Sunday, April 29, 2007

Standardized Test Scores, and Paying Students For Good Grades

"Do these tests matter?"

"Do these scores go on my transcript?"

"I don't care about these. I have to study for my AP tests."

How weary I grow of such self-centered whining.

My usual response to the "does this matter, why do we have to take these" cries is to give a few facts and then to say, "You still may not think these are important, but I do. If you trust me and respect what I say, then do your best on these because I think it's important."

Perhaps now I have an even better response, although the response still, in my mind, reinforces narcissism. Here's the closing:

If intrinsic motivation matters in career success--and I think it clearly does--then what is the impact of not-so-subtly teaching kids that they need not do anything for which they are not explicitly rewarded?

You might say that that closing isn't earth-shattering, but it takes on much more importance after you've read the whole thing. It isn't long, and it's very worth your while.


skh.pcola said...

Why would "...the real students [...] need the sports"? "Real students" would be studying, not running around a football field.

allenm said...

Talk about mixed messages!

Attendance is mandatory - and what's that imply? - yet in the school education is subordinated to scheduling considerations, personnel issues, political fads and prehistoric traditions.

There are decent-to-good teachers randomly interspersed with teachers whose response to a kid dropping dead in their classroom would be concern that nobody trip over the corpse. That the teacher can be held responsible for.

Cultivating a life-long love of learning's going an up-hill battle if the implied lessons are so clearly arrayed against education.

Darren said...

skh.pcola: did you mean to direct your comment to this particular post?

Law and Order Teacher said...

I'm with you. The hardest thing to get the students to see is the necessity to take this testing seriously. Regardless of whether you agree with the system or not, it is the system. I tell my students to fight the system from within. Get your education and get power. Then you can change the system. Temper tantrums don't work. Pay them to pass a test? That's crazy. That's a bad lesson to learn. Don't do anything unless there's money in it for you. How about doing something because it's the right thing to do?

Anonymous said...

I would try on the STAR tests, but they schedule it at the worst possible time. AP Tests are more important for the students.

Onyx said...

I tell them that it always counts. And it does whether or not I choose to take a grade, it is something they need to learn. And as for the busy work they get to do with a sub, I try every hard to pick something interesting. Strangely it works. It's like lesson plans, I'd rather not write them but they are required. In life everything counts one way or another.

Don't fall over but my biggest whiner who complained about all the vocabulary he had to define and learn, thanked me! Strangely the vocoab from our novel study of the Little Prince showed up on his state exam! I almost fell over when the kid thanked me.

It all counts one way or another

Darren said...

Anonymous, obviously you didn't read the linked post, or you'd know that this type of testing counts more than you can imagine.

Anonymous said...

I recently had the opportunity to go back and speak to several sessions of 9-11th graders on my high school's carreer day. The focus of my topic was the importance of one's background in English when entering the business world (a snore-fest, I know).

I tried to emphasis that the seemingly silly drudgery they're working on right now is in fact important practice for the "real world" and will end up making them lots of money if they learn to do it right. Besides, learning reading comprehension and composition with Romeo and Juliet is much more interesting than learning it with California Finance Lender Law Statuates. However, I make the big bucks and drive the nice car because I can dig through the not-so-personally-fulfilling statuates in an effective manner.

I agree with the jist of the article completely though, we really need to pull away quickly from the emphasis on instant gratification in all things. I have more cohorts simply crippled by the fact that they will not and practically can not do things that are not immediately rewarding.

Anonymous said...

School is broken beyond repair - that's why I don't try.

Anonymous said...

Jetgirl, you make some good points, but they would be stronger if you hadn't misspelled four words in your post and made two punctuation errors. Perhaps you could toss in a few words about the importance of attention to detail at your next talk. :)

Law and Order Teacher said...

Dear Anon,
I suspect you are the kid in the class that asks the question about doing something and then undoing it when you cross the International Dateline. If you are in fact a teacher, maybe you should give up teaching. Or do you love your summers off. If you have given up you owe it to your students to hit the road. Maybe you can get a real job. I tell my students that without their education they might be able to pick up dog poop in the park (It really is a job.) Maybe you should invest in a good shovel.

Anonymous said...

Come on... banning T-Shirts with snowmen?

Anonymous said...

Thank you anon, however it is with a slightly more casual hand that I post on comment sections and online forums.

Given that I'm trying to do it in a five minute coffee break and still be reasonably coherent I'd appreciate your forgiveness of my primary focus being on content. In this case asking a coworker to proofread, as I do my business writing, would be unwise.

Unknown said...

"I suspect you are the kid in the class that asks the question about doing something and then undoing it when you cross the International Dateline."

I've had that student!

Law and Order Teacher said...

Right Wing Prof,
Doesn't that student most often turn out to be a sniveling attorney or a politician like Chuck Schumer? Oh, Chuck is a sniveling attorney.