May 27, 2005

School not fun.

WaPo discovers. Click on the link to read plenty of quotes from high school kids who didn't like that the teachers assigned so much reading, chose classics instead of the books they'd have picked for themselves, and pushed them to analyze sentences and understand metaphors instead of letting them enjoy their own meaning.

Why isn't the Post more critical of the students' cliché whines? And why is this news? Because nowadays we're blaming those standardized tests. They're ruining everything.

Or are they? Read this, from the New York Times:
Spurred by President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, educators across the nation are putting extraordinary effort into improving the achievement of minority students, who lag so sharply that by 12th grade, the average black or Hispanic student can read and do arithmetic only as well as the average eighth-grade white student.

Here in Boston, low-achieving students, most of them blacks and Hispanics, are seeing tutors during lunch hours for help with math. In a Sacramento junior high, low-achieving students are barred from orchestra and chorus to free up time for remedial English and math. And in Minnesota, where American Indian students, on average, score lower than whites on standardized tests, educators rearranged schedules so that Chippewa teenagers who once sewed beads onto native costumes during school now work on grammar and algebra.

"People all over the country are suddenly scrambling around trying to find ways to close this gap," said Ronald Ferguson, a Harvard professor who for more than a decade has been researching school practices that could help improve minority achievement. He said he recently has received many requests for advice. "Superintendents are calling and saying, 'Can you help us?' "


henny said...

Very interesting. Even the critics of NCLB should acknowledge that this is one of the few educational acts of recent years that specifically focus on improving the achievement of at-risk minority students. On the other hand, the ultra-liberal teacher unions and public seem content to let low standards coast while they fight for tenure and higher pay instead. And many problems with NCLB can be fixed on the state level, by fixing some of those crappy standardized tests and making better ones.

jeff said...

"analyze analyze sentences?"


"and pushed them to analyze analyze sentences and understand metaphors instead of letting them enjoy their own meaning."

C'mon - you did this on purpose, right?

vnjagvet said...

As a 65 year old that still remembers:

No more pencils
No more books
No more teachers' dirty looks

All I can say is

This is new, how?

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff, your faith in my infallibility is touching.

Kathleen B. said...

That WP article was kind of weird. It sort-of threw in that criticism of standardized tests, without any basis (no quotes or evidence). and didn't tie it to any of its other points.

It sounded more to me like the problem was the teaching framework. How can someone get through AP English without learning about metaphors and critical analysis of text?

And, the criticism about approved reading lists was just left hanging there too, wasn't it? There is a lot of wiggle room, I recognize, but it can't be a good policy that a teacher can just choose whatever book she wants, right? I mean there has to be some sort of oversight.

Anyway, that was a weird article.

jeff said...

Kathleen B. - it sounds from your comments that the WaPo article wasn't weird - it was perfectly normal for them. A hit-job without support.

Ann - it wasn't faith in your infallibility, it was the fact it was in a post on schoolwork and tests. It just smelled setup in a way. Like those tests where they try to sneak "the the" past you by having it on two separate lines - as analyze/analyze was on my screen.

lindsey said...

The girl who gives the whiny quotes about reading in high school is going to have a rude awakening when she gets to Cornell University. If I was on Admissions at Cornell, I can't help but think that maybe they shouldn't have admitted her. In short, what a moron. I can't believe they gave her the time of day.