In a lengthy story today, the Denver Post exposes the horror of the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) regimen. Purporting to show how Denver's Stedman Elementary School third graders are doing better on the CSAP test, what it actually reported was the intensity and high pressure put on eight and nine year old children to 'perform', the pep rally mentality of the CSAP season, the priority put on kids learning test taking skills and, of course, the inevitable result of teaching to the test.
Indeed, the article by Jeremy Meyer, begins by detailing graphic behavior by children that would, in any other situation, be termed mind-control and abusive:
On an early February morning at Stedman Elementary School, the pressure was high.These are little kids ... where is the joy of learning being instilled by this 'curriculum'? After reading this can there be any adults left who wonder why some kids end up hating school?
Two students vomited. A few cried at their desks. Another imagined goblins might get him if he failed.
It was the day the third-graders took their first Colorado Student Assessment Program exams, and the 8- and 9-year-olds were all nerves.
Students rubbed lucky "Zap CSAP" lapel pins. They repeated mantras of test-taking techniques and practiced positive self-talk taught to them by their teacher, Dawn Romero.
In a couple of paragraphs later in the story, it is reported how even parents are surprised at how difficult the tests are -- yet their children are expected, pressured to 'perform' well.
Before taking the CSAP, the third-graders took timed mock exams with questions teachers developed in the style of the official assessment. The school even threw a CSAP breakfast on the Saturday before the test, inviting parents to take a practice exam alongside their children.In addition, this description shows how the test is being 'gamed', that is the taking of mock exams so that the students 'know' the questions before the test. Take a look at this:
Many parents walked away surprised at the difficulty.
"The questions try to confuse you," said Robin Hill, whose son Royce is among the brightest.
To prepare for the reading test, they taught the students how to summarize readings, exposed them to material such as poetry and nonfiction and helped hone test-taking skills. Reading lessons often were given with a timer.Now, some of that might sound good, kids need to learn how to summarize what they read ... but the purpose is "to prepare for the reading test", "hone test-taking skills" and the "reading lessons often were given with a timer". CSAP and this kind of educational practice is going to give us a generation of people who hate reading, who don't know the happiness that can be found from reading a difficult book, talking about it in class and discovering its real meaning through thoughtfulness and reflection.
"Monitor your time, look for key words, read through your answers," Romero would tell her class.
No, it's really all about producing data for the Governor, a U.S. Senator and the school superintendent to point to as a reason to compete for more federal funds.
Also note that the article mentions that in addition to the three weeks of CSAP, the children are given "interim exams that DPS students take three times a year." Testing, testing, testing -- rallies for testing, bribery for testing, cheers for testing, paraphernalia for testing. Despite the 'warm, fuzzy' feeling for the teacher that the article tries to convey, the reality is a kind of techno-bizzaro world of propaganda, drudgery and high pressure that will ultimately turn these poor kids into cynics towards learning after the eight years to come of constant testing.
And the pressure on the kids will only get worse, because it is the goal of the education establishments in Colorado and Washington, D.C. to make teacher pay and jobs dependent upon how well the students test -- not how much their young charges understand content, not how much they appreciate real learning, not how well they can function as educated adults, but on how well they test.
Thanks for the report Denver Post; it was an eye opener for anyone not taken in by the top-down elitism of CSAP and the so-called "accountability" theory.
But it was also a very sad article showing just how much our children are being manipulated for the political ends of educrats and politicians.