Fix­ing teach­ing and testing

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

In their quest to pro­duce ef­fi­cient read­ers and writ­ers, Vir­ginia ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials are ne­glect­ing the most im­por­tant part of young chil­dren — their minds [“What is mak­ing a first-year Fair­fax teacher re­con­sider her fu­ture? Lots of testing,” Metro, June 8]. Ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, prob­lem-solv­ing and the use of all of one’s senses should be the fo­cus of any kinder­garten cur­ricu­lum. In early child­hood par­lance, we call this play. This con­cept has been lost in Vir­ginia. Brains grow big­ger when chil­dren role­play, cre­ate sce­nar­ios and solve prob­lems. Recit­ing let­ters, sounds and num­bers ac­ti­vate only a child’s most ba­sic level of think­ing.

The ar­ti­cle alarm­ingly de­scribed teach­ing skills that are not de­vel­op­men­tally ap­pro­pri­ate. Kin­der­gart­ners are only just be­gin­ning to un­der­stand past and fu­ture. Ask­ing them to sum­ma­rize events in a story is akin to ask­ing a 4-month-old to speak.

Euro­pean ed­u­ca­tors seem to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of play. For­mal school­ing there does not typ­i­cally begin un­til age 6 or 7. Un­til then, chil­dren are given the free­dom to be chil­dren while learn­ing ex­po­nen­tially about the world around them.

Mary A. Nowin­ski, Ster­ling

The June 9 ed­i­to­rial “A is for as­sess­ment,” which ad­vo­cated im­proved stu­dent testing, was right: The rem­edy for us­ing poor data is not to avoid data but rather to im­prove the data. How­ever, fo­cus­ing on data was the wrong is­sue.

Our public schools are not un­der­per­form­ing be­cause stan­dard­ized tests pro­vide poor data; stan­dard­ized tests high­light ar­eas of fail­ures but not the causes. Schools fail be­cause there is not stan­dard­ized in­struc­tion; each teacher is a sep­a­rate sys­tem. It is supremely un­pop­u­lar to say that our ed­u­ca­tion fail­ure is a teach­ing fail­ure; it is much eas­ier to ar­gue about stan­dard­ized tests. That must change.

Some teach­ers are suc­cess­ful; schools need to un­der­stand how they suc­ceed and copy what they do right. Un­til the sys­tems stan­dard­ize, su­per­vise and au­dit teach­ing, schools’ re­sults will be in­con­sis­tent. The at­ten­tion (and money) must be put into train­ing our teach­ers to teach con­sis­tently.

Karl Veit, Ar­ling­ton

The June 9 ed­i­to­rial “A is for as­sess­ment” was ac­cu­rate and needed. How­ever, one ex­tremely valu­able ben­e­fit of testing was over­looked: cur­ricu­lum and method­ol­ogy anal­y­sis. While there are nu­mer­ous rea­sons to eval­u­ate stu­dent achieve­ment, test de­sign should also pro­vide for feed­back lead­ing to op­ti­mal in­struc­tional strate­gies.

Jack Fretwell, Re­ston The writer is pres­i­dent of Star­board Train­ing Sys­tems.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.