Another unintended consequence of all the testing

I meant to include this in my previous post, but forgot.  Anyway, back in my day the last couple weeks of school were not exactly the most productive, but we did learn things.  From what I’ve seen in 8 years as a parent of a public education post NCLB, pretty much no learning happens once the kids take the EOG (end of grade) tests.  Obviously, this is an N of one kid, but from what I’ve heard from other parents, this sound pretty typical.  My son’s school day today consisted of a movie in each class.

Now, you know I’m not one to bash teachers.  In general, I have the greatest respect for what they do and lament the degree to which they are under-valued, but one thing I will say is… please do not say that the tests stifle all your efforts to teach creatively and do things outside the box and then when you get 2-3 weeks of teaching after the tests to do little more than show movies.  Now is your chance to do all this great, creative, not test-driven teaching.  But, I’ve seen pretty much no evidence of it.

On the other hand, I know at least some of David’s teachers are really good and passionate about teaching.  I do wonder the degree  to which a school develops a culture where post EOG  testing is just a break for everybody and nobody wants to be the one teacher who is actually teaching.  If so, that’s a shame.  And if its just universal, even more of a shame.

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Too many tests

So, for the second time in two days, I agree with our governor (seemingly bizarrely to me, he came out quite strongly in support of solar power yesterday).  In today’s news, he argues that NC school students are taking too many tests, and as a parent, sure seems to me that he’s right:

RALEIGH — Public school students take too many tests, Gov. Pat McCrory told education leaders Wednesday, and the state needs to figure out how to lighten the load.

During a meeting with the State Board of Education, McCrory said he has instructed his new senior education advisor, Eric Guckian, to identify which tests are unnecessary and report back by the end of the summer…

On Wednesday, just a few hours before McCrory made the argument for fewer tests, administrators with the state Department of Public Instruction answered questions from skeptical board members about North Carolina’s testing regimen.

Board Vice Chairman A.L. “Buddy” Collins said two high school assistant principals told him that their schools spend 20 days a year on tests. Those 20 days represent lost instructional time, he said.

“The testing program of this state has reduced our school year to 165 days,” Collins said. “We are operating at a time when many educators would say we need a 200-day year of education to keep up with international counterparts.”

Rebecca Garland, DPI’s chief academic officer, said schools should not need to reserve 20 days for testing.

“If we’re talking 20 days out of the instructional calendar, we don’t want that to happen,” she said. “I want to know what it is, too.”

McCrory later told the State Board of Education that he met with more than a half dozen school superintendents last week, and they uniformly complained about the testing load and the drain on instructional time.

Personally, I’ve astounded and disturbed by the amount of instructional time my son David (7th grade) has lost to taking (and preparing to take) tests.  Heck, at some point they actually need to spend some time learning all this stuff that they are being tested upon.  I’m not going to blanketly oppose all testing, but it certainly seems to me that they need to be more judicious with the matter.  Case in point, making my son take an End of Grade test for 7th grade math and an End of Course test for Algebra (which is his 7th grade math).

Christie in 2016?

So, Chris Christie has been getting plenty of attention lately with his appointment of a new Senator from New Jersey and a re-election campaign this year.  Right now, Christie looks like a great general election candidate for 2016, at least based on this Gallup poll:

Favorable/Unfavorable Opinions of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, by Party, June 2013

A nationally-known Republican politician with 52% approval and only 18% disapproval from Democrats.  Wow!  Of course, this means that Chris Christie as currently constituted is surely unelectable in a Republican primary.  He’s going to have to tack hard to the right to allay fears of conservatives who are going to be mighty suspicious of anyone Democrats like this much.  Perhaps even further to the right then someone with more conservative bonafides would have to.  Honestly, I just don’t think Christie will be able to win over the right-wing nuts he would need to in order to win the Republican nomination.  But, that’s why he’d be a formidable general election candidate.  Will certainly be interesting to see just how far he goes in trying to please the right (and thereby alienating Democrats) assuming he runs for president.

Photo of the day

From Telegraph’s animal photos of the week gallery:

A tern shows off its fly fishing skills as it swoops down to catch a carp in its bright red beak. Photographer Andrew Lee made the short trip from his home in Irvine, California, to the El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach.
A tern shows off its fly fishing skills as it swoops down to catch a carp in its bright red beak. Photographer Andrew Lee made the short trip from his home in Irvine, California, to the El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach.Picture: Andrew Lee/Solent News

Pure awesomeness (map of the day version)

An NCSU graduate student has done a super awesome study where he maps regional linguistic terms and pronunciation differences throughout the US.  You can see a whole set of 22 maps at Business Insider.  Of course, the soda/pop distinction is a classic:

Everyone knows that the Midwest calls it

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