September 4, 2006
RE: High Stakes Testing
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:47 PM
I agree with the quote from Jim Warford (former school chancellor for Florida), "We can't afford to focus on our earliest learners, and then ignore what happens to them later on." Middle and high schools can ruin the best elementary school education.
One obvious way to improve middle and high school education is to use data generated by testing in the elementary grades. This is the lasting benefit of testing early and often. Unfortunately, teachers and administrators do not communicate with one another, and the information is lost from grade to grade and level to level.
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:51 PM
This week's Newsweek cover story targets the pros and cons of standardized testing for the youngest public school students.
One community highlighted in the discussion is Clemmons:
In wealthier communities, where parents can afford an extra year of day care or preschool, they are holding their kids out of kindergarten a year—a practice known in sports circles as red-shirting—so their kids can get a jump on the competition. Clemmons parent Mary DeLucia did it. When her son, Austin, was 5, he was mature, capable, social and ready for school. But the word around the local Starbucks was that kindergarten was a killer. "Other parents said, 'Send him. He'll do just fine'," says DeLucia. "But we didn't want him to do fine, we wanted him to do great!" Austin, now in fourth grade, towers over his classmates, but he's hardly the only older kid in his grade. At Clemmons last year, 40 percent of the kindergartners started when they were 6 instead of 5. Other parents say they understand where the DeLucias are coming from but complain that red-shirting can make it hard for other kids to compete. "We're getting to the point," says Bill White, a Clemmons dad whose kids started on time, where "we're going to have boys who are shaving in elementary school."
For those who don't want to wade through the entire story, the debate revolves around the usefulness of standardized tests for kids from 5 to 7 years old.
Some argue the tests are needed to help students avoid falling through the cracks. Others counter that too much academic rigor and testing in the early grades can lead to early student "burnout."
Government run amok
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:36 PM
Why is the federal government so much larger today than the Founders ever could have conceived?
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano offers this assessment in his recent book, The Constitution In Exile (Nelson Current, 2006):
The feds have grown strong thanks to congressmen and senators from both major American political parties giving power to the government that is not enumerated, delegated, specified, contemplated, or even hinted at in the Constitution. Thanks to the dereliction of duty of the Supreme Court in sanctioning these unjust laws, just about every area of human endeavor and behavior is now regulated by the federal government "in the name of commerce."
Napolitano reminds us that the Constitution limited Congress to 18 powers -- a number that's bound to surprise anyone who has not studied the issue.
We're so over it
Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:42 AM
The Washington Times reports that Patrick Henry College -- the "homeschool" university -- has gotten past last year's split over academic freedom and is "ready to start fresh."
Erik Root, formerly of the Locke Foundation's Center for Local Innovation and now research director for the N.C. Family Policy Council, was identified as the instigator of what became a one-third faculty revolt at Patrick Henry.
10:30 a.m. Update, clarification from Erik: "13 of 22 professors left last year (more than 50 percent, apparently including part-timers). The issue was bigger than me and I was not the instigator. I was the occasion why many faculty stood up and said enough. There were problems LONG before the debacle over me."
The Washington Post in May also gave an account of the controversy at Patrick Henry.
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