This past week most of my tutoring students were taking the ISTEP, Indiana’s version of state testing.

I originally wrote about standardized testing in November of 2014. Not much has changed since then unless you live in Indiana and have a school-aged child. ISTEP has become the number one topic of derision.

Last year’s test was a total waste of time and money. There is not enough room in a blog posting to even begin to review all that went wrong.

So a year later, what has changed?

The results

I’d like to report that the test, the delivery system and the scoring have all been fixed. Operative word – like.  Pretty much everything is the same.

Parents of one student informed the school that they would hold their daughter out of school to prevent her from taking the test. They believe that their daughter would be better served if she were spending her class time receiving instruction rather than taking the test.

Naturally this has created quite a storm.

Then there is the situation with one of my current students. She came to tutoring literally traumatized about not being able to move to the fourth grade. I tried to comfort her and assure her that she would be fine. I do not think I was successful.

Sadly, these fears, founded or not, were the result of comments from her teacher.

Some history

In the mid twentieth century when standardized testing was first implemented, the tests were used ONLY to gauge the individual child against the standards for the grade and/or against that child’s prior test scores.  Schools were strictly prohibited from comparing classes or schools and districts (or cities or states, etc.) with one another.

Lest you think I’m just saying this to bolster my own opinion, I did a research paper on the topic while earning my MA/Education a few years ago. I was stunned when I discovered the truth about standardized tests.

With the creation of the U.S. Department of Education in the 1970’s, the situation began to change.

Follow the money

How many times has the leading character told his underling to “follow the money?” I suspect these three words provide the path to answers for way too many issues. And education issues are not immune from money.

Every time I read an article about the ISTEP debacle, I intentionally look for the importance of educating students. Oh, it shows up – eventually. But the majority of the article discusses teacher contracts, federal money, cost of tests, outside vendors, computer problems – you get the picture.

Last week an article in my local paper noted that schools are required to administer an annual standardized test in order to receive federal money. I find that to be very odd considering that according to the U.S. Constitution all powers not specifically granted to the federal government go to the states. And since education is not mentioned in the Constitution . . .

Is there a solution?

There is always a solution, but like any, it will not be easy. Parents must again take over the education of their children. Not in the literal sense, although that does explain the exploding growth of homeschooling, but by actively participating in the process.

Much like the grass roots anger that has surfaced during the Presidential contest this year, the time has come for parents to push back against the bureaucrats in Washington, DC and their largely puppet local school boards.

Local school boards have little real control because they do not want to do anything that may draw the ire of politicos. Note I did not say the school board was concerned about drawing the ire of parents.

Parents have become too comfortable just letting the schools do whatever “they” deem is in the best interest of the children.

One more comment – the teachers have nothing to do with this.  They are at the mercy of the system. Wonder why we have a teacher shortage?


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