Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Answer to Lack of Social Studies Instruction More Tests?

I was reading the Omaha World Herald this morning this story has me riled up:
Teachers say social studies suffers

As I was reading I totally agreed with the thoughts that Social Studies is being put on the back burner to focus more on the numerous amount of state testing that is done. I also agree wholeheartedly with the dire ramifications this will have on the next generation of Americans and what that means to the citizenship of our country.

Then I hit this paragraph, "Several board members agreed that social studies, which includes the study of history and geography, are being crowded out of the classroom. But the only way to put them on a level playing field with math and reading would be to require a state social studies test."

Really? The answer to the problem is to throw more state testing at the students and teachers? Really?

Teachers and students are already so overwhelmed with state/standardized testing that true teaching and creativity is being lost!

The No Child Left Behind Act and its excessive focus on testing has depleted the schools of true learning. Teachers are so focused on meeting those test goals and focusing only on those narrowed skills that they don't have the time to really teach and let students use their minds, imagination, and creativity.  Now many states (not NE) are adding in the Common Core Standards that adds a whole other dimension to the paperwork and hoops that teachers need to jump through. From various blogs and forums I read I see post after post of exasperated teachers that simply just want to teach again. They are so fed up with the testing and standards that are supposed to "fix" the system! Also in a climate of more and more budget cuts schools simply can't afford to spend on all this testing. Testing students costs a fortune! Wouldn't the money be better spent on additional teachers and smaller class sizes?


These educational bureaucrats are as messed up as Congress is. Sadly it is the future generations of Americans that will pay for it. As an educator that upsets me, as a parent that makes me very angry! I am sick and tired of these so called "experts" stealing my children's learning opportunities. How many of them have actually stood in front of a classroom for a school year and worked with children? It is outrageous!

The most successful teaching years I have experienced were when I had a principal with the philosophy that as college educated certified teachers we were qualified to teach. Unless he saw a problem he stepped back and let us do our job as we saw fit. He knew that we knew these kids better than any administrator or board member and he knew we would strive to take these kids as far as we could. In those years my students blossomed the most and they achieved the most. In my experience the more the board or administration gets involved the less the children succeed. Teachers are trained professionals. We have college degrees, many of them advanced. We take ongoing development courses throughout our career and we are there in the classroom every day, the closest to the student outside of their parents. We are educated, we are qualified. Let us do our jobs and teach! Save the money and the American education system and scrap all this unnecessary and excessive testing!

ETA: Here's an interesting article about a study that shows creativity is declining in our students. They discuss the overuse of testing as a possible culprit. How long are we going to let this go on?
Not your imagination: Kids today really are less creative, study says


4 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised that some see more testing as the solution. Some people seem to think that testing is the answer to everything in education. They are looking for a bottom line, but we are working with children, not numbers. No matter how hard they try they cannot take children out of the equation, so therefore "they" (the powers that be) will never get the numbers crunched and lined up into neat little rows, but until they realize this, we are doomed with more testing. It's sad really.

    ❀Lisa
    Effective Teaching Articles Blog

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  2. Lisa I totally agree with you. Too many think the education system can be run like a corporation (and they do such a good job there too) and it just can't. Like you said children add too many variables. The teachers that are there everyday with the kids are the ones who are the most familiar with these variables and are the best equipped to make the needed adjustments. Throwing more tests at the problem will do nothing but more harm!

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  3. This is exactly what's happening. Total focus was on reading & math, in elementary school, and so, just as was predicted and expected, everything else was pushed out (science, social studies, even writing). But now look at those middle-school test scores, ouch! How to compel elementary teachers to restore the curriculum? Since all incentives now focus on test results, add more tests.

    It's also disturbing to see how focus has shifted to "testable and frequently tested" content standards, while more complex or difficult-to-test standards are pushed out.

    The pressure comes from the big corporate foundations, who pushed the NCLB/RTTT laws, which forced the DoE to force states to force districts to force principals to force teachers to "teach to the test."

    I considered running for my local school board a few years ago, but discovered that school boards really have no genuine authority or power. Isn't that really what the school board members were saying in the article? They can't order district administrators to order teachers to restore social studies (or science) to the curriculum -- in theory, they could, but all the incentives would still rest on reading and math, and schools that restored a balanced curriculum would surely be labeled as "failing" after the next testing cycle.

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  4. It really is sad isn't it Mark! The thing that really upset me about the article was the fact that it wasn't the school board, but the Board of Education for the state of Nebraska. What they were saying really is the only answer was more tests but they don't have enough money right now to implement them. Thank goodness for that I guess!

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