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Should Lawrence public schools use advanced testing to make changes in the classroom?

Asked at Hastings, 1900 W. 23rd St. on May 13, 2005

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Photo of Jason Bruce

“I think anything they can do to evaluate an individual’s ability to learn would be helpful.”

Photo of Fran Wisdom

“Sure. I think they should, because kids aren’t all equal.”

Photo of Tara Smith

“No, because all that testing will take away money that should be going to pay teachers’ salaries.”

Photo of Michael Romero

“I think everyone should be able to attend class without being judged beforehand.”

Comments

raven 9 years, 7 months ago

Ceallach and enochville, I have responded to both of you on yesterday's posts. Thanks!

Ceallach 9 years, 7 months ago

As to today's question -- does anyone know what they mean by changes? What changes? Color of the walls? Crayola brand vs generic colors?

I thought our school children were tested regularly and assigned to groups according to their need. My children have been out of school for some time. If that is no longer the procedure, I hope someone will enlighen me.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 months ago

I have no idea what "Advanced testing" means. Sounds like a giant waste of money if they intend to blanket the school with these tests. My 2 cents: If you have a kid with a problem...test him. Don't test the entire school. Personally, I have an all A's student that used to choke on tests. (So much so that I thought she might flunk 1st grade.) Thankfully, she got over it. Now, her test scores actually reflect the rest of her work. Some kids, for whatever reason, just don't test well. I get worried that some schools only teach to get good scores on standardized tests and they fail to teach much more important things for lack of time.

neopolss 9 years, 7 months ago

Anymore, it seems people are more interested in constantly testing performance instead of actually teaching. Remove the competitive nature of testing and you would see how a stress free environment is a breeding ground for learning. It is unfortunate that public education runs like corporate business, where the only goal is bottom line numbers. The company could be tanking, but as long as the numbers crunch, no one takes notice. It just cannot and should not work this way with education.

lunacydetector 9 years, 7 months ago

it's obvious this is not needed now that lawrence schools rank in the top 4 areas in america for businesses wanting to relocate by expansion management magazine. lawrence is highly favored because fly-by-night call center telemarketing firms can pay a minimal salary and the employees are abundant. the chamber loves call centers because it gives the appearance that lawrence has REAL industry with REAL good jobs.

lawrence needs more companies like serologicals -oops aren't they another fly-by-nighter?-maybe, maybe not, but the chamber wants to create A position for $350,000 a year so we can get some more high quality companies like Serologicals. after all, the bottom liine comes down to "appearance." REAL success does NOT matter.

Liberty 9 years, 7 months ago

If the schools haven't figured out how to teach children and how children learn best by now, they never will be qualified to teach your children; no matter how much testing or how many new programs they start. It will just be a great waste of money and a waste of your childrens' learning time.

parbuddy38 9 years, 7 months ago

My wife and I are heading to new orleans in a couple of weeks for our anniversary. Any suggestions of fun things to do outside the french quarter. You guys have great wealth of knowledge so thanks in advance for your suggestions.

raven 9 years, 7 months ago

Ceallach: If you post today, I left you a quick message at the end of yesterday's discussion.

For today's question. I think children are already tested enough. Do standarized tests really give us that many answers?

Fangorn 9 years, 7 months ago

raven, Ceallach, enochville: I hope it's OK, but I joined your discussion from yesterday.

Fangorn 9 years, 7 months ago

I looked for an article on this, but all I found was something about testing new students to gauge where they are in certain subjects. I don't think this could be called "advanced testing", and I don't know what kind of "changes" are being proposed. Change merely for the sake of change is usually a risky prospect.

Testing seems disfavored in a few comments already this morning. If we do not "test performance" in some way, how can we tell how well the teachers are teaching and the students are learning? How will we know if the school district (here or anywhere) is doing its job? What useful alternatives to testing exist? There has to be something. But what is it?

There are public school districts in this country that are tanking and where the number don't "crunch", and yet few are noticing. If public education was really run like corporate business, these failures would be allowed to go under and be replaced by some process or organization that would educate. That simply isn't happening.

enochville 9 years, 7 months ago

People I know who study education believe standardized tests and programs like "No child left behind" hinder true education of students. These programs foster teaching for the test as opposed to teaching for learning. And since schools have to measure up, pressure is put on students to do well on the tests. Such pressure encourages cheating inadvertantly.

Having said that, I do think we need to monitor progress somehow so as to have some quality control in the teaching of children. One suggestion might be having supervisors over teachers who diligently give feedback to the teachers on effective teaching techniques and foster caring attributes. Teachers would be encouraged to use activities in the classroom that stimulate discussion, require critical and creative thinking through written assignments, and generate interest in the topic through fun activities. Teachers would be encouraged to track individuals' progress through daily logs of the skills and feedback they gave that child that day (granted that they would only be able to give a couple of individuals direct feedback a day). After supervisors observe the teacher's classes, the teacher and supervisor would have a meeting so that the supervisor can listen to the teacher's concerns and offer suggestions to address them. This would help relieve some of the burden our teacher's feel and help them see that they are not alone.

I would be happy with my children's instruction if I knew that their teachers felt supported and were keeping track of the individualized feedback they gave to each student, and were being supervized in proven, effective teaching techniques. I would then know that my children are learning, and I wouldn't need constant tests to show me that. Children would be learning things in that kind of environment that standardized tests can't pick up on. Standardized tests tap into memorized facts and a little bit of deductive reasoning. Effective teaching adds to that application, inductive reasoning, effective communication of ideas, summarization, and an enthusiasm for the material that motivates the child to continue learning outside the classroom.

enochville 9 years, 7 months ago

Raven - I added a response to your last post yesterday.

raven 9 years, 7 months ago

enochville: I replied as well and appreciate your thoughts.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Could advanced testing be used to place a student at or above a grade level. Standardized testing and NCLB are not a good combination because students will memorize for the test which is not necessarily indicative of learning.

The passing of these tests keep public schools out of trouble with GW...we need more logical reasons for testing as well as how or when it is effective.

Carmenilla and Sunflower Sue I believe are on to something.

We homeschool which allows the parents to know everyday what is being learned. Unfortunately homeschooling is not an option to everyone for a variety of reasons. This school district has a long history of working with homeschooling families which was a determining factor for coming to Lawrence...that and the fact it's one of the best districts on the planet.

tell_it_like_it_is 9 years, 7 months ago

Maybe we need to test teachers to make sure they are really qualified and have the personality to teach? Too many of them spend to much time moaning and complaining and making excuses about why they can't do their job.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Metro areas with the best overall public schools, a key measure for businesses looking to expand or relocate, according to Expansion Management magazine, a publication for executives of businesses that are actively looking for a place to expand or relocate during the next one to three years. The 2004 rankings are in parentheses: 1. State College, Pa. (1) 2. Sheboygan, Wis. (8) 3. Madison, Wis. (6) 4. Lawrence (2) 5. Iowa City (4)

Carmenilla 9 years, 7 months ago

The school my kid goes to tests the students every 6 months. It helps parents and educators know what level of learning they are at. Granted, her school is based on the idea that children should learn at their own pace and mentor one another. She is in a class with kids of different ages and they all work at different levels but they still interact and function as "peers". It seems to really work for her (and us).

But the standarized test she takes is called the Woodcock-Johnson test. That has to be the worst/funniest name ever!!!

Also, the topic yesterday was interesting and it turns out that the landlord did get nailed for racial discrimination. She sounded like a craptacular person anyway. I'm glad she has to PAY!

Fangorn 9 years, 7 months ago

Wow! Only 28 posts so far today? Usually we have this many before breakfast! I guess since we don't really know what "advanced testing" means or what "changes" are being proposed, we don't have much of a basis for discussion.

Merrill: How long have you homeschooled your child(ren)? I'm glad to hear that the Lawrence district is supportive of homeschoolers. Many places are down right hostile. btw, thanks for the city rankings. I had heard something along these lines. I just didn't know the source. Do you think Lawrence dropped from #2 to #4 because of the roundabouts? ;)

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Fangorn,

We homeschool our children from day one,approximately 15 years on our two oldest and 5 so far on the youngest. We subscribe pretty much to the Waldorf philosophy on homeschool. All of the homeschooling families we were associated with have children in Art Insitutes or four year colleges scattered about the country.

Our oldest two knew what direction they wanted to go and entered high school to further prepare themselves. The oldest is attending K.C. Art Institute and next in line is at KU taking on Architecture and Law.

While attending Lawrence High they were able to choose courses of their choice and they were not slackers. Their goal was preparation for THEIR future not a diploma. Both were 3.7 and 3.9 gpa respectively.

Their first semester in the system amounted to 1 class each. The second semester they went for seven till the day they left. Lawrence High allows homeschoolers to take whatever classes so long as they register at the beginning of each semester.

Those roundabout discussions in Topeka regarding Religion over Science and the inability of the legislators to support public and higher education is probaly raising eyebrows. Yep you are on to something.

Ceallach 9 years, 7 months ago

Raven, Fangorn, Enochville: left a message on yesterday's line. My grandbaby is here so the rest of the world has to stop now :-)

May all have a good night.

Fangorn 9 years, 7 months ago

merrill: Thanks for your willingness to share. It sounds like you're preparing your children to lead worthwhile lives, one of parenting's highest goals. Touche on the roundabout comment!

bleeding_flower 9 years, 7 months ago

Wow 1:00 and only 17 posts. Not a very interesting subject today. I think that they should do the tests. You don't want the kids that learn at a faster level not challenged enough and the kids that are slower flunking because they just don't get it. Anyway bye for the weekend I am getting out of town. Have fun

Ceallach 9 years, 7 months ago

Raven: thanks for the note, please check.

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