Sunday, March 15, 2009

Limit resources dictate emphasis on test scores over instruction

This article appeared yesterday in the New York Times:
Where Education and Assimilation Collide
Published: March 14, 2009

Here is the comment I posted.

Living in Saint Paul, MN, we have many newcomers from all over the world in our schools. In the elementary school where I work we try to support them as much as we can in their classrooms and depending on their needs may pull them out of class into small groups for a few minutes a day to work on specific skills. We also are allowed to read certain tests to them, math and science for example, but not reading. Resources are limited, however, and dwindling and the pressure for these students to do well on tests is great and increasing. Because of this we have felt the need to group higher concentrations of students learning English into a few classes, so they are easier to support with just one or two extra teachers. Having them spread out into all classes the way we used to do would mean adding staff that we cannot afford. It would be ideal to let them be assimilated more and allow them to learn more from their native English-speaking peers, but the cost would also be greater to us if they didn't perform sufficiently on the state standardized tests.

It all comes down to too much testing and too few dollars. If the money being spent on testing was being directed to support instruction we could make more headway.

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