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Laura Diaz

Educator, Omaha Public Schools

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Are excessive standardized state testing practices having an unforeseen negative effect?

My question stems from a conversation I had w/a teacher in an urban school under threat of closure due to low state tests. He said,"The schools that did well before mandates still do well.Ones that were low before,in some cases,are scoring even lower.Here,oversimplified,is what I see.First,we're not allowed to use state tests to grade students.Since the test has no personal impact on their grade the only students who care how they score are the ones that have parents holding them accountable.The state tests are abstract and mean nothing to them.Their is no concrete relevancy for them. Do well? So! Do poorly?So! To add even more mess to this we now have a majority of districts across the nation pushing 'no-zero' & 'no-fail' policies. Why get a good grade when all I want to do is pass anyway? The exams I give my students are based on best-practice, research driven formative and summative assessments.In other words,they have to master the lesson objective to pass them. That is MY standard. My unit exams are are sometimes more difficult than the state tests. And they pass them and do well! BUT,I will not pass them just for being a warm body.The states & districts pass them anyway & there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Ties my hands.Here we have our school possibly shutting down because of state tests. And it's not just our demographic!I 've seen hardworking AP students and college prep students when it comes to these tests click through without reading the question.Why? Because the test has no effect on them. If they do want to go to college they'll probably do well on the SAT& ACT because it'll matter.That's the thing.They are not stupid!They're prioritizing the craziness in their lives and putting effort into what matters. The socio-economic demographic they were born into slams them. If they didn't prioritize they wouldn't succeed.It seems to me that this state testing business,coupled with grading policies has fostered a fixed mindset resulting in apathy"

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    Feb 10 2014: As a recent high school graduate I personally know the negative affects of the dreaded standardized tests. The standardized test focuses on the teaching of useless information, which is what teaching should avoid. Teaching should help a student develop the skills to critically think without prompt, and should help train/develop the students brain rather than stuffing it with information they will never need. I believe the standardized test should go the way of the Dodo bird, and be replaced with more practical and real world tests.

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