Friday, April 20, 2007

Annotated Bibliography


Harvard Education Letter
For and Against Testing

Most people fall into one of four catagories in their view on standardized testing. 1) it's a good idea because they create incentives for students and teachers to meet high achievement standards. 2) it's a good idea because they help to ensure that students graduate with at least a basic understanding of basic academic skills. 3) it's a bad idea because it demoralizes the kids that do poorly and are biased racialy and ethnicly. 4) it's a bad idea because it encourages a curriculum based on memorizing facts and learning tricks to help you take tests.
Two of the most studied and contoversial testing programs are those of Texas and of Chicago.

Mothering, No More Tests!
Against Testing

Children's education has become a stress filled marathon of boredom, superficial learning and test taking. The Mass. MCA's take approxomatly seventeen hours to complete, and the test in California, the stanford 9's take up a whole two weeks of school!
However there is a growing movement against tests. One common method of keeping track of a students progress without tests is the use of portfolios. with out standardized tests, some scientists think, students of today would be able to be more creative.

Study texans favor exams
For Testing

This article has survey statistics from a statewide survey in texas on it. 55-61% of people look favorably upon standardized testing in schools. 66-72% believe that it is a good tool for mesuring accountability. 8-14% are undecided. 5-11% are against it.
Austin American Statesman
Against testing

Jamie Story gave a commentary that supported standardized tests and incentive pay. However, the author of this article disagrees. Incentive pay is linking teachers pay to student's test scores. 92% of teachers opposed to incentive pay according to a survey. Although a minority of teachers would benefit from the incentive pay, it would be better for most if the just got an $850 per year pay raise. Believes that the Houstan incentive plan is a failure. He then gives his idea of a better plan that he thinks would work.
Cheating on standardized tests blamed on flawed system
Mostly Against Testing

Standardized tests don't match up with the curriculum very well. the highest amount of overlap was 46% in a fifth grade science classroom. Lowest was 5%. Some teachers rsort to bending the rules of the tests to get around this disadvantage. Most school ditricts use student test scores as one criterion for evaluating teachers' preformance sometimes low preforming schools face harsh punishments. with the pressure to do good some teachers resort to cheating or a strategy known as "teaching to the test". Another problem is that only sixteen of the states have their own customized standardized test.

Tests That Count
For and Against Testing

Texas Chicago and New York City are being carefully watched by decision makers for both positve and negative lessons. Some parents and civil rights groups are challenging the tests on racial and equity, while some teachers are challenging the tests whether they actually improve learning or not. All the teachers teachers believe that they should be more aligned with the curriculum. dissagreements between states and school ditricts sometimes end up having the kids take two tests. High stake testing may be a large political issue in the near future. The turnaround in Texas is a great success story of how their standardized testing program transformed it from an educational backwater to "a model of equity, progress and acountability. In Chicago another miracle story of how their high stakes program greatly improved teir school district. However New York City had a dimsal expirience with high stakes testing.

A Concentrated approach to exams
Mostly Against Testing

According to this article, the principal of Wood Middle School in Rockville decided to get a list of students and crossed off the names of students that the teachers knew would pass the test, and those that the teachers thought had no chance of passing the test. Those that were left would be the ones that recieved 45 minutes of test prep class four days a week. by focusing on these students the school hoped to raise the pass rate significantly. Many educators believe that this kind of test-prep is now a common practice in many schools across the nation. Another principal said that she fears losing her job if her schools scores on standardized tests aren't adequate for too long. One school got a 68% pass rate which is higher than the state average of 65%, but they didn't make adequate progress so they were punnished anyways.

After Gary Strike, Test Looms
Against Testing

Just two weeks after the start of classes after the Gary teachers strike ended the 10th grade students of Gary Indiana, will have to take the ISTEP, the state standardized test. Gary had already ranked one of the lowest in the state on test scores. One of the reasons the teachers went on strike had to do with the testing. One said,"We are either preparing for a test, coming out of a test, or reviewing a test. This has got to stop!" One of the students tells that he's fine with everything about high school, except the test and it gets harder every year.
Standardized tests: do they ultimately help or hurt students?
More Against than For Testing

Modern day students are being taught test tricks rather than actual knowledge. Also there a often many differences in what the students learn and what they are actually tested on. Since
students success and teachers pay are often linked with standardized tests it is understandable that the teachers stop teaching their curriculum and work on test prep before an upcoming test. This hurts the students more than it helps them since they arent learning valuable skills or knowledge. Some teachers are even being forced to give up their plans so they can prepare the students for the tests ahead. In one school they started preparations three months in advance and stopped their lesson plans in the process. Across the nation students and teachers are getting rewarded or punnished based on the scores of their standardized tests. Since the test have a great influence on the future of the students they a practicaly forced to prep for them. There are some parents, tachers and lawmakers in favor of standardized testing. the intense pressure to do well on these tests has driven some teachers and students to cheating. Most people think that standardized testing doesnt need to be removed, but should be used on an informative basis not to make important decisions about people.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Best Place R.A.F.T.

I've been to a lot of places. However there is one place where I would like to spend my time more than anywhere else. It is just the best place to relax when I am all stressed out over school, homework, and varios other things that I have to do all the time. It also allows me to just get away from my siblings when I need it most. On top of that its walls are painted with my two favorite colors (black and silver). On one wall there is a window through which one can see a beautiful view of the St. Croix river valley off in the distance. On the window is a set of blackout shades so that almost no light enters the room, allowing me to sleep (since I can't sleep if there is any light at all). On the ceiling is a bunch of golden glitter, and when the light is on they sparkle like the stars. One of the walls is painted with a picture of the solar system, some of which you can no longer see because there is a wooden shelf in the way. This place is definetly one of the best places in the world!