I was in a kindergarten classroom this morning where children are not allowed to make any noise for two and a half hours each day for three days for fear of disturbing the testing classrooms next door. Instead of their usual greetings, sharing, mingling during their creative projects, and moving about the room – the way kindergarteners and other students need to do – they are watching videos. Instead of engaging in rich curricular work, they sit silently at tables.
Kindergarten is not tested in this school.
But the kindergarteners are. Their experiences are yet another one of the “unintended consequences” of a high-stakes testing regime in our country. And they know the “big kids” are taking a “big test” and everything needs to be silent. So the kids taking tests can’t think of anything but the tests – and the kids supporting the “silence” for the test takers can’t think of anything but the tests.
More “collateral damage” done by the billion dollar testing machine wreaking havoc in our schools and on our future as an educated, engaged democracy.
We know tests are biased and advantage students from English-speaking, White middle-class and affluent homes.
We know schools and teachers have narrowed curricula to focus explicitly on the high-stakes test-preparation areas of reading and math often leaving behind science, social studies, language development, fine arts, physical education, and project-based experiences.
We know children vomit on testing days, teachers have insomnia, and principals are stressed to the max.
We know children, teachers, principals, and parents cry when a score comes back only 1 or 2 points below proficient.
We know test-preparation has dumbed down curricula and bored our students (and teachers) to death.
We know so much more…
WHY DO WE KEEP DOING THIS?!
I modestly propose three steps toward change:
1. Find colleagues and community members to read and discuss Collateral Damage
2. Contact your local, state, and federal representatives and encourage them to read Collateral Damage (perhaps we could even buy an extra copy to send out to folks – or photocopy the first chapter and mail to them)
3. Start a local, grassroots campaign to “End High-Stakes Testing and AYP Sanctions”
Find some others concerned about the same issues: