Thursday, March 30, 2006

Standardized Tests for Good and Ill

First the good. There has been a lot of criticism for No Child Left Behind, but Joanne Jacobs is emphasizing a positive:
In response to No Child Left Behind, schools are cutting history, science and electives to focus on teaching reading and math to low achievers, reports the New York Times.
Downtown College Prep, the charter high school in my book, Our School, realized in its first year that students couldn't read well enough to understand the algebra textbooks, much less history or science. Eventually, the school put way-behind ninth graders in a reading class, in addition to English 1, and a numeracy class, in addition to algebra, deferring history and science teaching.
She and several commenters go on to talk about how deferring science for those with problems in more fundamental skills is a Good Thing. You can't teach someone to run before they can walk. You need to be able to read and do basic math befoer you can truly tackle science, civics, history, geography, etc. This is something many schools have forgotten in order to make learning more "fun" for the students.

Now the ill, Delaware's take of paying for performance is lacking according to Hube:
Delaware has an idea where some 20% of a teacher's evaluation (and pay raise) would be based on students' DSTP reading, writing and math scores ... no matter what subject you teach. That's right. And I teach Spanish. Yet, 20% of my performance evaluation would be based on my school's students' DSTP scores! Can someone explain to me how this makes any sense?
It doesn't make sense to me, nor does Delaware's whole DSTP program when superior testing instruments are available and less costly than the Delaware program.

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