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January 21, 2014

At last, parent resistance to collective standardized tests

WASHINGTON D.C —

Huge numbers of students must take high-stakes standardized tests that may shape the rest of their lives. These tests, however, take no account of the differences among the individual students. For particular examples, the tests don't recognize the students' home lives, or the visual or hearing problems that have impeded their learning. 

Those students often failing these tests are lower-income blacks and Hispanics, and students with special needs such as English language difficulties. But many other children fail them too.

Furthermore, many of these students who keep failing learn in school that they are dumb and drop out to begin dead-end lives.

But now, parents are actually reading about these tests and increasingly organizing against them. For example, as Bob Peterson, the President of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, commented on his blog last fall, "This year both the state and the school district have increased testing for four-, five-, six- and seven-year-old students in the district" ("Parent Opposition to Early Childhood Testing on the Increase," Bob Peterson, "Public Education: This is what democracy looks like," Oct. 1, 2013).

He went on to write about Milwaukee parent Jasmine Alinder, whose daughter was just starting kindergarten. Alinder, the president of Parents for Public Schools of Milwaukee, explained her frustrations in an essay she posted to Facebook, which Peterson quoted extensively from.

Alinder wrote: "MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing for five-year-olds does not test math and reading competency. At best it tests patience and computer literacy, which is more likely an indication of computer access at home.

"At worst it creates a culture of stress and frustration around standardized testing that may scar some of these children for the rest of their school careers" ("A Parent's View: MAP Testing of Five-Year-Old Kindergartners," Jasmine Alinder, Sept. 25, 2013).

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