Thursday, June 14, 2007

Standardized Testing is "Sucking the Soul Out of the Primary School Experience"

Karen Taylor from the California Homeschool Network gave a heads-up to an excellent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle a couple of weeks ago entitled "Let children be children: Is your 5 year old stressed out because too much is expected?" by veteran teacher Penelope Bevan. Ms. Bevan writes:
"We've just finished test time again in the schools of California. The mad frenzy of testing infects everyone from second grade through high school. Because of the rigors and threats of No Child Left Behind, schools are desperate to increase their scores. As the requirements become more stringent, we have completely lost sight of the children taking these tests."
She decries the developmentally inappropriateness of the new curriculum that focuses so much time on preparing for standardized tests and not enough on
"the happy messiness of paint, clay, Tinkertoys and jumping rope, the quiet discovery of a shiny new book of interest to them, the wonders of a magnifying glass."
She worries about the impact the constant academic pressure has on her students' souls. Are they being deprived of "the joy that comes but once in their lifetime"?

I certainly believe children should receive an education that is academically challenging, but in a developmentally appropriate manner. Endless worksheets, rote memorization drills, and standardized tests are not going to help build children's minds. Instead, they need exposure to the best literature, art, music, and the great narratives of history; hands-on exploration of God's creation; lots of time for creative art and imaginative play; and so on. Activities that are going to engage them in learning, not make them overly stressed.

To be fair, test scores have risen modestly since NCLB was signed into law. The $64,000 question is at what cost to children's souls?


philip said...

Agreed 100%!

Children are minds, bodies, and souls...souls, minds, and bodies...and we have reduced "educated" to simple mental tasks.

We will all pay the price for lopsided children.

I hope you will consider signing our petition and asking your friends and neighbors to do the same...

Thank you for your insight,

Donny and Marie and Casey said...

Mommy wonders about this too, even tho she has no kids (at the moment).

Thanks for stopping by my blog for Thursday 13. That was very cool to learn about your cat! I like high places too.

pjd said...

I am 100% with you on this one.

Test scores have risen... but who knows why? Is it because the greater budgetary emphasis placed on test scores has teachers "teaching to the tests"? I think so.

When all students are judged solely by standardized tests, then what you get are standardized children.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

You ended with:" what price to children's souls?"

You have a very good point.

And I would add, what price are we paying with regard to their bodies (no recess, etc) as well as their minds (no inquiry, exploration, curiosity allowed).

And of course, we know the price to the taxpayer's pocketbooks and who prospers.