Further, writing a persuasive letter grade 1 of the tests being used consist primarily or solely of multiple-choice items, which are cheaper to develop, administer, and score than are tests that include constructed responses such as essays.
You should have a further selfish motivation. While it is true that the US Department of Education is now issuing waivers on some of the provisions of the law to certain states, those states must agree to other provisions that will have as deleterious an effect on real student learning as did No Child Left Behind—we have already seen that in public schools, most notably in high schools.
By Kenneth Bernstein You are a college professor. Thus, a teacher might prepare the student to answer those questions in a format that is not good writing by any standard.
My teaching was not evaluated on the basis of how well my students did, but I felt I had a responsibility to prepare them for the examination in a way that could result in their obtaining college credit. I have just retired as a high school teacher. But many of the courses still focus on the AP exam, and that focus can be as detrimental to learning as the kinds of tests imposed under No Child Left Behind.
I saw several problems. Please do not blame those of us in public schools for how unprepared for higher education the students arriving at your institutions are. If a student hits the points on the rubric, he or she gets the points for that rubric.
They may be very bright. There is no consideration of grammar or rhetoric, nor is credit given or a score reduced based on the format of the answer.
I mentioned that at least half my students were in AP classes. Kenneth Bernstein is a retired, award-winning social studies teacher who lives near Washington, DC. If you teach either in a medical school or in programs that offer courses required as part of the pre-med curriculum, do you want the fatality rates of patients treated by the doctors whom you have taught to be used to judge your performance?
If it takes a more realistic five minutes per paper, the total is more than thirteen hours. I would like to believe that I prepared them to think more critically and to present cogent arguments, but I could not simultaneously prepare them to do well on that portion of the test and teach them to write in a fashion that would properly serve them at higher levels of education.
You need to inform those creating the policies about the damage they are doing to our young people, and how they are undermining those institutions in which you labor to make a difference in the minds and the lives of the young people you teach as well as in the fields in which you do your research.
Even when a state has tests that include writing, the level of writing required for such tests often does not demand that higher-level thinking be demonstrated, nor does it require proper grammar, usage, syntax, and structure. Let me end by offering my deepest apologies, not because I may have offended some of you by what I have written, but because even those of us who understood the problems that were being created were unable to do more to stop the damage to the education of our young people.
Remember, high schools also have tests—No Child Left Behind and its progeny such as Race to the Top require testing at least once in high school in reading and math.
The explosive growth of these classes, driven in part by high school rankings like the yearly Challenge Index created by Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, is also responsible for some of the problems you will encounter with students entering your institutions.
Thus, students arriving in our high school lacked experience and knowledge about how to do the kinds of writing that are expected at higher levels of education. It is for this that I apologize, even as I know in my heart that there was little more I could have done.
For much of the content I would give students summary information, sufficient to answer multiple-choice questions and to get some of the points on rubrics for the free response questions. Troubling Assessments My primary course as a teacher was government, and for the last seven years that included three or four out of six sections of Advanced Placement AP US Government and Politics.
Imagine that I assign all my students a written exercise.
He offered the following: In high-need schools, resources not directly related to testing are eliminated: My students, mostly tenth-graders, were quite bright, but already I was seeing the impact of federal education policy on their learning and skills.
I blogged, I wrote letters and op-eds for newspapers, and I spent a great deal of time speaking with and lobbying those in a position to influence policy, up to and including sitting members of the US House of Representatives and Senate and relevant members of their staffs.
I served several times as a reader for the examination that follows the course. Which is one reason I am no longer in the classroom.Thank you, thank you for your clear explanation of the tragedy that has befallen our educational system. I am a retired high school English teacher () who left with 30 years experience partly because the administration made it clear that it did not respect or value the expertise of experienced teachers.
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