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Old 06-20-2012, 12:13 PM   #41 (permalink)
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Something that would go a long way toward fixing the standardized testing/teaching the test/"kids don't get real educations because they're taught the tests" is the stop giving the standardized tests during the school year.

Standardize Finals in core classes. In elementary and middle school you spend the last 3 days of the semester/year taking the state/federal standardized tests for the subjects currently tested on FCAT/ARMT/SAT's/Whateveracronymwe'reusingnow. Here in Alabama, there are certain objectives to be met in every class anyway, already determined by the state, called the state course of study
(Example would be: Course of Study for grade 2 math: First semester -
#First objective: Re-iterate core concepts learned during grade one (see CoS:G1 Math summary
#Second objective: Basic addition with "carrying"
#Third Objective: Basic subtraction with "borrowing"
#ect)

This is what the Alabama Course of Study looks like now. It give guidelines of what teachers should be getting done each year, but doesn't tell them how to teach it. It should be DEAD SIMPLE to create a standardized test based on those objectives and require teachers to use it as their finals.

Here is Alabama, we have a high school graduation exam test already standardized at the state level. Kids get 5 chances (once in 10th grade, twice in 11 and 12 grades, supposedly at an 11th grade level) to take the test, or just the subjects they have failed previously (ie. They pass everything but math the first time, they only have to take math again). We should just move to end of the year testing for the "4 core" subjects in these grades too, and tie the grade 12 tests to the state "grad exam".

If you do this you move the "test prep" stuff to the end of the year (where it is anyway), instead of spending the entire month of February prepping for the acronym test that happens in March. You give the teachers the ability to spend more time teaching content, with the same tests being given.

Don't get me started on the idiocy of having so many different standardized test a year currently. We basically shut our elementaries down 5 times a year for a week at a time for testing. The high schools twice for the grad exams. The kids taking the exams CANNOT have homework during testing weeks. Given the mix of people, abilities, etc. this means that, in practice, no one has class these weeks.
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Last edited by Daze; 06-20-2012 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:22 PM   #42 (permalink)
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I also think we're doing school wrong in the upper grades anyway. After grade 10 kids should be given a choice to go on a college track (no standard diploma's, all advanced classes), a vocational track (remember vocational schools? We don't need college dropouts, we do need welders, chefs, CAD specialists, and barbers) or given a diploma and wished the best of luck. Standardized learning is really, really stupid at that age if you really want kids to be prepared for life after high school given that so many people do so many different things after high school.

Every school should be REQUIRED to give EVERY child a "real world" math/finances class. How many kids max out a credit card within a year of going to college? How many know how to balance a checkbook/debit account? Know what APR% is? They SHOULD be taught relevant math in class BEFORE they need it. You need this class in grade 10 for the same reason you need sex ed in grade 6, knowledge before its too late.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:26 PM   #43 (permalink)
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:29 PM   #44 (permalink)
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California Native, Home/Private Schooled for High School, from my point of view - I am writing this at work so it will not be my greatest piece.

My High School was very crowded, they had to bring in 10 portable classrooms and place them on one of the softball fields to have enough space to house all the students. As an example to the over-crowding, I was in a portable classroom for math. There were 52 kids in my class in that little trailer. I ended up sitting at the classroom sink on a bar stool because we could not fit any more desks in the room. I also had to share a book with another student at this sink. The book was made in the 1970's, and this was 1999. Now I am not trying to say the book itself was out dated, because it was math. What I am trying to say, is it had seen a ton of students in it's time. It had ripped or missing pages, the binding was cracked and was starting to fall apart. Pages were written in, high lighted, smeared, and rife with correction fluid and tape. It was a mess.

Most of my classes were this way my freshman year, and my grades began to fall. In Junior High I had a 4.0 GPA, and I was now down to a 2.1 GPA. I couldn't concentrate, the lessons were abbreviated due to long periods of class time being devoted to trying to get 50+ high school kids to quiet down enough to have a lesson and pass up and gather last nights homework. When my parents came to Student Teacher day they were horrified. My mom began searching for alternatives and spoke to a co-worker of hers about a private school that her own son attended. My parents set up an appointment at the school for the following week and we checked it out. Everything seemed better about it so I was enrolled that same day.

The private school was a Christian School, and used a system called P.A.C.E. (if you want to see it, you can go Here.). The school was at your own speed, 12 book series per class/grade that when you finished you were done for the year/grade. You could finish early and start the next year early if you wished, or just be done until the next school year started. Private school was fantastic I was able to learn and retain the information much better then I had in the past at public school. If I needed help it was nearly 1 on 1 assistance with the teacher as there were only 9 total students in my high school. The high school teacher did have her degree, while the Junior High and Elementary teachers did not have degrees.

I finished my freshman year about a month early and had an extra long vacation that summer. It was fantastic and best of all I kept most of my friends from public school and we still hung out daily just as if I still went to the same school. I was able to finish both my sophomore and junior years at the private school with no issues. When my friends and I talked about school and what they were learning they were always well behind what I was doing in every class. The private school even went over "real life skills" things like handling finances, basic cooking and the like.

My senior year actually started in the middle of what was my junior year; I was able to make serious headway towards graduation early. At the start of the next traditional school year, I was turning 18 and I was able to make the decision to do home school. On home school I finished up my classes and my high school life in time to enroll in college for the spring semester, giving myself a jump start on my friends and classmates.

My parents taking me out of public school and putting me into a private school and home school was the best decision they could have made for me. I feel like I had a huge advantage in life going this route.

TL;DR - Parents saw terrible conditions at public school on parent teacher day. Moved me to private school. Best thing that ever happened to me and I am now successful in life and very happy.

Last edited by Kazer; 06-20-2012 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:57 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Ever thought about running on those ideas?
I'm an antisocial IT guy in one of the most politically corrupt states in the union, preaching major changes that would affect one of the biggest unions in the state (teacher's union). I would end up crucified in a scandal, or be in a tragic "accident". The best I could hope for is to be ignored.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:02 PM   #46 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daze View Post
I also think we're doing school wrong in the upper grades anyway. After grade 10 kids should be given a choice to go on a college track (no standard diploma's, all advanced classes), a vocational track (remember vocational schools? We don't need college dropouts, we do need welders, chefs, CAD specialists, and barbers) or given a diploma and wished the best of luck. Standardized learning is really, really stupid at that age if you really want kids to be prepared for life after high school given that so many people do so many different things after high school.

Every school should be REQUIRED to give EVERY child a "real world" math/finances class. How many kids max out a credit card within a year of going to college? How many know how to balance a checkbook/debit account? Know what APR% is? They SHOULD be taught relevant math in class BEFORE they need it. You need this class in grade 10 for the same reason you need sex ed in grade 6, knowledge before its too late.
I agree with that. I for one don't feel I really learned anything new in HS. I don't remember ever really feeling challenged, I got bored actually and my grades dropped from straight A's as a result. I started skipping trying to get stimulation doing other things, no bueno. The picture Kazer painted was my school system to the letter. Unruly kids, exascerbated teachers, and no accountability because the school was only interested in farming test scores to keep the doors open.

That is another point I wanted to touch on. The way testing is implemented is definitely a problem. The evidence can be found online I'm sure, but I don't see the point in wasting the time to look as I've seen it in the real world. It's ok for one to say it's just an excuse of course, that's their opinion and their free to have it.

The problem is the system as a whole and that's been touched on in other comments mentioning unions, etc. It's broken and it's failing. On the face of it yeah, I'll place some blame on parents but not in the way others have. A blame parents for essentially condoning the failure of the system and accepting the mediocre results. This is where parents should be standing up and saying "enough". This can be done through the PTA and the school board, this is also where politics come into play and so many run into a wall of resistance.

The real problem is, our public school system isn't designed to put out "the best and brightest" it's not putting out "thinkers" it is designed to put out laborers or "worker bees" and it has been pretty much from the start. What we're seeing now is the result of all of the things mentioned above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kazer View Post
My High School was very crowded, they had to bring in 10 portable classrooms and place them on one of the softball fields to have enough space to house all the students. As an example to the over-crowding, I was in a portable classroom for math. There were 52 kids in my class in that little trailer. I ended up sitting at the classroom sink on a bar stool because we could not fit any more desks in the room. I also had to share a book with another student at this sink. The book was made in the 1970's, and this was 1999. Now I am not trying to say the book itself was out dated, because it was math. What I am trying to say, is it had seen a ton of students in it's time. It had ripped or missing pages, the binding was cracked and was starting to fall apart. Pages were written in, high lighted, smeared, and rife with correction fluid and tape. It was a mess.
You pretty much described Orange County Public Schools to the letter. Two years ago the county liquidated many of the old portables I attended classes in for under $100 a piece so they could be replaced due to rot and mold issues. Yeah, they replaced them with portables...
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:06 PM   #47 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daze View Post
I'm an antisocial IT guy in one of the most politically corrupt states in the union, preaching major changes that would affect one of the biggest unions in the state (teacher's union). I would end up crucified in a scandal, or be in a tragic "accident". The best I could hope for is to be ignored.
Too bad, since the ideas sound solid. It's actually pretty close to what I went through with graduating early and getting an AAS. Almost done with my BAS, c/o my employer reimbursing tuition.
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:44 PM   #48 (permalink)
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Portables aren't such a big deal. My high school had 35 portables. Yup, they sucked during the winter. However, we never had classes larger than 32 or so and I actually had some good teachers.

Now, I didn't go to public school. I went to a catholic high school. Yup, we had uniforms but it wasn't a huge deal. Yup, we had students who liked to cause lots of trouble. I had friends who went to public school and I was surprised to hear stories a bit like the ones you guys have mentioned.

To hear you've got teachers that don't have degrees seems unusual as all of the teachers that are up here need to go to teachers' college with some sort of degree(elementary, middle and high school - but not private). The only exception is if you're teaching some sort of tech course and you've got a minimum of 9 years full-time experience.
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Old 06-20-2012, 03:54 PM   #49 (permalink)
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My experience in school left me with no respect for the system or even teachers themselves. Most of my memories of teachers are of them teaching out of the "big" textbook and than handing out dittos for homework and at the end of each quarter a test. Well if that's how your going to do it just send me home with the big textbook let me read the material and take the quizes at the end of each chapter than at the end of a quarter I'll come in a take your test. Why are my taxes paying for people who are less capable than the students. I definately agree with the saying those who can't do teach and those who can't teach teach gym. I've learned more now after my graduation in my own private research than I ever did in school.
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Old 06-20-2012, 04:03 PM   #50 (permalink)
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I feel different. I went to public school, had amazing teachers, reasonable class sizes, and a good learning experience.
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