I'm giving the HSGQE today. (High School Grade Qualifying Exam). Not only is this entire experience foreign, uncomfortable and forced for many students, its excruciatingly long and boring. It has a Reading, Writing, and Math component and this year they are trial running the Science portion.
On one side of the coin I think it is important that people know certain things for them to rightfully earn a high school diploma and be a functioning adult. No Child Left Behind has devoloped standards and fail safes to check and make sure that not only to students know their stuff but that teachers are qualified and are actually teaching these skills and content.
The other side of the issue is where I tend to sit. I don't think its wrong to have standards for our kids. I just want to know who's writing these standards, who chooses and deems what is worthwhile knowledge, and who is making all the buttload of cash off of giving tests like the HSGQE, WASL, ACT, SAT, and others.
When I see a state that writes standards on how to grow your own garden, recycle, conserve energy, express creativity, stay physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally fit, and communicate with others peacefully and treat people fairly, then I'll support that state test. I will get behind that one and be strict about it. But this piece meal, unimportant assesement makes me sick. My kids can read, my kids can write, my kids can do math, but no one wants to do this kind of reading/writing/math sitting in silence writing on a peace of paper(and lord knows, science is falling under this too).
I have very high standards for my kids (and I recognize that others might not thus needing a check and balance system like state testing) but I think that these test are totally bogus. At least if they are gonna ask our kids about mostly useless mumbo jumbo they should do it online and let the kids type their answers and click the right ones. I mean, that is how our kids read and write, on the computer. I'm so sick of old ways and people fearing the new people will always know how to write, but we rarely do anymore, I'm not saying abandon it, but seriously let the kids be assessed in a forum they are comfortable with you elitist old curmudgeon assholes!
I got into a little debate with a colleague a week or so ago about this very topic. Parents want their kids to succeed in life, and apparently graduating high school is really important, it gives you a nice piece of paper that basically stamps you on the forehead with the other cattle as another American who has been socialized the same way as everyone else, Home Room, homecoming, prom, jocks, cheerleaders, science fairs, cafeterias, bullies, we all went through these experiences. Rarely do schools actually teach the skills, attitudes and real needs of people transitioning toward adult hood.
SO if school isn't actually a place to learn stuff (because most people don't remember what they learned in school, more so how they felt about it when they 'learned' it), but rather a place to get initiated into the national populace's consciousness, then why do we test our kids on stuff. Why aren't our standards about how to fill out a job application, or how to balance a bank account, or how to budget your money, or how to raise a baby, or how to get a home loan or apply to college, or how to vote, or how to actually do something useful for a change.
Its madness. What we test our students on says a lot about where our nations values lie. And after one day of testing I think our nations values in what people should know in order to graduate is seriously off kilter.
That doesn't mean I don't prepare my kids, it does mean that I prepare my kids harder, because...
Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, so that you can earn the freedom to do what ever you want.
1 day of testing down, 3 to go. BLEH!!!