We must focus on children, not just tests

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When the temperatures begin to rise and the mosquitoes make their first appearance, summer is nearly here.

But summer will not arrive until another rite of spring passage occurs.

Before hundreds of area school children can cast off their backpacks, some serious work remains to be done in the area’s classrooms.

Statewide testing begins this week in our community. And with the arrival of the test week comes some fear and loathing on the part of at least some parents, teachers and administrators — not to mention some of the test takers.

Generations of youth have participated in some form of academic achievement test. Such standardized tests provide a benchmark against which educators could compare groups of students.

But in 2001 with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, standardized testing wasn’t just a measuring stick; it became the Bible of education.

The intentions were good: providing accountability for all students.

The unintended consequence however is that the test seems to become more important than making sure all students are truly educated to the maximum of their abilities.

Critics suggest we’re educating students on how to take the test and not how to actually learn and study practical skills.

For all the accountability standards in place, ultimately, it still comes down to the importance of having a team of people focused on helping each child succeed.

The teachers and administrators are key players on that team, but the head coach and quarterback role must be filled by parents.