Topics in Early Childhood Education

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Good and the Bad


I was reminded recently about how there seems to be opposition in all things. We built a deck last summer underneath a very large and very old apricot tree. As much as I like apricots, I was wishing the blossoms would freeze this spring (which many of them did when it was 29!). The reason for my desire was that there can be so many apricots on that tree and they drop to the ground for several weeks. Our back yard smells like a winery. Also, I didn't want them falling on my new deck. The glorious shade provided by the tree is compromised during July because you might be fielding apricots when you are sitting underneath.
We talked in our Cognition and Creativity class this week about standardized tests. While they are usually inappropriate for early childhood, there is place for them at the table in later years. They do provide a framework and norm for learning the core curriculum. Unfortunately, they can be used as a single indicator of a child's learning. In the early education field we know that multiple measures must be used to monitor a child's progress and development. Just like the tree, the shade and the deck provide a great escape during the summer (basic information provided by standardized assessments), sometimes we get hit with apricots (major decisions made solely on standardized test scores).

28 Comments:

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is definitely a place for standardized tests. They create national norms and frameworks that allow teachers and students around the country to be on the same page. However, sometimes lawmakers rely too much on the results of standardized tests and fail to recognize the importance of developmentally appropriate assessments. Standardized tests are not capable of assessing each and every child appropriately. Some children may respond very well to multiple choice questions and others may not. Therefore, standardized test results should be taken with a grain of salt and should not be the sole determinant of school funding, level placement, and individual abilities. Sara Kate O:FCS5170

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a child, I was one who would become overwhelmed when I would hear that there was a test day coming up. Even though the teachers tried to tell me it was nothing to be stressed about, just the word test stresses me out. I think there is no way around standardized tests and I do believe they a necessary form of assessment for children. I just wish there was a better way to test a child according to their multiple intelligences. If we could do this, then it could give us a better picture of where a child was in all aspects of curriculum for their level of development.

 
At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOPS! I forgot to leave my name. I was the one who just talked about my testing anxiety and the need for test to acknowledge multiple intelligences. Adrienne Green FCS 5170

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standardized tests should only be a part of assessment and development as they do not reflect how the child is learning, their progress through out the year, or their social/emotional development. Yes, they can show what a child knows, but what about those kids that are just bad test takers, but have the knowledge that can be applied to real life situations - that would be a better indicator - testing in real life situations as to knowledge gained/learned. Rebecca M FCS5170

 
At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standardized test scores do have their place but since they only measure a couple of our intelligences we must be very careful how we interpret the results. I always scored high on math but I didn't really like it. When I began going to college,after a 33 year break. I was pleasantly surprised I was able to go right into Math 1010. I guess math is one of my talents, lucky me. Vicki H. FCS 5170

 
At 2:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Join Tomorrow's Youth Organization as a fan at facebook.com/tomorrowsyouth. The organization brings much needed early childhood education practices and opportunities for up to 500 kids, many of whom are from refugee camps in Nablus in the West Bank. Join as a fan to show your support and invite your friends. These kids deserve to be heard, to develop, and it's you that can do it. Thanks!

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As one who always scored very well on standardized tests, I had no problem with them. In fact, my three sons always scored in the 98th or 99th percentile in overall rankings every test they took. Again, what possibly could be wrong with them? Now the fact that I frequently referred to my children as my mentally gifted morons could probably be taken as a clue of some sort. Perhaps these tests were not really giving a picture of the "whole child" Just as you are worried about too many apricots, I worry this summer about not enough pumpkins and apples. Just as there are lots of different types of fruits and vegetables that require different methods of proper growth and development, there are even more different types of boys and girls that require different types of evaluations unique to their needs and abilities. Standardized tests may be a good starting point. However, they should not be the only measurement tool used. KarrieV. FCS 5170

 
At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Marissa Taylor said...

I love the analogy you made with the tree and the standardized tests! I think that is so true and what a great way to explain it!-Marissa Taylor (Gardner) FCS5170

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standardized tests have always made me a nervous wreck. I don't agree with standardized tests, because they are not always accurate in reflecting what a student knows. Many students forget everything because of test anxiety. Some kids are good test takers, others are not. They should not be the only measurement tool a person uses. Sally Y. FCS 5170

 
At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is difficult to test a young child using standarized testing and we should never rely on that one piece of information. To find a child's strengths and weakneses, professionals need to look at several formal and informal measures including health history, parent information, work samples, and observation. Robin FCS5170

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 110% that standardized tests are usually inappropriate for early childhood age children. I think standardized tests still create many problems and I wish more and more teachers would use other forms of assessment when assessing young children. My thing is with these tests they are so black and white, they do not take into account the various learning styles. It has been shown over the years people take in information in different ways. In an ideal world standardized tests would somehow test everyone in the different learning areas, making standardized tests not so black and white. Leslie M. FCS 5170

 
At 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree that there is a place for standardized tests, however I also think that that place doesn't come often. Test scores should not determine the funding that a school gets and I also do not believe that children should be judged by those tests. I know that for me those tests made we want to throw up even as I got into high school and that never once did I do as well as I could have.I think there are many kids out there who have a hard time taking tests and that the very thought of a standardized test freaks them out, so for the most part I don't think they are an entirely accurate snapshot of the children's capabilites. That being said I still believe they can be used, but that they should not be used for funding because the tests don't reflect entirely what the kids deserve or need.
Kristin Unwin: FCS 5170

 
At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the comparison of the apricot tree and the deck and the shade in regards to standardized tests. Although these tests can be considered inadequate in many ways there still are some pro's that can come out of a simple standardized test or analysis. These tests are truly just good for a more general analysis and should be taken with a grain of salt as sara's post just mentioned as well. We are all different and all develop at different times and levels so it is not fair to categorize individuals together.
Natasha McKinnon FCS 5170

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was one who suffered from standardized testing. I had (and still do) have horrible test anxiety. I freeze up when I hear the word TEST. I agree that standardized testing does a lot of good in setting standards and creating frameworks, but I don't think the school system should be basing their funding decisions on the test scores. What if you had a class full of children with test anxiety? You don't get a really good idea of what they actually know. Aubree A. FCS 5170

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the deck and the apricot tree! Apricot tree's remind me of being a kid! My grandma had a great big apricot tree in her backyard and as a kid we would go pick and make ourselves sick from eating them!! I'm sure she had the same complaints about them falling and rotting everywhere, but as kids you really don't notice that stuff!
But, anyway. I find that standardized tests really should only be used for older children. I can remember feeling like a complete outcast and failure as a young child because I always had so much anxiety while I would take a test and not know what was being asked. There are far too many practical ways that children need and should be assessed rather than through standardized tests. I believe that in today's world, a person do SO much more if they're able to pass the "life" test rather than standardized test. Megan S FCS5170

 
At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the apricot analogy is brilliant, and so characteristic of all of life's circumstances... you must take the good with the bad. The good of standardized testing in obtaining information about a child's general grasp of curriculum, is countered with the ineffectuality of culturally and individually inappropriate tests that don't reflect the "whole" child. Education is like a box of chocolates, and standardized tests can be like those coconut neugaty things that nobody likes very much. Amy M.:FCS 5170

 
At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although standardized testing in the upper grades can have its perks, I find that to often teachers drive their curriculum only for the outcome of the tests. This causes students added stress and drill and kill methods of learning. If all teachers would use numerous forms of assesments and instruction our students would enjoy learning and retain the information better.
Megan L. 5170

 
At 6:10 AM, Blogger April Churchill Marinaro said...

I couldn't agree more about the good and the bad going hand in hand, and standardized tests are a perfect example. While they may provide information about areas of strength and weakness within a child's academic ability, unfortunately, the tests don't always reflect strengths outside of the child's linguistic and mathematical capabilities. The lectures and discussions we've had throughout class have made me more aware of the different intelligences our children posses and how we must embrace these unique strengths. I've learned so much over the last two weeks! Thank you for a great class. April C. FCS 5170

 
At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that this there is no great answer this issue of standardized tests. There needs to be ways that a teacher is accountable for their students and also needs to be a way to see if students understand concepts. I do believe that there needs to more of an emphasis on some of the other forms of observation, rather than the standardized tests that are made by companies. I felt as a young student so much pressure when I had to take big tests in class that I didn’t feel that it didn’t always show what I really did know. I think that a teacher needs to use many forms of formal and informal assessments to ensure that he/she really know what levels the students are really on to guide the teacher’s instruction. Carol Davis FCS 5170

 
At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think although standardized tests can offer a snapshot of how a child is performing, or how a school is doing overall, they should not be used to assess the student overall. I think that is where things have gone wrong, is that these standardized tests are used to assess the whole child, where they can really only be used to test certain domains. Therefore I think standardized tests are almost a necessary evil.
Virginia S. FCS 5170

 
At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with this analogy. Good things can happen with the results of standardized tests, especially if we can use them as a way to assess our own teaching methods and improve our approaches accordingly. But as we've discussed in class, such tests are only a snapshot, only one view of a child whose intelligence is made up of infinetly more facets than one performance on a test could ever indicate. I think it is so important to remember that, educators and government officials alike. Sara Astle FCS 5170

 
At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think standardized tests do serve a good purpose when analyzing a school as a whole, or when assessing how much one already knows, but I believe that students should not be analyzed by how well they do on a standardized test. There are other ways to for students to show their success and intellctual abilities.

Sarajane B.
FCS 5170

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed learning about the different aspects of standardized testing. These tests have their pros and cons and it was interesting to learn about each. We understand that standardized tests are really the only currently developed ways of finding out how students are comparing to each other. Unfortunately, some teachers take this to the extreme and make this their only assessment method. As a horrible test-taker, I have grown up realizing that standardized tests have not always reflected my abilities. I got good grades and graduated high school with honors because I was lucky enough to have teachers grading by school work and homework, and not just assessments. Experiencing this has definitely helped me to understand why it is important for me as a future teacher, to find other ways to assess my students. Kayla H. FCS 5170

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Jenica said...

Standardized tests have always been to my advantage in school. I very much loved SAT week when we only did timed tests everyday.

Although I loved them, I don't think that they are appropriate for everyone. With that in mind, they are still important to set a norm, but that is it, they shouldn't judge each person individually.

I like the idea that standardized tests are used to track a groups progress and improvement.

In high school and jr. high, I don't think the tests are as much as a problem mainly because the tests match the curriculum being taught. If the curriculum was less academic based and more rounded, then it wouldn't be fair to make kids be tested on things they have not yet learned.

Bytheway, beautiful deck!

Jenica J: 5170

 
At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I definitely believe that standardized tests have their time and place but also see the limitations they create. I always enjoyed standarized tests because I was good as choosing the most logical answer but the down-side was that I didn't really know the information. I was just a good guesser. I think it's essential to embrace the positive aspects of these formal tests but also, be open to the idea of multiple intelligences and the many different learning styles that contribute to a child's way of absorbing information. When the balance of these two types of learning and testing are found, that's when true learning can take place. Laura R. FCS 5170

 
At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that standardized tests have their pro's and con's and that it would be more beneficial to be able to test a child in other areas that standardized tests fail to test on, such as musical intelligences and interpersonal or intrapersonal intelligences, etc. Even though I was a fairly good test taker in high school I still remember the ACT/SAT tests as being a way to compare my score with my older sibling's scores and amongst my friends. For me it was never about how well I did as an individual but how well I did compared to my peers and siblings. Lisa L. FCS-5170

 
At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes there is a time and place for standardize testing, yet not so much in the early years of schooling. I to was scarred in elementary school, and still to this day as a grandparent, say the word test, it sends shivers down my spine.I have witnessed children bubble in patterns on their end of year testing, how can this be one od the only determinants of teacher success, and government funding, there must be a better way.Allison Higgs 5170

 
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