School testing: the "high-stakes" testing falls short 2011.09.08

Written by David Green.

Congratulations are in order to Fayette’s school staff and students for achieving an “excellent” ranking through Ohio’s education department. Similarly, Morenci staff and students have shown a strong standing with Michigan’s annual report card, particularly at the high school level.

Living on the state border, it’s interesting to observe the differences in the two education systems, and we wonder about differences in testing regimens.

It would be interesting—and a ridiculous waste of students’ time—to trade tests. Ohio appears to have the admirable goal of pushing all school districts to achieve an “excellent” rating and this year there were a record number of districts making the grade, including every Fulton County school. 

In Michigan, the goal seems to take a different tact. Over the years, the state’s assessment test has gone through change after change. It almost seems as though there’s been more of a push to keep districts off balance, as though if too many schools do well on the test, then it’s becoming too easy and it’s time to alter it once again.

That’s probably changing in Michigan after the No Child Left Behind legislation was approved in Washington about a decade ago. Now, every state is an active player in the so-called “high-stakes testing” approach that shows how many students are able to meet proficiency standards. If a single test is used to make that determination, then obviously classroom instruction will be geared toward the test, as well.

Does the testing program measure creative thinking and applied learning? Does it take into account the many skills and talents students possess that cannot be measured on a “paper and pencil” test that measures achievement in a handful of core academic subjects? 

No matter how the scores come out, no matter how they vary from year to year,  no matter what the limitations from school size and resources, one thing is certain: There are still many brilliant students passing through our local schools who graduate and move on to create successful lives for themselves.

That may be something the annual testing regimen can’t determine.

No Basketball Player Left Behind

Author unknown:

All teams must make the state playoffs and all must win the championship.

If a team does not win the championship, it will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their basketballs and equipment will be taken away until they do win the championship.

All players will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time, even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. No exceptions will be made for lack of interest in basketball, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents.

All students will play basketball at a proficient level.

Talented players will be asked to work out on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren’t interested in basketball, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don’t like basketball.

Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games. If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad basketball players.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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