A school year of high-stakes testing is upon us again, and the number of families refusing to allow their children to participate continues to grow. Education experts around the country have come forward to speak out against the use of standardized tests to evaluate children. Some states have even passed student assessment laws to help parents understand their rights about the testing and to make them aware of their legislative options.
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) is not as forthright with information to parents about the use of these mandated tests.
Public Education activist Kevin Griffin believes parents have the right to updated and accurate information about the tests from ODE, and they have the right to choose what’s best for their children. Kevin recently presented at Public Education Partners’ statewide education summit, PUBLIC EDUCATION MATTERS, and he informed attendees about Ohio’s high-stakes tests and parents’ options about testing. http://keving722.blogspot.com/2015/10/ohio-public-education-partners-common.html
A concise but poignant resource about high-stakes testing debacle is a popular children’s book called Hooray for Diffendoofer Day. This picture book was primarily created by Theodor Seuss Geisel, but he died before he was able to complete it. Adding to Dr. Seuss’s original work, author Jack Prelutsky and illustrator Lane Smith finished the fable in 1991.
This insightful book is about an out-of-the-box kind of school staffed by appropriately named workers, such as the nurse, Miss Clotte, the custodian, Mr. Plunger, and three cooks named McMunch. Diffendoofer School teachers provide inquiry-based lessons mingled with some important skills not found on any list of standards:
Miss Bobble teaches listening, Miss Wobble teaches smelling,
Miss Fribble teaches laughing, and Miss Quibble teaches yelling.
The quirkiest teacher of all is the main character in the book:
My teacher is Miss Bonkers, she’s as bouncy as a flea.
I’m not certain what she teaches, but I’m glad she teaches me.
Of all the teachers in our school, I like Miss Bonkers best.
Our teachers are all different, but she’s different-er than the rest.
One day, Diffendoofer’s worried little principal, Mr. Lowe, makes a special announcement:
All schools for miles and miles around must take a special test,
To see who’s learning such and such- to see which school’s the best.
If our small school does not do well, then it will be torn down,
And you will have to go to school in dreary Flobbertown.
Like most of the children in Ohio public schools, Diffendoofer students stress out at the thought of taking such a high-stakes test, and they fret about the prospect of being removed from their beloved school and forced to attend a different school in dreary Flobbertown, where everyone does everything the same.
They continue to agonize over the test, until Miss Bonkers reminds them:
“Don’t fret,” she said, “you’ve learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more- I’m certain you’ll succeed.
We’ve taught you that the earth is round, that red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more- we’ve taught you how to think.”
Miss Bonkers is right, and the students get the very highest score and pass the dreaded test using background knowledge, combined with the thinking skills they acquired through a variety of innovative activities at Diffendoofer School.
Ohio’s reliance on high-stakes tests to evaluate students, teachers, and public schools has forced many districts to re-focus their budgets on curricula that will help teach for the test. It’s not a coincidence that the same educational companies that profit from the testing resources also contribute to the campaigns of many of the legislators who sponsor the corporate ed reform laws.
In this test-driven era, Art, Music, and Physical Education have already been slashed in many school districts to free up funding for the state-mandated exams. Ohio’s GOP-controlled State Board of Education eliminated the “5 of 8” minimal school staffing rule to make it easier for cash-strapped districts to eliminate art, music and physical education teachers, as well as nurses, library media specialists, guidance counselors, and social workers.
Unfortunately, limiting the programming to align with the tests will eventually lead to more schools like dreary Flobbertown, where everyone does everything the same.
Legislators need to think about the real world implications of what Dr. Seuss figured out more than two decades ago.
High-stakes testing is taking its toll on our children, as well as chipping away at the institution of public education.
All for the benefit of profiteers who fund political campaigns…
We are many. There is power in our numbers. Together we will save PUBLIC EDUCATION.