Wednesday, April 8, 2009

STATE TESTING Comment Response

Yesterday during my state testing rant someone (anonymously how brave of you) commented this plebeian little turd nugget:

"It's funny to read about teachers hyperventilating about standardized tests. You'd think if they were doing their jobs properly there wouldn't be anything to worry about. But nothing really seems to wind them up more than the thought of having someone check to make sure they're actually doing what taxpayers are paying them to do. I wonder why that is?"

I take offense to this comment on so many levels. This comment represents so much that is wrong with America and American mentality that I have to respond to it.

First the comment states that if teachers were "doing their jobs properly there wouldn't be anything to worry about." This is such a fucked up thing to say. Mostly because if teachers were doing their jobs "properly" to the states letter, following the state standards exactly, doing exactly what the government wanted them to, then we would have a nation of commercialistic, materialistic, anglo-saxon, white ethnocentric, robotic, android, non freethinking, non creative, non common sense having idiots, cheeseburger eating, boners the likes of which have run our country into the ground. (oh yeah the people who made up this whole effing idea really did a great job with the whole Iraq thing, oh yeah and the economy is great too thanks politicians).

Then this"the thought of having someone check to make sure they're actually doing what taxpayers are paying them to doI think" if the taxpayers even read the "standards" that these "state tests" are assessing (which I guarantee you they don't and even in the smallest chance that they did wouldn't understand them anyway because they themselves are the product of moron america) then they might not be so happy about what the government wants to require teachers to teach.

Furthermore, if I was a English as a second language speaker or a minority of any ethnicity (and a taxpayer ) I would be pissed because the standards and the test are written in an elitist white academic language that culturally excludes everyone of non middle class caucasian descent. Having just administered this test to Native Alaskan Eskimo teenagers I think I can safely say that these tests are not culturally responsible and exclude certain populations simply by race alone.

Unfortunately I think that whoever made this comment severely miss read what I was saying. In fact when I went back to re read what I wrote yesterday every paragraph made me feel as if the comment and the thought behind it didn't even really comprehend the paragraphs and what they were saying.

Now, that being said, I'm not "hyperventilating" or "wound" up because someone/the government is checking in on me. I know some good teachers out there, but there are far more by lazy, union hours only working, staff and pedagogy development refusing, outdated practice having teachers. Trust me, teachers need to be monitored, especially in Bush Alaska.

The thing is I'm not one of those. I am a kick ass teacher. I know this.

What I am is: upset. After having to read through an entire State Graduating Test on Reading yesterday because of Special Education Accommodations/Modifications of my test takers I am disgusted and ashamed to even be part of the system of education. If this test, these tests, are what the state and the taxpayers and the educators of the state of Alaska deem is the pinnacle of knowledge and thinking necessary to receive a high school diploma (the mark of a person ready to be a citizen, person, and worker in America) then I am in the wrong profession. It was culturally insensitive, pointless, completely impractical and did not address any of the real literacy skills that teen agers actually possess. Yesterday I was embarrassed to be a teacher, not because of my lack of instruction or quality of job execution, but because of the umbrella of racism and elitism that I operate under as an educator in America.

If you would like to continue commenting on my blog and making comments such as the one highlighted above I would suggest you slap a name on the end of the comment otherwise I will take offense to it seeing as how I have provided my name and you the reader come here of your own free will.

You wouldn't go into someones home with a mask on, and make fun of their family photos and values so don't come into my home anonymously and make comments about my beliefs unless you yourself would like to be identified.

Thank You for reading.

10 comments:

Mr. Kale Iverson said...

IN FACT:

Here is a conversation I had today about this topic exactly.


Friend: I think that you raise some very very good points
such as teaching to the test in a way that encourages acculturation

however one thing that I wish you had included is that the state of alaska does have cultural standards for their students and the saddest thing is that they are often overlooked you know what I mean?

Kale Iverson:
yes i do, i thought about that

Friend:
so we end up teaching this test
and missing teh boat on the fact that we ARE required by the state
to teach culture and meet cultural standards as well

and yes, people who sign blog comments anonymously, suck especially when they criticized your thoughts, ideas or beliefs

I also believe quite strongly that high stakes testing for ANY student is silly because there are so many extraneous variables that go into test taking and determine whether a student passes a test or not
and it's f-ing dumb that based on a test we give or not give a kid a diplomoa especiialy kids that so desperately NEED a diploma

and yes something has to be done about the language of the test
because we spend trillions of dollars on a war in Iraq we don't have the money that we need to develop tests that are culturally and language appropriate to our specific students cause it's expensive to write tests and build bombs and our country has definitely decided which one is more important

Reese-E said...

Actually, funny that you mention Rosarito today, because we just made plans TODAY to go for the last weekend in May to celebrate Brianne and Carina's bday. Any chance you'll be done with school by then? If so, you're def invited!

Anonymous said...

"... and it's f-ing dumb that based on a test we give or not give a kid a diplomoa [sic] especiialy [sic] kids that so desperately NEED a diploma..."

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Yeah. Standardized tests are, like, really dumb, Man. Who cares if little Johnny can't read. Just give him a diploma. He _needs_ it.

Domnule Ortgiesen said...

I know what you mean, it really makes me feel like a government agent in a way, although we both work for the government... Anyway, not that I couldn't agree more with you, I think when your thoughts and ideas come under fire, its in the rising to the challenge of justifying and expressing these beliefs in a rational manner which only bolster your own stance and knowledge is gained as a result.

Mr. Kale Iverson said...

anonymous commenter strikes again!

you are a very insecure person to not fess up like everyone else. identify, be proud of yourself for challenging some persons free thoughts!

that conversation was over Skype so excuse the spelling, luckily I think any person can still understand what it said, and no you shouldn't just give a kid a diploma...

What it was referring to (once again demonstrating your lack of comprehension skills) is that a "TEST" determines the diploma, we all NEED diplomas because American society has said that you have to have one or else you'll have egg on your face for all of eternity. But a test shouldn't be what makes or breaks you, its one day in the life of a kid. What if the kid got beat the night before, what if the kid was getting stoned the night before, what if the kid didn't eat dinner or breakfast or broke up with their girlfriend? One test! Give me a break.

And if a TEST is what is going to determine it the TEST should at least be culturally appropriate.

So, like, um, dude, I still think you are way off, like um, base...dude.

Like LOL OMG LMFAO do you know what those mean? Teens can read, they have literacy skills that a lot of old farts don't, they can also blog, communicate online, use cell phones and do a lot of other things that old people shit their pants over. Our kids can read, they do everyday, but as an adult how often are you forced to sit down for 6 straight hours and read something out of a scary ass pamphlet that has no bearing on your life that will determine how your future goes?

What are you thinking?

IDK...

Erin said...

My say on this...

It's good to have standards and to hold kids up to those standards. I believe in that. I think that ALL students regardless of race, culture, religion or whatever language they speak should be aware of the standards they need to shoot for and it is our duty as educators to do everything we can to have them meet those standards. That means, much of the time, that teachers need to figure out ways to meet the needs of ALL their learners...not just the ones who are good at taking paper and pencil tests. Some teachers do this and others are still approaching education in an archaic manner. This second type of teacher stands in front of their class (or maybe sits at their computer playing games all day) and either lectures incessantly or has students read and answer literal comprehension questions. At the end of the class the teacher collects the answers to the questions, marks the majority of them wrong and then heads into the lounge for a cup of coffee and a bitch session about how the kids will "never be able to do ...." or "that they just don't care" or that "they will never be successful". The reality is that the student isn't failing, it's the teacher that failing.

What I disagree with is that so much is based on the results of these tests. It is important for a student to get a high school diploma. Gone are the days of just showing up and sitting in class and being handed a diploma just so the teachers don't have to look at you the following year. That's not a bad thing. However, we cannot replace seat time with an inauthentic way of assessing students. The reality is, not many students who cannot pass the HSGQE will go on to study for a GED. They will simply fade away into the background and the cycle will continue.

I'm not sure what it's like in other schools but every year we sit down and analyze how students did on their standardized tests. There are graphs and charts and percentages and numbers and then we conclude what the student needs more help in. What we disregard are the projects, the portfolios, the in class discussions and all the other evidence that a student does "know" these things. We only look at the results from the standardized test. Should we really be basing a person's knowledge and skills on the results of just one test?

Susan Iverson said...

It's easy to comment when no one knows who you are. Kale, your grandmother would be very proud of you. Before she retired from teaching after 26 years, she fought this same battle over the standardized tests that existed back then. As I remember it, she was every bit as passionate about it as you are. I believe that teachers like you who truly want the "education" of our youth to happen need to continue your passion, regardless of what nameless people think, who refuse to identify themselves or give any slight attempt at understanding the ideals you are propounding. Education should not be about how to pass any given test but about how to learn what is important to your life and to be able to apply it in that life now and in the future. Obviously that includes little Johnny's ability to read and conduct other basic functions of life but does that mean that little Johnny has to be able to calculate how far a train travels from point a to point b at any given speed limit? I don't think so. And should that be the standard for a diploma? You are right, anonymous is wrong. Don't sweat it and keep doing what you are doing.

Corinna said...

You bought up quite a lot to chew on in both posts. I can only comment based on my own experience...

I was generally a total piece of shit in high school and couldn't care less about classes. Fortunately I can read and write and was never concerned about passing the WASL. Although in 6th grade I did fail a standardized test because my vocabulary in English did not yet include such words as "compass" or "denominator."

When I was in classes with teachers who did not care, I did not care and was not convinced that their assignments would improve my knowledge in any way. In that sense, good teachers make a huge difference. Those are the ones I remember and paid attention to.

On a different token, the majority of the lessons I took away from HS were "life" lessons. And social lessons. Here's how to not be a jackass. Things like that.

And much of the knowledge that's needed in the world and that's not particularly promoted in school indicates to me that we're operating under the assumption that everyone has good, responsible parents. That is so appallingly far from true.

So what do we do? I don't know. I'm comfortable knowing there's a Kale Iverson teaching kids (in addition to reading) how to compost, be financially responsible and avoid teenage pregnancies. Keep it up!

Corinna said...

PS. I love that "turd nugget" made its way into your post.

Anonymous said...

First, as to the anonymous posting issue, if you don't like it, you should disable the option. It's silly to open your blog up to anonymous comments and then complain when someone uses it.

Second, I used to work in the field before I left for greener pastures years ago. Having made some money, I sometimes think about returning to the "profession" -- if only long enough to stick my head in the teachers' lounge and point out a) what a hard time most would have in the real world were performance standards are the norm and b) that if they spent half as much time preparing their lessons as they do whinging about how terrible they think it is to actually have someone check up on their students' progress, nobody would ever have to ask why little Johnny can't read.

to view my other blog OUT OF THE CLOSET ATHEIST click HERE