can inhibit the teaching of science and math when these are among the subjects most frequently tested? Is this man just babbling?
    Finally, Obama suggests that while he sees the importance of testing, it ought to be done only every few years. Does he not understand the two-fold purpose of testing? First, to catch problems in students right away, not every few years. Second, it is to measure the effectiveness of teachers every year by determining the value added to their students, something that can't be done unless the students are tested annually. Of course, it may be part of Obama's master plan to make it impossible to identify or get rid of bad teachers.
    Make no mistake, the No Child Left Behind law was bad law, not because it encourages the testing of children, but because it assumes all children should be held to equally high standards. They shouldn't. Children with IQs of 80 should be held to much lower standards than those with IQs of 120.
    Schools with large numbers of low-ability students shouldn't be punished just because all their children don't become "proficient" in various skills. Instead, we should determine how much children at every IQ level ought to learn with adequate instruction. Only then should schools and teachers that aren't able to provide that level of instruction face the chopping block.
    Unfortunately, with his animosity towards testing, we can all expect the quality of education in this country to decline in the near future. Could someone please give this man a dunce cap?

No comments: