Education professor: Schools are pressure cookers ready to explode

A Clayton State University education professor says the recipe has been in place for a while for CRCT cheating with the main ingredient being the pressure on schools to reach artificial and questionable goals.

Here is an opinion piece by Mari Ann Roberts, assistant professor in Clayton State University’s department of teacher education:

I like to cook so I’m going to share a recipe with you.
• Take one flawed underfunded federal education improvement act, like NCLB,
• add increasing pressure on individual schools to meet “Adequate Yearly Progress,”
• include some inane expectations that teachers can work miracles,
• sprinkle liberally with furlough days, suspended raises, and budget cuts dating back to 2003 that will total more than $2.8 billion through the fiscal year ending next June.

And what do you get? Whatever it is, it can’t be good.

There is no excuse for cheating. Let me be clear about that. Furthermore, there is no proof that the schools under question did actually falsify test results. Nevertheless, if the Georgia schools currently under question by the Professional Standards Commission felt like they had to do something to ease the inordinate amount of pressure placed on them to increase the outcomes of their CRCT test results in 2008, then, as comedian Chris Rock often says, “I understand.”

Individual schools, principals, teachers and students are placed under bone-crushing pressure to meet “adequate yearly progress” standards. This “progress” is expected to manifest despite the condition of schools, the morale of teachers, or the amount of funding each individual school receives. An educational philosopher, Nel Noddings states, “All children can learn.” Maybe – if they are not sick, suffering from a toothache, hungry, squinting to see the chalkboard, abused at home, breathing air contaminated with lead, worried about a parent in prison, or serving as a caretaker for younger children. Schools cannot, by themselves, provide equal opportunity. Neither can schools, by themselves, ensure “adequate yearly progress.”  Yet, schools, and those in them, are the only ones who suffer if they do not.

And how is this “adequate progress” measured? By testing, and re-testing our children, often to the exclusion of things we all remember enjoying in school like recess, art, and music. We must ask ourselves; what, after all, does a standardized test measure? Do we want our children to learn to be critical, conscious thinkers or rote memorization machines? Do we want them to recognize the value of knowledge or, instead, to believe that the purpose of learning is to regurgitate what’s been crammed in their heads for the CRCT or the Georgia High School Graduation Test? Does a random evaluation of memorized facts teach our students how to be active, thoughtful, and productive citizens? Does spitting out the date of the Civil War on cue help a child negotiate a contract, hold a conversation, keep a job, or determine right from wrong?

I believe not.

Our children are being cheated. Cheated out of the chance to love learning for the sake of learning, the joy of personal achievement, and the excitement of discovery. They are also being cheated out of the opportunity to think critically and problem solve. Our teachers are being cheated; cheated out of the opportunity to teach, not teach to a test, or teach about a test, but to educate our youth and teach them to think about things that matter. Principals are also being cheated. Instead of being out and about in the community communicating with parents, at a football game, or in the hallway greeting and supporting students, they are, instead, burrowed away in small “war rooms” with reams of test data taped to all four walls, trying to come up with ways to increase standardized test scores so they can find equitable ways to implement a law that is very underfunded. If their schools do not make AYP there is a great chance they may lose their jobs.

Teachers and principals are often vilified in the media and made scapegoats by politicians and pundits who do not want to commit to the costly measures of real, education reform. Those who do not want to pay the high cost of things that actually increase student achievement, like smaller class sizes, extracurricular activities, parental involvement programs, or teacher aides. Instead we give tests; then place the blame for poor school performance on principals, teachers, and students instead of looking at the actual culprit, which is, in part, the year-long test prep our students are receiving in lieu of an education.

And now, with the punitive “pay for performance” suggestion by Gov. Perdue, the amount of pay a teacher receives could be influenced by these same standardized test scores. This in itself could be cause for even more widespread cheating! The very thought is ludicrous. What if we insisted that doctors be paid based upon the relative health of their patients regardless of whether those same patients smoke, are overweight, or have a prior illness?

This recent testing scandal, whether valid or not, alerts us to the enormous pressure that schools are under thanks to NCLB. Hopefully, this questionable situation will serve as a wake-up call; give us an opportunity to re-evaluate what our children are learning and re-think how we evaluate teachers and schools. A great deal of pressure either creates a diamond or crushes the life out of something. If we care enough to put forth the effort, perhaps we can stop crushing the life out of education and relieve some of the stress in the pressure cooker currently known as school.

72 comments Add your comment

john konop

February 15th, 2010
2:44 pm

I challenge anyone to watch this video about the crazy Kathy Cox curriculum and than you will see why we have a cheating scandal!

Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth

Kennesaw Mom

February 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

On the one hand, I do think some children are burned out by testing and all these learning requirements at the state level. On the other, articles like these make me wonder if having kids spend more time in school focused on testing isn’t a bad thing…


February 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

Great comments from Dr. Roberts. This gets at the heart of the discourse, folks – what are teachers to do when they aren’t 1)provided with adequate resources, 2)not free to develop meaningful pedagogical approaches to teaching and are 3)forced to facilitate (not teach) a failed gauntlet of standardized tests?

As a college professor I can tell you that freshmen are walking into the college classroom ill-prepared for actual “work.” They are largely incapable of critical thought or innovation when posed with problems that deviate from the perscribed script. It is time for educators to regain intellectual ownership of the education system. Good ol’ boys like Perdue and his support staff are running this state’s education system further into the ground.

As educators, it is OUR responsibility to develop some real answers to these issues and take our plan to the legislature – by whatever means necessary. We must be heard. Let’s kick NCLB out of this state, develop new, progressive funding options and lead the way in education as opposed to following a increasingly harrowing path. Our children are worth it. Our state is worth it. Our careers are worth it.

pay attention folks

February 15th, 2010
3:04 pm

Well said.
Now the big question looms: What do we do about all of this? What do we do about testing mania, about an unproven math curriculum, about inaprropriate, one-size fits all graduation requirements that try to make all students college bound?
The legislature is in sessiion. We need to call, write and email our legislators and urge them to step into this mess created by NCLB and the GA DOE. All standardized testing, other than the bare bones minimum needed for federal fiunding should be halted immediately. Graduation requirements for the class of 2012 and beyond need to be revised in a bill similar to HB 215 proposed last year, or we WILL have a dropout crisis start to rear it’s ugly head in the next 12-24 months. Reform math needs to end with this current school year, and our students need to be provided with the proper math education that they deserve. This state is letting down a generation of children and it just plain stinks.


February 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

Kennesaw Mom, how is that even relevant. Furthermore, why should they be in school focused on testing? Why not have them in school focused on service learning, developing projects that allow them to use the skills they learn in school for practical applications? We need to start thinking about what “education” means. AND, why is it the school’s responsibility to “keep” students occupied. The parents need to start being parents. Children aren’t accessories. They are YOUR children. Why not take them to the museum after school? Why not do an activity at home to help illuminate their understanding on a particular subject? You need to be active in the life of your child and stop passing that buck to teachers and extracurricular activities.


February 15th, 2010
3:27 pm

Every time I read about this new Math curiculum my blood boils, my children are stuck in it right now and the schools keeps telling me; “we don’t know what will be in Math III or Math IV, because DOE has not finished the GPS on it”. Furthermore, it will not be until 2012 when GA DOE (Kathy Cox) will have it aligned with local colleges and GOD forbid what if a student did not go to a GA college. What are out of state colleges going to do with this new GA math?

Does anyone know if students can be dual enrolled at a Junior College or College to take their College Algebra classes to count for Math III and Math IV?

Kids will be reg. for next years classes and need to know soon.

sped teacher bibb

February 15th, 2010
3:29 pm

Right on Roberts- What you get are unlearned people.


February 15th, 2010
3:32 pm

How many hours or complete school days are consumed in actual test taking by students [per student]? Like how many actual hours minimum are set aside for the two standardized tests that kids take every year?

EX Evil Old English Teacher

February 15th, 2010
3:53 pm

Fantastic. Thank you so much, Dr. Roberts!


February 15th, 2010
3:56 pm

I agree with pretty much everything the article said. Get rid of NCLB, go back to breaking kids out by ability level! Everyone benefits that way. But, umm…it is LOSE not loose their jobs. She should know that. Ughh, that rubs me so wrong, like let me “axe” you something.

APS Employee

February 15th, 2010
4:08 pm

James, the CRCT lasts one week (five days) and takes up about 3 to 4 hours each day. The ITBS, I’m not sure, but it’s shorter. What’s really the mind blower is the days upon days upon days of pre-testing, post-testing, test analysis, test pep rallies (yes, time taken out of instructional days to “Pump Up” the kids for the test). And no, the kids don’t care. I think it’s something the principals are required to do?
The test is the only thing that gets any attention, in my experience. Kids are assigned “projects” that usually consist of articles printed out from Wikipedia and turned in with the cite references on them – And teachers can’t fail these kids.
I teach kids who literally cannot read. They should not be in my class. I have expressed conern, complained, talked to the parents, but to no avail. I have to give a C or higher to these kids. We are not allowed to give grades below a C. If I hadn’t been a teacher for so long I would not believe it. How does a kid who is not just not on grade level for reading but LITERALLY cannot read wind up in a low-level reading class and get C’s? How is that fair to those children?

Brian E. Payne

February 15th, 2010
4:12 pm

Mari Ann Roberts has said all that needs to be said! Here! Here!


February 15th, 2010
4:15 pm

DAVID POYTHRESS closing statement from last gubernatorial debate….hear his statement regarding teachers and education here:

In contrast, hear what Roy Barnes has to say about his education policy during that same debate here:

DeKalb Conservative

February 15th, 2010
4:24 pm

How long until the NCLB scapegoat cannot be used? Eventually you’ll have to admit some kids are either dumb, and/or lazy.


February 15th, 2010
4:24 pm

The idea behind all this testing was to prevent the schools from graduating kids who are functionally illiterate. Looks like all the testing hasn’t really solved that problem at all. Maybe save the money and ditch the tests.

Brian E. Payne

February 15th, 2010
4:26 pm

What happen to the art of liberal education and flexibility in the education system? What happen to molding well-rounded kids? This ed system is a way to robot-a-tize children. The average student knows nothing about the Harlem Renaissance. West Indian culture. Indian culture. Ask a random 12th grader about Gandhi. Ask them about all the famous black authors e.g. Chinua Achebe. But they can, maybe, complete an Algebra equation. How many us use higher mathematics day to day? Addition, Subtraction, Division, and Multiplication is all most need. But yet, geometry is on a pass/fail test. Asinine!

Limbaugh is Fat

February 15th, 2010
4:35 pm

Teachers at my school are congratulated when they spend a significant amount of their “teaching time” preparing students for standardized tests. In essence, they are not teaching students; they are giving them practice tests over and over. Is that an effective learning method?


February 15th, 2010
5:30 pm

The points presented by Dr. Roberts should be heeded by our leaders and politicians. The testing frenzy is getting worse and is destroying the real learning that should be taking place in our schools.

Since the politicians are so concerned about cheating, perhaps they should also examine their own ethical issues: unpaid taxes, accepting gifts from lobbyists (even if it is through the mile-wide loophole), and passing legislation that grants special, retroactive tax breaks for certain land purchases.


February 15th, 2010
5:55 pm

The ridiculous state of the educational system in Georgia is summarized well in this article. I hope everyone forwards this article to every Georgia legislator. Anyone with a rational thought process should realize that merit pay is flawed to its core. There are dozens more reasons not even mentioned in this article that indicates it is ineffective, unfair and holds teacher solely accountable for matters beyond their control. I urge everyone to write or call all the Georgia legislators today! Say No to merit pay!

Maureen Downey

February 15th, 2010
6:02 pm

Educator 2, Your comment is the ideal place to comply with a reader who asked me to please post this, I will do more on this issue, but wanted to post this for the reader who sent it:

Could you post a blog about the overwhelming and growing opposition to SB 386 Merit Pay? I have started a Facebook Group GEORGIANS AGAINST MERIT PAY and we now have over 600 members. The group was started Wednesday afternoon and has grown rapidly. Teachers are very upset!


February 15th, 2010
6:22 pm

Maureen….What I would like to see is a blog or Facebook page for people who see the idiocy in thinking all children, regardless of IQ or native language, can pass a test on grade level by 2014.

I will never know what the drafters of NCLB were thinking when they put forth the idea that kids with IQ’s in the 50’s could ever achieve at grade level.

Concerned Teacher

February 15th, 2010
6:23 pm

Amen! We educators are degreed and trained to teach students, not to jump hoops for special interest groups who have no idea about what goes on in a classroom nor what it takes to be a teacher. PAGE? GEA? NEA? Where are you now? We have enough theory and rhetoric; we need common sense action. Public schools are being undermined by vouchers and charter schools. We need reasonable help, not more unattainable demands.

Wounded Warrior

February 15th, 2010
6:34 pm

Two years ago, at my daughter’s elementary school (Henry co.), there was a contest to help out with attendance on the CRCT. The students had to be on time to school, take the CRCT test, have no behavior referrals, and their name was entered into a contest. The week following the CRCT one student’s name would be drawn for each grade level. My daughter won the 4th grade prize…all of the students were driven in a limo to Brewster’s ice cream and then back in the limo. This was a major waste of money, and also my daughter’s teacher disliked her. My younger daughter has this same nasty 4th grade teacher, and yes, the bias continues.


February 15th, 2010
7:45 pm

I have read every article in the AJC and on any blog I can find over the past few days on this subject. I have read every single comment posted on every single blog entry. This by far is the BEST written piece on the “how” and “why” we are in this crisis. The good Dr. doesn’t make excuses for the failures, but provides a phenomenal backdrop that shows how every single person is responsible for this madness at some level.

When this scandal either a.) boils over and ends with jobs being lost or charges being filed or b.) blows over with a moderate amount of impact on the reputation of Georgia’s schools, we will still be left with all of the questions above. What ARE we going to do moving forward? How WILL we ensure that our children and our neighbor’s children get a quality education without selling out their souls to testing? When WILL we realize that teaching to the whole child trumps teaching to bits and pieces of him or her?

This is a phenomenal moment for so many of us to ACT and make a difference. School reform just went from being a wish and a dream to a CHARGE with this scandal as our call to action. Enough excuses and enough complaints, let’s figure out how to actually give our kids the absolute best education possible…no excuses allowed.

Decatur Mom

February 15th, 2010
8:39 pm

This is all making my stomach churn. What a mess.

Question – how much of the problem has to do with money? Is there really not enough money or is the money not spent well?

We live in Decatur and own a rental property in Atlanta so we pay property taxes in both cities. Taxes in both cities are painfully high (though I feel we get much more from our Decatur taxes).

As a family, we are handicapped by the taxes we pay. And the schools just seem to get sooo much money. Do they really, legitimately need more or are they spending too much on administration, construction, etc.?

Maureen – Decatur publishes pie charts of how the revenue is spent among schools. Does APS do the same? Is there any analysis about how well money is being spent? Any way to compare to states who have “great school systems” (don’t know how to define that).

Please please don’t tell me we need to pay out more money to get an education system that works. If so, I give up.


February 15th, 2010
8:50 pm

And the saga in Georgia education continues… What’s next?

You get what you pay for

February 15th, 2010
9:13 pm

Decatur mom, as a homeowner, educator, and parent, I must say I understand your feelings. However, education is an ever increasing cost. As long as families continue to grow, the cost of living increases, and the cost of competing with other countries increases, then the cost of education will rise. Now, does this mean that school officials should have salaries of over $300,000? Of course not! It does mean however, that new and updated schools will need to be constructed. It also means that additional teachers may need to be hired…unless you want class sizes 30+ (which they currently are).

I agree

February 15th, 2010
9:17 pm

Overly involved mom, I agree with your comments. I too, have followed many of the blogs on this topic and this is by far the best. It captures a clear picture of our educational crisis.

Change our Focus

February 15th, 2010
9:20 pm

By the year 2012, the children who started kindergarten 1999 will graduate from high school. If testing laws remain unchanged, they will have taken at least 80 standardized tests during their schooling. Many will have have attended testing pep rallies, special tutoring sessions and 13 years of lessons aligned to tested material. Their elementary school teachers will have focused on the three R’s, many at the expense of social studies, science, art, music and physical education and daily recess.

The educational system in the US is clearly failing – failing the students, failing the teachers and failing to create people who can join the workforce or create their own companies. In most factors the US ranks well down the list in terms of educational achievement. Only greater demand and political pressure will encourage more experimentation and more innovation. At this point we need disruptive innovation – a complete rethinking of the pedagogy, curriculum, technology and intent of education, followed by a restructing of how education is offered and consumed. Standardized testing’s focus on rote memorization over critical thinking will make students good at regurgitating material, but lousy at applying their skills and knowledge in varied situations.

This could kill innovation. Company executives bred on bubble answers would stick closely to what they know and what’s been done, possibly latching on to a new idea here and there but rarely having their own. Medical research would stall; advances in technology would stumble. Poems and novels would languish undiscovered in the brains of our young people.
The average graduate under this system wouldn’t be able to lead the country, let alone intelligently analyze the issues for voting or writing their representatives. Graduates would be ready for low-ranking military service but unable to devise battle strategies. They wouldn’t have the communication skills needed to hammer out the compromises and treaties that prevent wars. They wouldn’t have the background in history and cultural studies needed to comprehend different points of view.

Many researchers have examined how testing affects student motivation. People are motivated by both intrinsic things — interest, curiosity, enjoyment — and extrinsic things — grades, test scores, the promise of a larger paycheck. Extrinsic motivation works in the short-term, but doesn’t encourage life-long learning. Good teachers encourage intrinsic motivation by connecting lessons to the things students care about and turning tangents into teachable moments. But pressure to cover everything that might be on the state tests cuts into time for this.

We, as a community, state and nation need to rethink the effects of high stakes testing.

FulCo teach

February 15th, 2010
9:37 pm

Maureen, Suggestion: Ask teachers in schools currently receiving GaDOE “assistance” as NI schools what they think about those who cheated to make AYP. The “interventions” in this program reflect the incompetence of many of the system-level administrators who don’t seem to understand teaching. These may include scripted lessons (i.e., teachers literally READ their lessons from a script, with no deviations or clarifications), recitation of the GPS addressed (NOT asking the students what they’re studying, but the teacher naming the standard), recommendations for multiple choice over essay tests, etc. These teachers didn’t cheat, and are being treated as IDIOTS, no matter their previous experiences (or successes) in the classroom, because they work in that NI school. THOSE students are definitely being cheated as teaching to the test overwhelmingly supersedes opportunities for a teacher to lead children to love learning and think critically.

FulCo teach

February 15th, 2010
9:42 pm

Change, et al… Maybe we should call for reinstatement of the REQUIREMENT that a nationally normed test be given at 3 grade levels and that CRCTs NOT be administered next year! Oh, and follow HB 1187 and eliminate GHSGTs as EOCTs have been implemented… Use the money you save there to avoid raising class sizes.

Decatur Mom

February 15th, 2010
9:42 pm

I understand that all things have a cost attached. But the environment of trusting our elected officials is over.

If they want/need more money from us they need to treat us like shareholders (which we are!) and present an analysis of how much they need, item by item, and why.

Let me help them anticipate our questions:
– What do they think they need per student to effectively educate? This means committing to that number and knowing there is no tolerance for excuses if they are granted their wish.
– How does this compare to private school tuitions per student? How does this compare to systems in other states that are successful?
– How much does it cost to run a classroom with no extra challenges? How much more needs to be spent to effectively deal with the extra challenges? That additional cost should be transparent and directed to those dealing with language barriers, abuse, neglect, etc.
– What are the benchmarks for success? What is the timeline for meeting the benchmarks?

This really is not unreasonable. These are what companies go through every time they present to their Boards. And, all this work makes them a better company. I’ve been there.

I’m just saying, I hope nobody thinks they can just come to us and say the problem is a lack of funding. I’m calling BS on that.

You want money, you spell out a brilliant plan on how it should be spent and EXACTLY what results we should expect, and when. And, if you are making $300K+, don’t you dare hire a consultant to do it for you.

FulCo teach

February 15th, 2010
9:47 pm

Contact your legislators! Ask your friends and neighbors to contact theirs!

Find your legislator:
House Education Committee
Senate Education and Youth Committee

MS Man

February 15th, 2010
9:58 pm

Check out this interesting perspective piece on merit pay. It really puts a different slant on what is important to teachers and why they do the work they do. Ties in nicely with the Dr. Roberts POV on schools and testing:

Happy Teacher

February 15th, 2010
10:16 pm

Interesting article MS Man, thanks for the link. I like that it focuses on improvements to the current system, which are undoubtedly out there, especially as far as recruiting more ualified applicants to the field.

I think that’s the exciting part that is being missed by too many people…that we have an opportunity to craft a system that will work for georgia. Instead, everyone just wants to assume that merit pay will equal passing more kids on the CRCT and so they just start shouting…

Again, thanks for the link.

Ole Guy

February 15th, 2010
10:54 pm

Focus, you bring out some very good points…well, in reality, you reiterate the things which cannot be hammered home fast enough. However, I feel that a little modification, to your views, may be warranted.

There is no denying that developing (not teaching, but developing) skills in critical thinking should be the primary focus of education. However, the mental discipline required in order to develop these skills can, in my humble non-educator view, only be attained by rote activities in the earlier years. Learning to regurgitate the multiplication tables with staccato accuracy, learning to recall, and to spit out facts, figures, and minutiae on command is the only way I know of to develop the mental “inter-twinnings” necessary to learn to formulate ideas and concepts later in life.

As it is now, it seems that grown adults want kids to think as adults, to jump right into “critical thinking” with no preparation. This is precisely like an unconditioned, untrained “usetabee” athlete jumping into a marathon run…pretty damn stupid, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Fed Up

February 15th, 2010
11:03 pm

MS Man: Great link!!

Ole Guy: You speak the truth!

FulCo teach

February 15th, 2010
11:12 pm

DecaturMom, Start with what your district earns vs what it pays for central office administration. You can find system allotment sheets at – basically for what positions the state pays the school system. (It’s also how teachers, counselors, asst principals, etc. are “earned” by a school and why increasing class size means you lose teachers.) Any positions above this are paid for with local property taxes, which can also be used to “buy” extra teachers (keep class sizes down) and support staff in schools, for curricular programs (e.g., music or foreign language in elementary schools). In Decatur City, you “earn” 1 superintendent and 2 asst superintendents, a secretary, an accountant, two special ed leaders, a social worker and a psychologist. Above that, all positions are fully funded by local funds (and NOT available to be used in local schools). Oh, and if you know the names of central office staff (or other faculty or administrators, you can find their 2009 salaries at Open Georgia

Public School Parent

February 16th, 2010
12:02 am

Dr. Roberts’ article is well written and correct on many levels. Except she does not offer a single solution. I am very disappointed that as a professor of education she did not set forth a solution.

I am a parent (very involved) but I am not a professional educator or an expert in educational policy. The need to assess student learning or progress is not going away just because we all complain about over reliance on standardized testing and how unfair it is to judge students, schools and teachers on these tests.

Maureen, would you please ask Dr. Roberts to please write part two?


February 16th, 2010
12:30 am

That’s because educators cannot solve this problem. It is really a social problem, and must be addressed outside the educational realm by the larger society. We cannot fix sickness, toothaches, hunger, squinting to see the chalkboard, abuse at home, breathing air contaminated with lead, worried about a parent in prison, or serving as a caretaker for younger children. That is above our pay grade. We’re like the little Dutch kid with our finger in the dyke.

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February 16th, 2010
7:42 am

MS Man, very thought-provoking link!

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Proctored the CRCT

February 16th, 2010
9:19 am

I do believe that the desire for funding has indeed created an atmosphere to cheat, but did the analysis of the CRCT assess how many or which classes had children begin bubbling answers on the wrong section of the answer sheet and were stopped, erased and started over? I have proctored many tests and it seems that in some classes- a few kids always start on the wrong section. In classes that are low functioning, verbal instructions, worded by the booklet, can frustrate some kids.. I have seen it happen too many times. Once you catch it, you help the kid erase, and get started with time remaining.

APS Proctor

February 16th, 2010
9:42 am

You are so right, Proctored. Despite careful instructions, it is not uncommon for this to happen. This could accout for a spike in erasures in a given class. When we see this happen, it has to be corrected and the child can then continue with the test.


February 16th, 2010
9:48 am

I still say a pay for performance program is a great idea as long as it applies to ALL professions. Politicians should be held to the same standards as teachers. Let’s see them try that for a while. Politicians always pick on teachers because by and large we’re sheep that just take it all the time. I’m just as guilty I’ll admit, but enough already with picking on us. Perdue may be a lame duck, but he’s trying to do as much damage as he possibly can to the teaching profession before he leaves. Wasn’t his mother or grandmother a teacher at one point? Shame on you Perdue, shame on you!

Just A Teacher

February 16th, 2010
9:59 am

This was an excellent piece written by a professor of education which seems to give it some creedence. It is ironic that public school teachers have been saying the same things for several years but to no avail. I guess it has simply taken this long for this failed system of standardized testing to reach higher education.

What employers want are intelligent people with the ability to reason and develop new ideas. Students should be taught to think independently and creatively in order to function in an increasingly complex global community. There is simply no place for that type of teaching in a system which rewards filling in the correct bubble on a standardized test. What happens when these young people step into the global market place and find that there is no correct bubble, or that some bubbles are better than others (but not perfect), or worse yet, that there is currently no correct bubble and they are charged with the task of developing it?

How many of us have faced a situation in our jobs when we simply didn’t know what to do? I would venture to say that everyone has at one time or another. Creative thinking allows to improvise during those difficult times, and the results sometimes become innovations which alter the methods used to accomplish the task at hand for the better. If students are not allowed to think critically and develop the creativity which is inherent in our species, they are doomed to repeat the same mistakes which have resulted in a failed banking system, corrupt government officials, and yes, an educational system teetering on collapse.

Standardized tests are nonsense, and it’s about time that people outside of the educational community realized it. If you want well rounded, creative, thoughtful people graduating from public high schools, let good teachers focus on what they do well: teach young minds to be curious and to love learning. Focus on what matters, developing intellectual curiosity, not memorizing some obscure data which will allow them to “think inside the bubble.”

Just A Teacher

February 16th, 2010
10:04 am

Maureen, please check the filter. This verbose teacher over did it again. :(

Happy Teacher

February 16th, 2010
10:10 am

Dbow- do we really want teachers to be held to a vote every 2, 4, or 6 years? That to me seems the ultimate pay-for-performance plan.

Happy Teacher

February 16th, 2010
10:45 am

JAT – Did I miss the part where Georgia schools were cranking out “well rounded, creative, thoughtful people graduating from public high schools” before standardized testing?

I value critical thinking skills as much as anyone, but the fact remains that students need a base of skills and common cultural knowledge before critical thinking skills can be successfully taught. And it seems to me that the CRCT just measures those basic things. If students can’t pass THAT test, critical thinking is still a ways away for them.