How the Newest High-Stakes Tests Are Stealing the Joy of Reading from Our Kids

What do you think of this...?
In this post, a teacher speaks up about some of the reasons why kids are losing out in education today.

How the Newest High-Stakes Tests Are Stealing the Joy of Reading from Our Kids

Even beautiful pieces of literature become lifeless vehicles to teach dry, decontextualized skills. 

Close reading example

It begins with this, "Editor's note: As implementation of the Common Core State Standards continues nationwide, teachers are increasingly speaking out about how these standards, and the assessments that come along with them, are impacting their students. In 13 states this spring, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (or PARCC) standardized test will be deployed to measure student mastery of the Common Core curriculum; already, many educators have made their concerns known. Katie Osgood, a special education teacher in Chicago, is joining their ranks with this powerful piece about what, precisely, we steal from students when we ask them to spend their days focused on test-prep alone."
Teachers are often scared to speak up about the political/corporate take over of our schools. They often love and need their jobs, and worry about offending the wrong people. The good news is that more and more are sharing their experiences, and allowing the public to decide for themselves.

"My school is drowning under the ridiculous Common Core Standards. Everything I know to do to inspire my students is forbidden. Instead, we are forced to deliver truly horrible curriculum in developmentally inappropriate ways, with pacing charts that move so fast all our heads are spinning. My students with special needs are shutting down, acting out or just giving up entirely. Sometimes I hear them whisper, 'I hate school'— and they are right to think that. All the teachers are upset, and every time we ask "Why? Why are you making us do this?" the answer is always the same: PARCC is coming."
FYI: "In addition to the active governing board states, Pennsylvania is a “participating” state, which means that it is interested in the consortium’s activities, but has made no decision about using the PARCC assessments." Not sure what the difference is, but betcha Pearson is involved with all of the assessments.

"The kids are right to think that..."  
Kids are so much smarter than politicians and corporate business people think. If your kids are shutting down, dig deeper to find out why. We parents must demand real teaching - high quality, creative, engaging, individualized instruction done by humans - not computer programs.
Since this is a "one-size-fits-all" model of education, it makes little difference if you are in a tree-lined suburban, blue ribbon school or an inner city, underfunded school. It all sounds errily similar: "I cannot believe how we are warping the experience of reading for these children. Sometimes we are told to do a "close read" of stirring passages about the Underground Railroad for the sole purpose of pulling out the main idea and supporting details. We don't actually talk about the Underground Railroad, letting the horror of slavery sink in. No, it's simply about getting the skill, so the kids can demonstrate the same skill on the dreaded test. What a ridiculous disservice. I still remember my fourth-grade teacher reading us a novel on Harriet Tubman and how that story was one of my first understandings of true injustice. We were inspired to create art projects, to write poetry, to pull out further texts on slavery from our library. We had class discussions. We wrote letters. We felt the text come alive. Our kids are not getting anything remotely like that experience—because of PARCC."
Check out this amazing book linked below about how the way reading is taught can actually cause kids to hate reading:

"This type of readicide is not new; schools under high-stakes accountability have been forced into this twisted form of reading instruction for many years. But things are getting worse, so much worse. Thanks to PARCC. Any chance that kids get to become enthralled in a story, to become spellbound by a fictional world, to be pulled into the past through powerful prose, is done through teachers secretly stealing time for that wonderment. It is not in the standards. It won't be on the test. And it's definitely not in PARCC. "

Keep an eye on the level of engagement and joy your kids are experiencing in school, and be sure to speak up if you notice a change. Skills are certainly important, but creating classrooms where a love of learning and content are taught may be even more dire. There truly is an art to teaching. It involves genuinely caring about kids, creativity, a strong understanding of developmental psychology & content knowledge, modeling of passion for the content, and often a sense of humor!

We all know better - one size never fits all. Demand the best for our kids, they deserve it.


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