Caught a news article in today’s Boston Globe – which you may or may not be able to read depending on whether or not the Globe is instituting its $16-a-month subscription fee. Here it is, just in case: State aims to test its youngest students (October 2, 2011).
I’m relieved to hear that this is not an “early MCAS”, that kindergarten students won’t be tossed out of kindergarten (really? that was on someone’s radar?), that Kindergarten students won’t have to fill in bubble sheets or write essays. If the Globe article is correct, the assessment will be used to determine what resources early childhood students may need. And while this is laudable, I agree with the Boston Public Schools director of Early Childhood education – we already assess students quite a lot – in Boston’s case, there are 14 other assessments; is there really a need for another? It appears the answer is in making the state eligible for grant funding offered through RTT…. hmmm, is that reason enough to put 5-year-olds through another battery of tests?
The Globe article continues to point out that 3rd grade MCAS scores are flat; that scores in high-poverty cohorts haven’t improved much. Well, there’s a shock; and here’s a factor that won’t require anyone to test a 5-year old. Poverty and the traumas students deal with are a gigantic factor in whether or not students in the urban school districts cited as not performing can test as well as more affluent peers.
You see, when you come to school hungry you can’t think. When your family has been kicked out of your apartment, when the power is turned off, when the world around you is one big sh**storm, you probably won’t do well on a standardized test. Dare I say that test-taking may not be the most important part of your day?
Until we get serious about providing a social safety net for those who are most vulnerable, you can test kindergarteners, third graders and any one else you want. The results will be the same – and all that will be accomplished is that a company who writes and provides scoring for a test will get rich.