Minnesota needs new student testing regimen

  • Article by: Brenda Cassellius
  • Updated: April 4, 2013 - 9:37 PM

What we’ve been doing in Minnesota serves neither students nor our workforce needs.

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texas_technomanApr. 5, 13 4:43 AM

I remember taking the Iowa Basic Skills test every three years in school (along with a bunch of other standardized tests); but I don't remember a lot of traumatized classmates. Maybe we need something in the curriculum to toughen them up!

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jsmithxcApr. 5, 13 5:07 AM

Can't hit the target so move the target. Please tell us more about these new tests. Do they exist? Who will develop them (at huge cost no doubt)? Who will pay for their development? How do we know they will do a better job than the current tests? Are we just changing the rules again to try to find something that meets our current educational system rather than fixing the flaws in this system? A political commentary with no educational meat.

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LakeliverApr. 5, 13 8:02 AM

Why not use the example of the top educational systems in the world, such as Finland? There's plenty of "educational meat" there, but instead republicans with an axe to grind against teachers want to look at the continually failing systems in places like Florida and Texas for exemplars. In Finland and other places that succeed with kids, they keep politics and the agenda of politicians out of education and leave it up to the professionals (the educators) to get the job done. I can't think of a better recommendation for improvement here, too.

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beebee82Apr. 5, 1310:11 AM

Let's be honest, here. The kids who are failing these tests aren't the ones going home in tears. They've never been taught by their parents to value education that much. And while, yes, kids tire of the rote memorization schtick that happens for weeks on end and aren't all that thrilled about it, neither are they being emotionally "damaged" as our education commissioner would have us believe. (Unless we're talking about the top 1 percent in their class who bemoan missing valedictorian to another top notch student).

The added stress comes from the teachers, who are so pressured to get every kid at proficiency levels, they project their fears and frustrations onto the students. Back in my day, teachers would tell me those Iowa basic tests had no bearing on my grade so don't sweat it. These days they try to convince kids their futures will be forever harmed if they're not proficient in math by eighth grade.

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otherjulieApr. 5, 1312:04 PM

Cassellius is right on here - bad tests cause bad instruction. The tests the state requires communicate to students and teachers the results you are looking for. As a teacher, my job is to deliver those results. Frankly, you've been asking for rote memorization, mile wide inch deep skills, and a narrow focus on reading, math and a little science. If that isn't what you want, don't blame teachers, change the test.

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bouchevilleApr. 5, 13 1:00 PM

" From article---"The difference is that students would take tests that actually matter — tests that would better measure their readiness for college and career; tests that would help them understand their aptitudes and interests;" This is the main idea of the story and it's spot on. Tests that matter. NOT rote memorization tests tests that prove how well one can remember information. We to extract every talent we can out of kids and build on those skills. Until we start listening to educators about education and stop listening to business influences or "reformers", education will not change for the better.

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garagewineApr. 5, 13 2:32 PM

"Even after implementation of the current Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma (GRAD) exams, Minnesota’s graduation rate has not significantly increased."---That's a feature, not a bug. Handing out diplomas that are not legitimately earned benefit neither students nor their teachers.

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cutthebullApr. 5, 13 2:38 PM

Memo to those designing the tests, from a teacher (me): I love higher education - I have a couple of degrees myself - but NEWS FLASH: not everyone is going to go to a four-year school and then go on to get a PhD like you did. The Minnesota math test in particular was designed by math majors, for math majors. Tests are good if they measure the right things; the problem is that they do not reflect the reality that people wind up in very different destinations in life. To the commenter who said he was never traumatized by the Iowa Basics: those tests didn't count for anything. The GRAD test determines whether or not a kid graduates, regardless of how well they have done in actual coursework in high school. A little more pressure there, I think.

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comment229Apr. 5, 13 4:17 PM

I have taken the time to study the education system in Finland. From what I can tell, they do two things to make their system of education extremely successful that our system fails at miserably. First, they encourage advanced degrees for teachers, have immediate remediation help in every classroom, and keep political mandates as far away from their education system that they can. But I don't think that is the reason why they do well. Their society as a whole values education. As you read some of the comments here, can you say the same? Test all you want, there is a certain segment of our population, that don't care whether they succeed in school or not. But don't believe me, talk to some of the school kids themselves. They will tell you how absolutely shallow some of their classmates are. This is nothing new. You want change in education? Start here.

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jjsbrwApr. 5, 13 5:59 PM

beebee82Apr. 5, 1310:11 AM Back in my day, teachers would tell me those Iowa basic tests had no bearing on my grade so don't sweat it. ---------------------------------- Did those teachers back in your day have their pay, evaluation, and job security based on the scores of their students?

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