Saturday, February 21, 2015

MORE/CTS Katie Lapham at Anthony Cody's Living in Dialogue - Excessive Standardized Testing in First Grade is No Fairy Tale

We're proud of MORE's fearless, outspoken teachers like MORE former steering committee member Katie Lapham joining current MORE steering committee member Jia Lee in making a national splash. 
A Tale of Two Public Education Systems 
.....the excessive testing of students in grades K-2 is not happening at every NYC school. My daughter was not given mid-year benchmark assessments at her public school, which is committed to teaching the whole child. I suspect that schools with the lowest test scores – and therefore the biggest “achievement gap” to close – as well as weak parent involvement and a high poverty rate are the ones most susceptible to over-testing. Fearing potential school closure, administrators likely want to show the NYC Department of Education that they took all the “right” steps in preparing students – beginning in kindergarten- for the high-stakes Common Core state tests administered in grades 3-8. .... While some state and city mandates are uniform – such as the administration of April’s Common Core state tests – schools with highly educated and relatively affluent parents tend to offer more of a project-based, arts-rich education. Test prep exists but not to the same extent as in Title I schools like mine, and resources are available for enrichment programs.
Katie Laphan writes of the incessant testing in 1st grade at Anthony Cody's Living in Dialogue blog. Anthony introduces her piece:

In 2013, I shared a post written by a New York City elementary teacher, entitled “Data Shows Not Enough Teaching.” She is back today with an update, and although there has been a change in administration in New York City, testing at her school is excessive as ever. Katie Lapham teaches first grade in New York City. You can read more of her work at her blog, Critical Classrooms, Critical Kids.

Katie's article elicited this response from another MORE member:

I experienced this same kind of testing with my 2nd graders last year. We had to also give mid-terms as well as all the Go math tests and running records (students actually enjoy reading with the teacher 1 on 1). We had to mostly create them and then get approval from the principal. The writing mid-term was a practice MOSL with a read aloud and copied book for students to read individually. Besides the running records that often take 30-40 minutes per child in second grade, we had to find passages from sample test prep books for a multiple choice test. I think we also used an old EPAL test that had a reading passage and questions that students had to write in sentences. Of course there was also a midterm test for science and social studies. We tested everyday for a long time. These tests were required K-5. Unfortunately too many teachers don't have a problem with this. No one else in my school spoke up besides me. Upper grade teachers think that lower grade teachers are "slacking off" so they think all the testing in the lower grades it great.
With no leadership from the UFT and NYSUT towards educating the members and the public on the evils of testing (witness the New Jersey Teacher union's ads that do just that) it is no wonder that so many teachers are unconscious about the dangers of testing to their kids and ultimately to their own careers.

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