Policy Issues

I was tagged in a twitter post this afternoon from the most amazing Kas Nelson (@kasnelson – you should follow her).

It got my brain thinking, then a range of emotions flooded in, mostly anger.

This is the pic from the tweet:

Twitter - Kas

Here is something that cannot be stressed enough to those who are not living inside the education system everyday – we do what we are legislated to do.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate pass laws concerning education, and teachers are required by law, to follow those laws.

This particular student is referencing the mandatory testing of 8 and 9 year olds in reading.  If they do not pass the reading test, then they must repeat the 3rd grade.  It is the law.  I have a third grader this year, she is already talking about her test she needs to pass.  Third graders should NEVER, EVER have to worry about a test.  NEVER. EVER.

One of the biggest problems with this reading test, is the fact that the test is not totally a reading test.  To my understanding, it is made up of two separate parts, and you can actually pass the reading portion and fail the test.  Please correct me in the comments if this is incorrect – I never lived in the third grade world…

Here is the other problem – students learn things at different rates.  I have three of my own children and they all learned to ride a bike at different ages.  They learned to walk at different ages and they learned to talk at different ages.  They are each unique and different.  They are not clones that reach specific learning markers on specific dates after birth.

The next key thing is that test grades are becoming more intertwined with teacher evaluation.  That creates a pressure situation for a teacher to ensure that all of her/his 3rd graders pass.  As adults we try really hard to not pass those stresses onto our students.  Guess what?  Students notice.

For those out there clamoring that our educational system is failing – I would ask you to examine exactly what is failing?  Maybe it is the policy that has been created that is failing our students and our teachers.

Rant over…continue with regularly schedule programming…

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