Standardized testing

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In an attempt to engage the community, and improve parameters for teacher-parent interaction, our boards in Ontario have chosen methods advocated in RCL, (1994).

Royal Commission on Learning <http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/abcs/rcom/main.html>

Once each student is subjected to the same educational standard, this orientation isolates them for evaluation, much like eggs in a crate. This is a fair way to achieve the Ministerial objectives.

My concern however, is the significance and weight this practice now carries.

Expertise, in this century is available to any search engine. So much depends not on the individual but on results achieved by randomly-formed teams.

A natural ability to form and perform in a team setting seems to be a preemptive skill in our fast-paced and constantly changing era.

Is not the elementary-aged person’s developmental stage the optimal age to develop and practice?

Wouldn’t then placing greater significance on these skills and abilities be an important factor in facilitating these skills and abilities rather than only viewing them in the academic crate?

A crate defined with the jargon of Literacy and Numeracy.

Pressures to achieve the guidelines provided by: The Ontario Ministry of Education <http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/elementary.html> for elementary education suborns an educator’s attention to the meeting of standards from meeting their needs.

This new weighting for evaluation of performance gives the educator the opportunity to rely on team dynamics to assist with ‘special needs’ as in fact, we all have unique needs and many ways to learn. Allowing teachers the authority and discretion to operate as facilitators as well as resource could improve classroom life for all.


Avenues for change Volume III,

“The Educators” [Ref: Royal Commission on Learning Report: Short Version - For the Love of Learning]

Report of the Royal Commission on Learning: Short Version

Bullet points Taken from “Dear Reader”

  • "...no positive changes to the system can happen without the enthusiastic co-operation of teachers - a central fact perversely ignored in many attempts at reform"
  • "...teachers simply can't be expected to perform their many functions adequately unless they're properly prepared."
  • "But more remains to be done. We have much to say about all those whom the education system doesn't treat fairly. “Dear Reader”

At first glance the vision of the Commission to assess future needs of the 21st Century seems moot. Stop to notice the computer equipment from an episode of “X-Files” or “Buffy”, then just ‘go with it!’

I write this, not to criticize or condone current board practice but to challenge its validity before the OHRC and “The Ontario Human Rights Code”.

Disability and human rights (brochure 2016)

What is disability? The Code protects people from discrimination because of past, present and perceived disabilities

“The goal of accommodation is to allow people with disabilities to equally benefit from and take part in services, housing or the workplace.” Taken from “The Duty to Accommodate”


RESOURCES:

"THE TEST" Anya Kamenetz (2015) Ch 1: TEN ARGUMENTS AGAINST TESTING

01. We’re testing the wrong things.

02. Tests waste time and money.

03. They are making students hate school and turning parents into preppers.

04 They are making teachers hate teaching.

05. They penalize diversity.

06. They cause teaching to the test.

07. The high stakes tempt cheating.

08. They are gamed by [states - provinces] until they become meaningless.

09. They are full of errors.

10. The next generation of tests will make things worse.


Anya Kamenetz was not wrong:

The URLs listed will take you to the CCSS Parent Resource Parents Role:

The CCSS is ‘Common Core State Standards’ section of PTA [National Body USA] .

"It is important to collaborate with your student's teacher to determine the particular assistance needed by your student. This Web site provides general guidance and some specific resources for understanding mathematical concepts and homework tasks. In some cases, you may be learning new mathematics or how to use technology along with your student."

<http://www.cpmponline.org/parentresource3/index.html> [2015 edition]

<http://www.cpmponline.org/parentresource2/index.html > - the 2018 edition has been sanitized to imply that while still categorized as Parent Resource it no longer appears to be an obligation.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. 

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. 

Persons of Elementary School age have the right to rely on [Articles 6 and 7.] UDHR

Council of Ministers of Education, Canada …although council decisions are not binding on any minister of education, decisions of the council generally reflect consensus positions of the provinces.

Established in 1967 to provide a collective provincial voice on educational matters to federal government offices and agencies and to facilitate interprovincial consultation and co-operation. One of the council's outstanding accomplishments was that of co-ordinating the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development review of national policies for education in Canada, which was completed in 1975.

Minor n. [REF: dictionary.findlaw.com ] Minor

  • a person who has not yet reached the age of majority. 

You are considered a child and under the legal custody of a parent or guardian. 

In Canada, exclusive legislative responsibility for education is granted to the provinces in Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867. 

Promoting Equality of Educational Opportunity - http://www.cmec.ca/Publications 

Kindergarten programs, whether full-day or half-day, mandatory or voluntary. Six of the provinces offer full-day Kindergarten, with others considering it. Statistics Canada numbers show that in seven provinces, school districts offer junior Kindergarten for four year olds. Over 90 per cent of five year olds are attending Kindergarten across Canada.

In 2011, the ministers of education held a special session of early childhood learning and development at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. 

 36. -According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (2008) undertaken by Statistics Canada, over 90 per cent of five-year-olds are attending Kindergarten across Canada. -The recent publication, "Early Years Study 3: Making Decisions, Taking Action" revealed that across all the provinces, 52 per cent of 2- to 4-year-olds regularly receive early childhood education in child care, pre-school, or public school programs. -The importance of being ready to learn as a foundation for later educational success has been recognized and programs established and expanded to best serve the widest number of children.  


In his research report: “Educational accountability…as if education mattered”, Bernie Froese-Germain identifies twelve attributes that accompany large-scale standardized testing. Financial sanctions and incentives aside, along with students dropping out due to pressures, more disconcerting yet and in any order you like: -testing very young children to assess “readiness” for kindergarten and imposing standards-based reform on early childhood education; - distributing “pacing charts” to teachers spelling out what is to be taught on a given day; - excluding students with disabilities or with limited fluency in English from taking tests to ensure their scores don’t bring down school averages.

 “readiness” for kindergarten! - early childhood education!


“The Road to Serfdom” FRIEDRICH A HAYEK September 1944.

Footnote:4 …Freizeitgestaltaltung (literally: the shaping of the use made of the people’s free time), as if it were still ”free Time” when it has to be spent in the way ordained by authority.


Towards a Theory of Instruction Jerome Bruner [1966]

He sees children’s learning as moving between three modes of representation: inactive, iconic, and symbolic - knowing something thorough doing it, through a picture or image of it, and through some symbolic means like language; and all learners move from one mode to another throughout their lives. He argues that the child should be active in discovering important principles - such as the ability to classify and generalize - from practical examples. THE FIRST YEARS AT SCHOOL Angela Anning SECOND EDITION [1997].

Group work (pg.87) [The curriculum]

“Six to eight children sit together around a table, working alongside each other, but essentially engaged in individual tasks.”

‘The teacher …concentrates on teaching …one group at a time, throughout the day’.

3. Children are encouraged to work collaboratively on shared activities.”

At present, emphasis, enforced by standardized testing, is weighted on class work rather than Group work. My expectation would be to turn priorities on their heads, scoring students on the work they do collaboratively on shared activities.

With an emphasis on respectful consultation learned at the earliest ages, collaboration on shared activities, with competition occurring primarily between random and constantly reforming teams rather than individuals.

(pg.88) [The curriculum] continued

“…A dependent child who transfers …to a secondary school system, where where in many classes pupils are required to work in silence without peer group support or friendship can be devastated by this abrupt change in working conditions.” THE FIRST YEARS AT SCHOOL Angela Anning SECOND EDITION [1997]


Te Whaariki, a Maori contribution [a woven mat on which everyone can stand]

[New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2000]

“Members of the learning community of a child with early intervention support may bring different and sometimes conflicting viewpoints about appropriate objectives and goals for the child and about ways to help the child achieve them. They may also bring different views about disability and inclusion. Broadly, early intervention specialists use assessment tools that work towards supporting the child in developing new skills. Teachers, education support workers often bring learning stories to International Parents Meetings, introducing both more information and a different perspective on goals and learning pathways for the child. This perspective reflects the belief, fundamental to Te Whàriki, that all children are active learners who construct their own learning pathways through their relationships with the people …Rather it is a matter of communication, integration, and accommodation, allowing all participants’ voices to be heard. Inclusion and belonging require that children are not excluded from the curriculum of their peers.” (pg.6 INCLUSIVE ASSESSMENT)

Te Whaariki continued Working with Children in the Early Years (2nd Edition, 2002)

Four broad principles provide the framework

1. Empowerment - the curriculum empowers the child to grow and learn.

2. Holistic development - the curriculum reflects the way children grow and learn.

3. Family and community - are an integral part of the curriculum.

4. Relationships - children learn through responsive relationships with people, places, and things. (Approaches to curricula in the early years - pg.83)

The five strands, which are underpinned by goals are:

Well being - involving goals relating health and safety.

Belonging - involving goals relating to links to family and community, a sense of place, routines and customs and acceptable behaviour.

Contribution - involving goals relating to opportunities for learning and a sense of self.

Communication - involving goals relating to protection of the language symbols of their own and other cultures.

Exploration - involving goals relating to play and active exploration of the environment. (Approaches to curricula in the early years - pg.83)

Researcher/Author’s Comment: 

While conceptually exciting, it should also be said that one criticism is that this curriculum could not be imported as it stands being so culture specific. Might we not embrace the essence of Empowerment, Holistic development, Family and community, Relationships as principles that allow for a healthy, balanced, individual. The five strands of well being, belonging, contribution, communication, and exploration seem universal in defining cultural health.

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