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ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 03:46 AM
I don't know about other parents around AW, but the arrival of spring brings with it, for us, standardized testing at the local public charter school.

This is my first experience with the notorious AIMS test. That said, the practice materials printed from the state DOE and sent home by the school are jaw-droppingly bad.

Illogical math questions, science questions that suggest something always has "weight" in space (guess the AIMS test minions haven't heard anything about gravity), grammatical errors on the language arts portion that would make most of the folks here recoil in horror...and on...and on...

I spoke with his teacher after school today. She is equally horrified and convinced that actual knowledge of the subjects tested results in greater difficulty taking the test.

We've resolved to contact the DOE and lodge formal complaints about the test materials--not that I even hold out the faintest glimmer of hope that it will matter to anyone.

:Shrug:

I send my sons to school. There, they find illogic and error. My oldest is routinely picked on by other kids for being smart, quiet, and dignified.

I like both of their teachers. None of this is the fault of either instructor. The material used is part of the problem, and the rest is a result of other common problems in large groups of people (i.e. mob psychology, group think, etc).

I'm trying really hard to tell myself they're learning a valuable lesson through this exposure to complete and utter nonsense. I'm trying to tell myself they're learning coping skills which will be useful later in life.

I'm trying even harder to keep my signing hand from filing another affidavit of intent to homeschool and returning to our previous arrangement...

Gahh....

All the same, I feel extreme guilt, because it really does feel like sticking them in the proverbial round room and telling them to pee in the corner.

Scoody
03-02-2010, 03:58 AM
Having gone to public schools until I graduated I resolved to do one thing, send my off spring to PRIVATE schools. I hate the spineless, "we must be neutral" attitude of the public schools. We must do away with Christmas but teach the children how Ramadan is and all that other stuff I did not to deal with and my daughters were not confused by. My kids went to public school for a couple of years and I was shocked at how much social stupidity I had to unteach at home.

Mr Flibble
03-02-2010, 04:07 AM
My oldest is routinely picked on by other kids for being smart, quiet, and dignified. My son gets picked on for being a smartarse - because if he knows the answer he can't keep quiet about it, and he normally knows the answer. The teacher isn't too fond of him in religious education lessons either :D
And yeah, we're gearing up for NCTs ( National Curriculum Tests). At least they're spelt right though :D

backslashbaby
03-02-2010, 04:20 AM
We had a substitute in our English class for a few months due to the original teacher's pregnancy. My class started failing everything and the basic class started doing really well :)

We got it sorted when our teacher came back. The tests were all T/F, and there was no way to answer T or F with such a complex subject, we thought. The sub thought anyone in their right mind would see where she was going, but we couldn't do it :)

Gotta love overly simplified material + smartypants kids. Oh, it's a lovely mix ;)

I don't know what you do about it. If you can show they are just wrong, surely someone will listen! Good luck!!

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 05:01 AM
My son gets picked on for being a smartarse - because if he knows the answer he can't keep quiet about it, and he normally knows the answer. The teacher isn't too fond of him in religious education lessons either :D
And yeah, we're gearing up for NCTs ( National Curriculum Tests). At least they're spelt right though :D

My son's teacher is a pretty good sport about everything. All the same, I'm not sure the kids are so sporting about it. My sons are well ahead of the material they are covering in school. So, I send in material and tutor them after school/on the weekends/send them to supplemental programs through local colleges/science center/etc.

She does ask him not to use certain terminologies in math, science and grammar, though. Mainly because it confuses the other kids.

They don't cover much in the way of history or geography. Of course, this isn't a huge shock. It's an American public school after all (even if it is technically a public charter). As far as most schools here go (and we did try private at one point--I found them to be lacking in ways similar to their public cousins) it seems like history and geography consist of learning the names of the states and some facts about history from roughly the 18th century to present. Then, shortly after elementary ends, right as high school begins, everyone decides to let the kids in on the big secret--that the world is older than the 18th century and the rest of the world actually exists.

That's okay. I cover those topics at home. Actually, I cover everything at home. I'll probably have to do that and/or hire tutors from now to the point they enter college.

It still boggles my mind that actually having a grasp of the subjects covered could harm a person's chances of acing a test. But, that seems to fit our state rather well.

Yeshanu
03-02-2010, 05:04 AM
I'll be honest. If I were in your place, I'd be homeschooling. I did it for much of my son's elementary years, and he's heading to grad school in the fall.

And he thinks for himself. :)

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 05:39 AM
I'll be honest. If I were in your place, I'd be homeschooling. I did it for much of my son's elementary years, and he's heading to grad school in the fall.

And he thinks for himself. :)

Technically, I'm still homeschooling. I'm still buying the materials, I'm still working with them morning/evening/weekends, etc.

School is really just a place they go for a few hours each day. My youngest loves it, and would probably implode if removed. He loves his teacher to bits and has friends (although, he's picked up some bad habits, I must say). The teacher tutors him after school one day each week--just for fun. He and a couple of the other advanced kids stay after to do higher level work. He adores it all and it gives him some "away" time from the siblings.

During regular class time, though, I'm afraid it's a lot of review even for my little guy. My oldest, on the other hand, his head may explode if he's left there much longer. Again, no fault of the teacher. She's a wonderful lady. He doesn't even do the homework for class anymore. He just does the work I give him, which is generally harder and more complex, anyway.

No easy answers. They have expressed an interest in sticking it out. So, I'm trying to tell myself it's okay and won't do any permanent damage.

In the meantime, though, I'm still every bit the homeschooling parent I was before. I just have less time to do it in. LOL

Yeshanu
03-02-2010, 06:30 AM
On the other side, my daughter sounds like your youngest, and went to school from kindergarten on. She needed to be with other kids her own age.

She's in third year uni, and all the bs from the administrators and the very occasional bad teacher doesn't seem to have scarred her much.

I can't speak for the teachers, though... :D

The most important factor in any child's schooling is the home factor, and it sounds like you've got it well under control. However, I'd still speak up about tests that had grammar errors in them.

Hugs. Parenting's not easy, even when the schools are great.

benbradley
03-02-2010, 07:15 AM
Are these the sample tests? Which one(s) were sent home?
http://www.ade.state.az.us/standards/AIMS/SampleTests/Default.asp



I send my sons to school. There, they find illogic and error. My oldest is routinely picked on by other kids for being smart, quiet, and dignified.
You can tell him he doesn't have to offer them jobs when he's a successful businessman and they come to him looking for work. :)



I'm trying really hard to tell myself they're learning a valuable lesson through this exposure to complete and utter nonsense. I'm trying to tell myself they're learning coping skills which will be useful later in life.
This is horrible. This should only be learned through Dilbert cartoons. :)

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 08:03 AM
On the other side, my daughter sounds like your youngest, and went to school from kindergarten on. She needed to be with other kids her own age.

She's in third year uni, and all the bs from the administrators and the very occasional bad teacher doesn't seem to have scarred her much.

I can't speak for the teachers, though... :D

The most important factor in any child's schooling is the home factor, and it sounds like you've got it well under control. However, I'd still speak up about tests that had grammar errors in them.

Hugs. Parenting's not easy, even when the schools are great.

Yes, your daughter does sound like my younger boy. Nothing phases him and he would wilt without social interaction.

My oldest notices everything, takes it all to heart, etc. On the bright side, the errors/odd wording in the text/practice tests give us a chance to go over things in greater depth. I mean, regarding the science, it wasn't that it was purely incorrect, because gravity exists in space and therefore it still has "weight" just not the same weight, but it was poorly worded and would have suggested to the casual observer that weight stays the same at all points under all conditions. So, it opened the door to a discussion of mass, density, weight as a product of mass x acceleration of gravity, etc. Whether that helps him pass the test or not... oh well, but at least something good came of it.

The math on the other hand was positively loopy (read: just plain wrong--not kind of wrong...totally wrong) and the grammar was a disaster. I'm glad the teacher feels the same way.

It would feel like the mayor of crazytown if I was the only one looking at the material and saying, "Hey, wait a minute."

And yes, even with a perfect school and perfect teacher parenting would be a challenge. Educating children, keeping them safe, sane, and reasonably healthy is a huge task. In the end, I guess we do our best and still end up with the possibility that they'll end up on a therapist's couch lamenting our behavior ;)

Eh, we tried, right?

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 08:14 AM
Are these the sample tests? Which one(s) were sent home?
http://www.ade.state.az.us/standards/AIMS/SampleTests/Default.asp

You can tell him he doesn't have to offer them jobs when he's a successful businessman and they come to him looking for work. :)



This is horrible. This should only be learned through Dilbert cartoons. :)

Hmmm... right test, but it looks like we have different samples. The teacher said they originated from the DOE website. Maybe there's a different download spot the school has and the public doesn't?

I have no idea. This is the correct test, though.

Also, I have no idea why the ITBS and other nationally recognized, standardized tests (ones without so many looming questions with regard to validity) have been dropped by public schools in favor of the AIMS.

Private schools in the area still use the other standardized tests as a measure of acheivement. :Shrug: Of course, I say this with the understanding that no test is perfect.


ETA: Here is a link with the math test. Check out the 4th grade test, particularly items 17 & 18. Now, maybe I'm a nit-picker, but 17 struck me as being particularly odd. Mainly, because there is a pattern formed in the table with the boy giving treats 2 or 3 on alternating days. If the pattern continues, which the table suggests, the boy wouldn't have treats to give the dog on Sunday. Instead, the study guide tells you that you're to assume the boy drops the pattern, gives three two days and is left with one on Sunday. While it is true that this *could* happen it isn't really predicted by the table provided.

http://www.ade.state.az.us/standards/AIMS/AIMSSTGuides/

In other words, remembering this is just one example, I don't think the test is measuring what they think it is measuring--if these tests are representative of the final test.

It's one thing to slap a test together, it's another thing to make sure you're not testing children on how well they can take tests and/or adapt to the caprices of the test's creator.

I doubt my son will fail. On the practice tests he's gotten 90+ percent correct. The point is, though, I know where he's at in math, etc. I know he very nearly maxes out the tests at 100% all the time and I've also had him tested on other standardized tests with scores in the 98th percentile and upwards. I want this silly AIMS test to reflect this same information I know to be true.

Also, I have very real worries about the way this test might impact kids who are on the borderline. What if a poorly constructed test item (or three or four) is the difference between feelings of success and failure? What if this unfairly impacts teachers who really are doing a good job despite the crappy material?

benbradley
03-02-2010, 10:15 AM
Hmmm... right test, but it looks like we have different samples. The teacher said they originated from the DOE website. Maybe there's a different download spot the school has and the public doesn't?
I hadn't heard that test name before so I googled it with the word test, and got to that website.

Also, I have no idea why the ITBS and other nationally recognized, standardized tests (ones without so many looming questions with regard to validity) have been dropped by public schools in favor of the AIMS.

Private schools in the area still use the other standardized tests as a measure of acheivement. :Shrug: Of course, I say this with the understanding that no test is perfect.
My old, grumpy and cynical mind immediately comes to the conclusion that some person in that state has gone into business making tests and is in bed with (woops, I'll keep this a squeaky clean G rated thread) in cahoots with one or more legislators or members of the board of education, and that's how this test gets used over something more widely used, more reliable, etc.

Yeshanu
03-02-2010, 10:16 AM
Also, I have very real worries about the way this test might impact kids who are on the borderline. What if a poorly constructed test item (or three or four) is the difference between feelings of success and failure? What if this unfairly impacts teachers who really are doing a good job despite the crappy material?

I have very real concerns about standardized tests, period. Every school has a different population of students to educate. A school in a poor district, with mostly immigrant kids whose first languague is not English, cannot and should not be teaching the same things as a school where the kids were born and raised in the district, and have had access to books and computers since they were born.

IMO, standardized tests serve two groups: 1) the loonines who think the purpose of education is to turn out clones of themselves, and 2) the test makers. Those tests represent big bucks that your school board could have spent on things like books and teachers' salaries. [/rant]



Eh, we tried, right?

And when you get to my stage in life (youngest is 19), you finally realize that you did a pretty damn good job after all, and the "experts" didn't manage to mess your kids up one bit, because you're the one that did most of the educating.

Pyrohawk
03-02-2010, 10:24 AM
AIMS....it sounds familiar but I don't think I had to take that one when I went through school. I remember the "Proficiency Tests" and the OGT or Ohio Graduation Test.

Proficiency tests are sillyness. The only thing I can tell you is don't stress. It doesn't hurt anything for them to take them and if they are intelligent children, which it sounds like they are, they'll have no problem breezing through them. It's not supposed to be a judge of the students level per say....its basically a pass/fail kind of thing, either the student is above the expected level or the student isn't.
The reason for these tests....is money and to judge the kind of instruction they are getting more than the students themselves. The average test scores for the school affects indirectly and sometimes directly the amount of funding the school recieves from the state. Also, its useful in identifying problem schools where the education the students are recieveing is well below average.

But yes, they aren't really helpful for the kids in any way that I can really see. And essentially they are teaching test taking skills....which, while pointless in the long run. Is exactly what they will be doing through all their schooling including college. So think of it as college prep.

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 10:30 AM
I have very real concerns about standardized tests, period. Every school has a different population of students to educate. A school in a poor district, with mostly immigrant kids whose first languague is not English, cannot and should not be teaching the same things as a school where the kids were born and raised in the district, and have had access to books and computers since they were born.

IMO, standardized tests serve two groups: 1) the loonines who think the purpose of education is to turn out clones of themselves, and 2) the test makers. Those tests represent big bucks that your school board could have spent on things like books and teachers' salaries. [/rant]


Amen to that rant, and:

"In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.
Friedrich Nietzsche"

The purpose of education is to create effective and creative thinkers--not clones. But, education boards don't seem to have any concept of this. That's why they're so adept at turning the process of educating the next generation into a boring, painful, and sometimes humiliating chore that kills the spirit and numbs the mind. What I've stressed with my kids and any kids that I come into contact with is that knowledge and exploration are ends in their own right. //endrant.. :)



And when you get to my stage in life (youngest is 19), you finally realize that you did a pretty damn good job after all, and the "experts" didn't manage to mess your kids up one bit, because you're the one that did most of the educating.

I'm hoping that's what I'll find. Since I'm in the middle of the process I don't say anything positive without taking part in preventative measures like stroking a rabbit's foot, knocking on wood, or rubbing the belly of a nearby Buddha statue. :D

backslashbaby
03-02-2010, 12:09 PM
Hmmm... right test, but it looks like we have different samples. The teacher said they originated from the DOE website. Maybe there's a different download spot the school has and the public doesn't?

I have no idea. This is the correct test, though.

Also, I have no idea why the ITBS and other nationally recognized, standardized tests (ones without so many looming questions with regard to validity) have been dropped by public schools in favor of the AIMS.

Private schools in the area still use the other standardized tests as a measure of acheivement. :Shrug: Of course, I say this with the understanding that no test is perfect.


ETA: Here is a link with the math test. Check out the 4th grade test, particularly items 17 & 18. Now, maybe I'm a nit-picker, but 17 struck me as being particularly odd. Mainly, because there is a pattern formed in the table with the boy giving treats 2 or 3 on alternating days. If the pattern continues, which the table suggests, the boy wouldn't have treats to give the dog on Sunday. Instead, the study guide tells you that you're to assume the boy drops the pattern, gives three two days and is left with one on Sunday. While it is true that this *could* happen it isn't really predicted by the table provided.

http://www.ade.state.az.us/standards/AIMS/AIMSSTGuides/

In other words, remembering this is just one example, I don't think the test is measuring what they think it is measuring--if these tests are representative of the final test.

It's one thing to slap a test together, it's another thing to make sure you're not testing children on how well they can take tests and/or adapt to the caprices of the test's creator.

I doubt my son will fail. On the practice tests he's gotten 90+ percent correct. The point is, though, I know where he's at in math, etc. I know he very nearly maxes out the tests at 100% all the time and I've also had him tested on other standardized tests with scores in the 98th percentile and upwards. I want this silly AIMS test to reflect this same information I know to be true.

Also, I have very real worries about the way this test might impact kids who are on the borderline. What if a poorly constructed test item (or three or four) is the difference between feelings of success and failure? What if this unfairly impacts teachers who really are doing a good job despite the crappy material?

The other answers are not possible for #17, though. It's a bit of a trick question, but if the 'correct' answer is possible and the others aren't, that's just critical thinking :) Actually, I think that's pretty cool to slip in at that age. They are well used to the pattern part by then.

Cranky
03-02-2010, 12:22 PM
I'm mostly horrified by standardized testing. As a kid, it was boring, but easy (I easily scored in the 99th percentile on everything but math, and that score was still above average, even though I *suck* at math). These days? I don't know. Sometimes, I'm flat out annoyed at how much time seems to be wasted on review -- during the damned school year!

*puts on grouchy old lady hat* Back in MY day, review happened at the beginning of the school year, in about a couple of weeks time, to actually, you know, refresh your memory so you could be good to go moving forward. Bah!

I'll spend parts of each day this summer working with my kids on academics. They need the structure to their days (and so do I, gawd help me), and it keeps them sharp for when school begins again in the fall. At least then I don't feel as frustrated that they're spending two months out of the school year (Jan-Feb) reviewing things they already know. My kindergartner will be exempted from district wide testing due to his disability, so he won't be subject to this silliness, thank heavens. He'll keep moving forward, and he'll be spending some time at the kitchen table working on his stuff this summer, too. (I should clarify that even though he *is* learning academics, it's only been the past two or three months that he's been able to do beginning level kindergarten work -- he starting to read sight words, YAY! But he's still very far behind the other kids in his grade, which is why he's exempt, not simply because he has a disability. Felt the need to make that clear)

Sorry to get ranty all over your thread. Basically, I feel ya. :D

kaitie
03-02-2010, 01:02 PM
I did my master's in educational psychology, and trust me one of the first things we learned was that No Child Left Behind was basically creating an entire generation of kids who don't know a damn thing. There is so much emphasis put on teaching for the test, teachers are no longer allowed much freedom, and memorization of key facts over actual learning and critical thinking and problem solving skills has become common.

If I can afford it, I'm going to do private school for my kids. Even if I can't, I'd still send them to school, though, just because I think the social aspects are important. I definitely know how frustrating it is to be in a class where you're way beyond the other kids, though.

Do they have any gifted programs in your area? I was tossed into one in elementary school and I'm super glad I was. We were working three or four grade levels ahead in a lot of subjects.

Kaitie...who came from Texas where they solved problems like poor test scores by lowering the standards required to pass. :rolleyes:

Mela
03-02-2010, 06:38 PM
They don't cover much in the way of history or geography. Of course, this isn't a huge shock. It's an American public school after all (even if it is technically a public charter). As far as most schools here go (and we did try private at one point--I found them to be lacking in ways similar to their public cousins) it seems like history and geography consist of learning the names of the states and some facts about history from roughly the 18th century to present. Then, shortly after elementary ends, right as high school begins, everyone decides to let the kids in on the big secret--that the world is older than the 18th century and the rest of the world actually exists.

They still do this? When I was in school history of the world ended with World War II. Nothing came after. It wasn't until I was in college (1978) that we were taught anything about McCarthyism, Eisenhower, Korea, Kennedy, Civil Rights, etc.

Of course I was in further shock later on in college (I quite 2-year college in 1980) when my American Studies professor, who'd obviously been teaching from the same notes he'd used 20 years before, talked about the South as though it was still a backwater (this was in 1998), forgetting all about, say, Alabama's contributions to modern aerospace, etc.

At least your children's teachers are good sports about it but the state DOE should hide in absolute shame.

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 06:53 PM
The other answers are not possible for #17, though. It's a bit of a trick question, but if the 'correct' answer is possible and the others aren't, that's just critical thinking :) Actually, I think that's pretty cool to slip in at that age. They are well used to the pattern part by then.

I don't think it is cool at all to put a trick question on a standardized test. The best answer choice is the correct answer, but it's still a screwy way of testing.

If the test authors like riddles and brain teasers, they're in the wrong line of work.

ETA: I misspoke, the answer is correct, because it is possible but still does not follow the pattern/is oddly constructed.

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 07:07 PM
They still do this? When I was in school history of the world ended with World War II. Nothing came after. It wasn't until I was in college (1978) that we were taught anything about McCarthyism, Eisenhower, Korea, Kennedy, Civil Rights, etc.

Of course I was in further shock later on in college (I quite 2-year college in 1980) when my American Studies professor, who'd obviously been teaching from the same notes he'd used 20 years before, talked about the South as though it was still a backwater (this was in 1998), forgetting all about, say, Alabama's contributions to modern aerospace, etc.

At least your children's teachers are good sports about it but the state DOE should hide in absolute shame.

From what I can tell, in reading the state standards, etc, the rest of the world falls under the heading of "social studies". History, what little there is, is reserved for studying America and all things American--with a few biographies thrown in here and there of famous non-American people and/or a couple of "cultural" days where the fact of other countries existing in the world is given a perfunctory nod.

The Civil Rights movement, of course, gets a bit of play these days during Black History Month and/or around the time of MLK day. Again, a perfunctory nod and a wistful sigh that "gee, wasn't slavery bad".

ad_lucem
03-02-2010, 07:15 PM
I did my master's in educational psychology, and trust me one of the first things we learned was that No Child Left Behind was basically creating an entire generation of kids who don't know a damn thing. There is so much emphasis put on teaching for the test, teachers are no longer allowed much freedom, and memorization of key facts over actual learning and critical thinking and problem solving skills has become common.

If I can afford it, I'm going to do private school for my kids. Even if I can't, I'd still send them to school, though, just because I think the social aspects are important. I definitely know how frustrating it is to be in a class where you're way beyond the other kids, though.

Do they have any gifted programs in your area? I was tossed into one in elementary school and I'm super glad I was. We were working three or four grade levels ahead in a lot of subjects.

Kaitie...who came from Texas where they solved problems like poor test scores by lowering the standards required to pass. :rolleyes:

In our area, the public schools are particularly horrible. That's why we're at the public charter. We plan on moving soon, though. The areas closer to my husband's place of business have (in theory) better schools and programs.

I did, briefly, try private school for my oldest. I have mixed feelings about private. There are pros and cons. The biggest "pro" is the freedom from some of the general nuttiness of the state. Still, in the end, we couldn't justify the high price tag just to trade out which kind of nut we liked best. The difference between private, public, and charter seems to me like the difference between peanuts, cashews, and almonds. It's a matter of taste ;)