My Aunt Margie is a wonderful teacher. Here is a letter she drafted to the Los Angeles Times today. Let's see if it gets printed. Remember... you read it here first! :-)
October 26, 2005
Dear Editor of the Times: In your headline, "Study: Parents Not the Key to Pupil Success", you neglected to add the essential ending, “On Standardized Tests”. It is not student success and achievement we measure each May, but success and achievement on fill-in-the-bubble, multiple choice tests. As a veteran teacher, I have learned that student success on annual testing depends as much on student savvy with that form of test taking as on knowledge of subject matter. My first experience with giving such a test was enlightening. I believe in using real-life materials as much as possible in my classroom. Hence, I had always used real money in my math lessons. At test time, I discovered that some students who were able to count money and make change didn’t recognize the little drawings of coins on the test. Other students who wrote well didn’t pick the right bubble showing punctuation. Yet other avid readers weren’t engaged in the short contrived paragraphs and questions.
If I want to know if my students have met learning goals of state standards, I use real assessments. If I want to know how children read, I listen to them read and evaluate their fluency and comprehension. If I want to know how children write, I read and evaluate their writing. If I want to see success and achievement on standardized tests, that is an entirely different matter.
Oh, and parents: You really do matter. Perhaps your role isn’t so important on standardized tests, but your involvement in your child’s whole learning makes a difference in school achievement. More importantly, it makes a huge difference for your child as a life-long learner. As a teacher, I say thank you to parents who encourage and assist their children as real learners.
Grace Miller School
La Verne, CA