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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Measurement in pre-school? Measure this! Ten things to measure

 Testing in pre-school? I thought pre-school existed so kids could have fun in a safe place while their parents did something other than watch over them.  I guess I was wrong.

Last week I had a conversation with my 4 year old granddaughter in which she told me she knew the names of all the planets and proceeded to name most of them. I asked her what a planet was. She had no idea. I asked her older brother. He said they were like big rocks.

Does anyone ever wonder about all this? Must we continue ramming facts down kid’s throats so that the people who make tests can get rich?

Below is a piece from the Washington Post that appeared today:

The (D.C.) board set out to provide parents with a clearer picture of how charter schools compare with one another. It also wants to provide educators with a way to measure progress toward the goal of better preparing children for school, a goal that led city leaders to make a historic investment in universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

So we will test in preschool now? So more testing companies can get even richer. Last I looked there was $300 million being spent on simply grading tests in Florida alone.

And now preschool? Aren’t the testing companies rich enough? 

And what is all this preparation they talk about supposed to be for? If you listen carefully it is really about preparing kids for college. At 4?

When I talk about education one on one with a professional adult, I often start by saying: I don’t know where you went to college or graduate school or what you studied, but let me make a guess: none of what you do every day in your professional or personal life you learned in school. I have never heard anyone respond with anything stronger than “well maybe a little bit.”

Let’s be clear about what schools are for. Schools are not for education. We have deluded ourselves so greatly with this myth that we actually think we are measuring something about how well it is working.

You want something to measure? Measure what schools really do:

  1. Is my kid being kept safe so I can work (or play)?
  2. Is my kid learning to control his impulses and sit still for long periods of time?
  3. Is my my kid being fed lunch?
  4. Is my kid being properly indoctrinated to be a model citizen who can say why the US is a great country?
  5. Can my kid defend himself from the bullies?
  6. Does my kid have the right clothing so that other kids won’t make fun of him?
  7. Is my kid being taught enough meaningless stuff to memorize so that he doesn’t look foolish when asked who George Washington or Abraham Lincoln was?
  8. Are they making sure that my kid is really afraid to express an outlandish thought that no one he knows agrees with?
  9. Are they making sure that if there is something my kid really wants to do that it will be designated an "after school activity?"
  10. Are they making sure that my kid believes that only losers don’t go to college?

I suggest we start admitting that these are the real purposes of preschool or any school. Maybe we should start measuring schools on how well they do at teaching them.

1 comment:

C said...

I once watched a 4-y/o point to a skeleton and tell me about a femur and tibia - what he learned in preschool that week, of course.. Then he pointed to a map and showed the country where his best friend grew up. I thought, what? When I was 6, I remember looking at a National Geographic Atlas of the World, staring at "North America" and asking where China was in it. If I was too young at 6 to grasp how large the Earth is, why do we think teaching this at 4 will make any difference? What a waste of time.

So now you have preschool standards -- and did you see this? College exit exams?!

I'm sure your commentary on this would be fabulous.