In response to Stephen Krashen’s post about the likely expansion of testing in the near future, as well as federal interest in tests for “infants, toddlers, and preschoolers,” a reader sent this urgent plea:
LET THE CHILDREN PLAY!!!!!
There was a time when children went to school for kindergarten to learn how to learn. They worked on hand-eye coordination, figure ground discrimination, and other necessary skills. They also learned to listen in a group and play together. They learned to color inside the lines and to cut a straight line. They learned to organize things. Many of the skills they learned in kindergarten helped them be good students later, most importantly to focus. Unfortunately, many students are moving through the school systems and through life without having learned these valuable skills. Because they didn’t learn these necessary behaviors and listening skills at a young age, they aren’t ready to learn in the middle and upper elementary grades. Because of this, they are singled out, pulled out of their classes or, worse yet, out of recess, to get extra help. Would we be spending all this extra money for intervention programs if they had been allowed to be children- to do what is developmentally appropriate?
What if these children had been allowed to play and to learn these needed skills in kindergarten, or preschool even?
What if they had been allowed recess time in first and second grade? (And we have a child obesity problem why?) Far too many administrators have outlawed recess at their elementary schools, thinking recess time could be better used to shovel more information into the children’s brains. Really? And what does research say about that?
Whatever happened to developmental appropriateness? Many years ago I was asked to give permission for my son to be pulled out of first grade for speech. My reply was yes, but only if they would be working on sounds that were developmentally appropriate for his age. Some children don’t develop certain speech sound (i.e. the zh sound) until age 8. He was six. They did not pull him out, and I never heard anything about speech class again. He developed all his speech sounds by the following year.
What if parents, when asked for permission to have their children pulled out of class for intervention, asked if it was developmentally appropriate? When the answer is ‘s/he needs this intervention to pass the test’, what if the parent asked if the test was developmentally appropriate?
Why isn’t it considered child abuse to expect an eight year old to take a 2-1/2 hour test? Or a nine year old? Or a ten year old? Administrators will tell you it isn’t really a 2-1/2 hour test. Most students finish in 1to 1-1/2 hours. Sorry. If they have to sit quietly for 2-1/2 hours, until every one finishes, it’s a 2-1/2 hour test. Who determined this was appropriate for these children?
In Ohio in 1995, they started the 4th grade Proficiency Test. This was considered a ‘practice’ for the 9th grade test. Teachers were told the test had to be 2-1/2 hours in 4th grade, because it was 2-1/2 hours in 9th grade. Really? Following that logic, wouldn’t it make sense that we also give 4th graders their driving temps, so they are ready to drive at age 16?
Ask any good teacher, and s/he can tell you who will and who will not pass the test. So why do we waste all the money and resources to find out something we already know? Teachers are no longer being allowed to make the important decisions they are capable of, and so the children suffer.
And how appropriate are the tests? If an adult reads a test question, and can’t figure out what they want, how can a ten year old?
And so now, as we waste money, time and effort on developing assessments for a set of standards that have never been piloted, if the children, teachers and schools don’t meet the standard, will it be the fault of the children and the teachers, or the fault of those who wrote the standards and the tests? Any intelligent person knows the answer to that assessment question.