Eye On The Birdie – Post #32 Uncool, PARCC Testing

Categories: Blog

Hello, whoever happens to be reading this. As you may have inferred from the title, this is not going to be a happy post. On the contrary, it is going to be opinionated, judgmental, disgruntled, and possibly offensive—that is, if you support standardized testing. I don’t. At all. And I really need to tell as many people as possible, as loudly and repeatedly as possible.

As some of you may already know, I was homeschooled up until this school year. Therefore, this is the first in-depth experience I have had with a standardized test. I have literally not heard one good thing about it from anyone I know and trust, but I tried to approach it with an open mind. To be honest, I failed at doing that due to a lifelong grudge against tests. But still! It’s not like I went into it determined not to see any good at all in the PARCC test. I like to try to see the silver lining in everything, and I usually succeed.

I found no silver lining.

Instead I found thirty-four math problems (some with up to four parts). I knew how to complete maybe half. I had ninety minutes to complete each seventeen-question section. The first section actually went okay. I knew all but one or two and I finished about ten minutes early. The second section… not so much. I managed to “answer” all of them (meaning I put somethingin the answer box, even if it was just “The y-intercept is…”) but I guessed on about two thirds of them. It (pardon my language) sucked.

The other thing that has caused me no end of angst today is that most students are blaming their teachers!It is NOT the fault of the teachers! I mean, we (as in the students) aren’t even expected to pass the math portion of the test until junior year. I am a freshman. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I think there’s a reason kids can’t pass the tests until they are sixteen or seventeen, and it is not lazy teachers. I love my math teacher! He works really hard to try to help his students enjoy and retain math while also getting a passing grade. He works as hard as anybody I know, and I still probably failed the Algebra 1 PARCC. I think it’s because there is not enough time in three-fourths of a school year to cover everything that seems to be expected.

I’m going to use myself as an example here because I’m good at retaining information and have really good grades. I have never disliked math. I prefer almost every other subject, but I like math too. (This is in part because academic-wise, I like doing things I’m good at, and I have trouble memorizing math formulas as compared to memorizing vocabulary words or Spanish conjugations.) However, I still remember practically everything I learned in pre-algebra. On the other hand, I can’t remember half the stuff I learned in math last semester! I am pretty much certain that this is because we cover each unit (meaning things like linear inequalities, quadratic expressions, and exponential expressions) in three weeks at the most, and we never have time for an actual review. After studying the unit, I won’t see the material until the next big test. As a result, I barely have time to memorize anything and then have it all pushed out of my brain by the next unit. Even though I’m a good student, I have trouble in math because of this ridiculously accelerated pace.

Now, I know they (whoever “they” are) have reasons for having such a fast moving curriculum required in public schools. I’m not saying those reason are invalid. I’m just saying that, as a student, this curriculum does not work for me. Among those reasons are that other nations’ students are more advanced than those in the U.S. That is true. However, one recent observation I made from a book written by a Japanese author is that the main character spent all his time (until he ended up in a fantasy world full of animal-people and magic gems) eating, sleeping, or at school. He would get up, go to school, go home from school, and then go backto a different school to study. So… maybe kids in other countries don’t spend less time on each topic, but spend moretime studying.

I don’t think standardized tests should be a part of the education system. From what I know, they’re supposed to evaluate the teachers according to how well the student performed. However, teachers can’t forcea kid to learn, and they don’t have time to teach the students everything that is on the tests, anyway. If it’s really that important to evaluate teachers, why don’t they (again, not sure who “they” are) just evaluate the teachers on the students’grades. That would probably be a little more accurate.

Frankly, I even have a problem with the term “standardized testing.” How can you standardize education? You can’t just shut everything I’ve learned this year in little boxes labeled “Math,” “English,” and “Science”! I’ve learned so much more than that. Education doesn’t just happen up to a certain standard, and once you meet the requirements you’re done. Education happens everywhere, in every way, to people of every age and from every walk of life. We are learning from the day we’re born till the day we die, and who’s to say what was important or unimportant? I wasn’t taught how to laugh or smile or play in school, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important! Education isn’t standardized—it’s universal. And it is up to us to keep it that way.


One response to “Eye On The Birdie – Post #32 Uncool, PARCC Testing

  1. You are wise beyond your years. These issues are burdens with which teachers wrestle on a daily basis, believe me. Teaching is not the occupation that it was when I entered the profession twenty years ago. I still love being in the classroom, most of the time, and I cherish the opportunity to teach young people about the subjects that interest me while also getting to know them as human beings. That’s what keeps most of us going.

    Thanks for the kind words. I think I know who you are, by the way. 😉

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