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American Education Left Behind

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posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 02:23 AM
I live in the State of Texas. I graduated from a Texas school, as did my wife. We have 5 children that go to Texas schools. This thread is geared towards my frustration with the TAKS testing that is given in all Texas schools, as well as my frustration with the way that I feel the schools have let a great number of parents as well as students down.

First, a little background.

If you do not live in Texas, you may not know what TAKS is. TAKS is the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills standardized testing. It is used in Texas primary and secondary schools to assess students' attainment of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies skills required under Texas education standards. (1)

This testing was actually part of the No Child Left Behind Act, and began in 2003. Students are tested and scored according to a set structure. Now, this all sounds fine and good.....right up until you are actually having to participate in it. I am going to give you an example of my personal experience with one of my kids in the Texas educational system, and this will be the crux of the post.

I have attended the open houses that are given at the schools for the children to get acquainted with their teachers, where their classes are, etc. before school actually starts. Now, I have a teenager who really does not like school (go figure), and he has had some problems, but he has made it through so far.
Now, I went to speak with his Science teacher at one of these meetings, and we began to talk about the curriculum and what they would be doing throughout the year. When the teacher began to speak, I felt as if I were listening to a POW in a camp.....she had no enthusiasm, and all she could talk about was that the TAKS schedule was going to be very grueling for the kids. So, I began to ask some questions. She pointed out that the kids would only have a very short window of time to learn all the required material before the actual TAKS testing took place. I asked her, "so what if my son has some type of difficulty with any of these tasks or learning assignments?" She promptly informed me that if he was not able to grasp the material in the allotted time, that they would not be going back over the material and that he would more than likely have problems on the TAKS test. So I said, "It almost sounds like he will be left behind", to which she politely replied, "we don't like to call it that".

So, in the above example, my son would not be afforded the opportunity to get help from the teacher, but she did say that he could get some remedial help at a later date that had not been setup yet. Does anyone here see a problem with this? So, if my son could not get it, the burden of getting him to extra classes (after school we found out) would be left up to the parents. The teacher actually told me that she did not have time to sit with everyone that could not cut the mustard. Does that sound like being left behind to you?

Now, what really burns me up about this situation, is this. They were on my son for some of the most stupid crap all year long.....things like, tucking his shirt in, or they felt like he needed a haircut, etc. Stupid meaningless trivial bull, that is what they cared more about during the year than getting my son a better education. They did not have time to go back and teach him something if he did not grasp it, but man you just let him come to school with one hair out of place or his shirt untucked! I see it every year. If the teachers worried about my kids education as much as they worry about how he looks r what he wears, we would all be in better shape!

Now, here is what will really blow your mind. Individual school districts have the power to decide if students who do not pass the TAKS test will be allowed to graduate with their class. Even the students who do walk across the stage do not receive a diploma if they have not passed the TAKS test; they instead receive a certificate of completion (and most are not allowed to walk). Under current Texas educational law, students who have not passed all four exit-level sections of the test are unable to receive their diploma. So, despite having completed thirteen years of education and receiving the required credits, students who have yet to pass the TAKS test(s) are told they do not get to graduate. So essentially one test, (and even one question on one test) can keep a student from receiving his/her diploma. These students have passed ALL the classes, but still do not get to graduate with their fellow students because they could not pass the TAKS test.

How many of you, or how many people did you know when you went to school that knew the material, but were terrible at tests? Now, I ask you.....would that piss you off if it were your kid? Especially if you know that your child did the best that they could? I thought this would sum it up well enough...

If the skills on the test were basic skills, I might be okay with this law, but these tests are tough. The exit-level science test requires knowledge of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The math test requires knowledge of Algebra and Geometry. The English Language Arts test requires reading and writing skills along with the intense ability to focus (it is really long). The exit-level Social Studies test requires the ability to recall information learned from eighth grade through eleventh grade. I understand the need for today's youth to understand more than what I knew when I went through school, but I do not believe that this assembly line, cookie-cutter approach is the answer. Yes, I want our students to graduate knowing how to read and write, how to balance a check book, calculate a tip, understand how history affects current society, and understand basic science. I would also like our students to be able to think critically, question and think for themselves so they do not follow blindly, work effectively in collaborative groups, listen critically, articulate their thoughts well in front of an audience and be able to manage information and validate sources. The TAKS test ensures none of this.

Unfortunately so many educators feel such pressure to prepare students for the TAKS test (with good reason) that they fail to ever demonstrate the relevance of what they are teaching. They fail to teach the items within the curriculum that are useful outside of the walls of the school. So, we have students who graduate and can solve quadratic equations, classify living organisms and distinguish between a plant and an animal cell but don’t know how to budget money, complete a financial aid form, solve a real-world problem or think for themselves.

Something else that is disturbing is this:

- Depending on how well a school district does as a whole on the TAKS testing, is one of the deciding factors as to how much money that district will get from the state

- Also, in some district, the teachers bonus is based solely on the performance of their students during the TAKS testing

I am really not up to speed as to what is going on throughout the rest of the country, maybe my fellow ATSer's can fill me in.

In closing, I am just wondering what the rest of you think of the educational system in this country right now as a whole. I myself am not happy by what I am seeing in my area.

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 03:08 AM
Great thread S+F.

Knowledge is the key to power, and keeping the masses from having real knowledge neuters their ability to make any real change.

It would be interesting for me to review whats actually on these tests to see what the kids are actually being told they must learn these days in Texas. Regardless, it's all sort of irrelevant when you take a step back and look.

Because poor education is to be expected. As sad as it sounds. The government gets what it pays for when it comes to education. For the last century we've been the "wealthiest nation", but education has slipped past practically every western nation, as well as many eastern nations.

Once again, no coincidence. Trillions a year on military, and schools are falling apart. It's a situation of priorities, and the government perpetually makes it clear which is prioritized.

EDIT TO ADD: You should never let the outcome of the highschool education dictate the future of yourself or children. Highschool is not the be all and end all. School always bored me, but I always fit in, I was ghost through Grades 11 and 12, and my grades reflected that. Though I did go back and correct my highschool mistakes, as well as attend two years of post secondary business education - highschool in no way dictates my life.

Furthermore, the entire amount of education I learned from school, pales in comparison to the vast ocean of information I have acquired through reading, experience, and research of topics that actually matter to me.

If money is important to you, and you feel that it requires a vast amount of institutional education, you're sadly mistaken. I promise you that there exist no courses titled "How to make your first million" in any post secondary institution. It doesn't take away from what could be attained from post secondary education, but digging a massive debt hole with the hopes of possibly getting a job in your mastered field, is not the wisest decision especially at this time in history.

[edit on 21-8-2009 by king9072]

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 03:13 AM
reply to post by king9072

Thanks King, I appreciate that!

As far as some of the questions....ask and you shall receive

TAKS Questions Online

They only go up to 2006, I have not seen the new ones. I don't believe that they put them on the website for a couple of years.

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 03:26 AM
reply to post by king9072

Furthermore, the entire amount of education I learned from school, pales in comparison to the vast ocean of information I have acquired through reading, experience, and research of topics that actually matter to me.

I agree 100%

I never went to College, but I worked my way up through the ranks of life. Right now I make more doing what I do than probably at least 60%-70% of my graduating class that went on to get degrees. Most of them don't even work in their field of study. Excellent edit at the end there King.

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 03:59 AM
Here in Northern Europe, we enjoy a very high standard of education. That's all I have to say in its favor.

The reality of the matter is that along with that "high standard of (did I mention free?) education" is that we have people with Ph.D.s doing cleaning jobs. Employers demand that you have precisely the qualifications they're looking for. Any single aspect of your life, lifestyle or appearance out of place and you won't get in the door. The longer the door remains unopened to you, the worse chances you have of ever getting a job again because ... well, the thinking is that "He's not good enough for anyone else. He's not good enough for me either." It's sick. Sheep to the power of n.

You know what? I'm sick of gearing my life toward being standardized and certified. I'm a person, dammit, and I expect to be treated as such. I have a life, I have a family, I want to live for what makes me happy and my happiness will spill over to others. I do not want to live life on a rodent's exercise wheel. I want to smile with my heart. You can't do that while you're being taken up the backside.

Maybe we need to demand that school teach our kids to read, to write and to do basic math functions. The rest we can learn of our own volition. If our life leads us into academia, then great - we can head off to university. But why does a store attendant need a degree in retail? What about just a helpful, social personality and a cheerful disposition? Why do we should we feel ourselves better for institutionalized education?

If most kids went to school for just a few years and then started apprenticeships or the like, we'd all be better off. Why do we accept this system that crams us full - under duress - of useless info? That info will be superseded within a very short period of time but since we disliked/weren't interested in the subject matter or hated the teacher or had a crush on someone in the class that prevented us from hearing the first word the teacher said, it's unlikely that we'll ever know that said info is now outdated. And we won't care anyway.

Why should we not be allowed to learn naturally?

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 04:29 AM
These tests are ALL that matters. It is the same everywhere as far as I know.
I went to a Title I meeting at my daughter's school where I was told by 2014 all students are expected to move to the next grade level.

When I asked if this seemed unrealistic, I was looked at as if I had two heads.

The answer I got was a loud silence.

I thought maybe this might help you.

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 04:33 AM
reply to post by CosmicEgg

You know what? I'm sick of gearing my life toward being standardized and certified. I'm a person, dammit, and I expect to be treated as such. I have a life, I have a family, I want to live for what makes me happy and my happiness will spill over to others.

I could not have said it seems like we are all on life's sick trip right now. One of my daughters that is not even in high school yet comes home with math homework that I cannot even come close to helping her with it! LOL

Like I said in the post, I know that technology and the world have just taken off at a breakneck pace, but do our kids really need to know everything that they are being taught at school these days? It seems that life skills are no longer taught or worried about. Thanks for your reply, this gives us all a view as to what is going on elsewhere in the world.

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 04:40 AM
reply to post by suigeneris

Yes, I understand what you are saying. It seems the more questions that are asked at school, the more pushing that is done back at you.

The counselor called one day from my daughters school, they wanted to know why I did not sign the paper for her to take some advanced testing that Duke University offers for students. I told her because i could not see paying the $70 that they wanted just for her to sit for the test. i asked what it was going to do for her. Would colleges give her preferential treatment? Would she be more apt to get any better scholarships? You know what the counselor told me? She said that none of those things would happen, and that it was just a chance for her to mix with her peers, and to see where she really stands academically. I told the counselor that I know exactly where she is the top of her class, she is in the gifted and talented program at school in all her classes. Why would I just want to give the school or Duke University $70 so my daughter can mingle with kids she does not know, and they can tell me she is smart?

The smart thing was not to take the test in the first place and keep that money!

posted on Aug, 21 2009 @ 11:21 PM
Bump.....feel like this one is pretty important, would like to hear any other comments.

posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 12:06 AM
Have any of you non-Texans actually looked at the test? I found the "English" to be funny! Graded on kids showing proper cultural diversity? I am amazed what has happened since I was in high school!
Man I feel old!

posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 09:32 PM
reply to post by hangedman13

I feel ya! Man, I have been out of school for so long....dang.

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