>By Renée Smith | j&R Tutoring Academy of Indiana

Although this will be my last commentary on the CCS for the time being, the discussion will continue in the media. Everyone needs to monitor the discussion.

Our children must be educated. We must have quality teachers. We also must have educational benchmarks. But do we really want a country where every school teaches the same thing at the same time to meet the same standards in order to pass the same test? Does this plan celebrate the diversity that has always been a hallmark of the United States?

When standardized tests were first introduced, the purpose was to gauge the individual student’s knowledge. Teachers used the results to determine strengths and weaknesses so they could adjust their instruction accordingly. Teachers and schools were actually prohibited from using the results to compare students or schools.

This policy changed following the creation of the U. S. Dept. of Education. Now the results of the standardized tests appear to mean more than the education itself.

Not only do the tests not take into account that young students learn new skills at varying rates, but teachers’ job security is on the line. This is not to say that teachers’ skills are all the same. Every profession has members who are better at their craft than others. Teachers who do not do a quality job should be replaced.

We have all heard the lament that teachers are teaching to the test. Unfortunately our schools are now administering so many standardized tests that teaching time is being eaten away. Since their jobs and the standing of their schools may depend on the results of the tests, what choice do they have?

Another aspect of CCS that is not discussed as much is how it undermines the ability of the local school board to respond to the concerns of the parents and general community. 10% of the state and local school budgets comes from the federal government, and the government has tied that money to implementing CCS. Not many entities can afford to lose 10% of their money.

The implementation of CCS is also affecting home schooling. Regardless of one’s opinion regarding home schooling, do we really want the federal government inside homes dictating what to teach and when to teach it? As a group, home schooled children regularly score higher than formally schooled children. Why the intrusion?

We all need to take a step back and consider the purpose of schooling. If one child takes longer to learn a skill than the norm, the world will not come to an end. Those citizens who matriculated through the school system before the onslaught of standardized tests made this country great! The “fear” of standardized tests has pushed the start of formal education to the prenatal environment. Baby Einstein, anyone? Parents are stressed. Children are stressed and there are indications that some are experiencing burnout in the middle school years.

From where will creativity and inspiration come if ALL education is the same?