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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SOL Testing & My Kid (PYHO)

I've decided to do this as a POUR YOUR HEART OUT post, seeing as indeed, I'm writing in regards to something that I have kept bottled up inside since last Friday.

Now, the main rule with this hop/carnival/meme is the "golden rule" of life. If you can't say something nice (or constructive, even if you disagree), then refrain from saying anything at all. Why? Because this may be the ONLY time/place that we that participate in PYHO CAN say what we feel about something that is going on in our lives or are on our hearts/minds.

With that said, if you want to participate too, just click on the PYHO button below, grab the link-up and go for it.

Thanks to a friend over on Twitter, Tough Cookie Mommy, who also has a blog here on Blogger of the same title, I have today's post.

She is a teacher, and I am just a parent. But our kids, two states different are having major testing this week. I think her's have more state-based types of testing, due to the name of what it is.

But my two oldest who are in fourth and fifth grades respectively, as well as the third graders, are having SOL testing this week.

What IS an "SOL", you ask? It stands for Standards of Learning. It is a Federally-based/mandated test that the children take one time during the year (near the end of the school year).

Some (3rd and 5th) take all five subjects (math, reading, soc. studies, science and writing aptitude). The 4th graders take only two subjects (math and reading). Plus the kids take SOLs again in High School, also. And in Senior year, if you fail just ONE subject, they will NOT let you graduate High School with your class.

The higher the overall scores for SOLs that the kids bring in, combined, the more money that they get, as well as more close to complete Accreditation. And their intake of funds depends all on those Accreditation percentages.

Now, what's MY beef with this, you ask? Let's start off with the yearly phone call (message board-generated, mind you). It never fails. The weekend before testing week for SOLs and PALS (lower grades) testing, THE call comes in.

"Get a good night's sleep", "eat a good, filling breakfast", "tell them to do their best" and all the other crap.

Now, note that this is the ONLY time of year that this type of call comes out to us parents. And to me, that's pretty pathetic. Why? Because it *seems* that this is the ONLY time of the year that the school TRULY cares (somewhat) about how these kids do, education-wise. But (to ME) it's more about "raking in" the money. Remember, the better the overall percentage of Accreditation scores, and individual scoring (up to 600), the more money from the Government the school receives.

Last night, I asked Bryce if they had let him go to another teacher's room (the Title 1 class), where there would be basically no one but him and said teacher, as to take his portions of the test this week (he did the first of the two already). YEP! He did. And he will again today, as well.

Now, tell me why they would let my child go to another area (be it the classroom, library, office, or wherever) to take his tests for SOL, but they ignore his (and my) request to do this for him during the OTHER TIMES of the school year?

Funny. That has (all along) been one of the (very) few accommodation requests that BOTH (he as the student with special needs, and I as the parent) of us have asked a number of times for during the last few school years. In writing AND in person.

Right now, the school's finances and their reputation are on the line within the eyes of the Federal Government. But they need to WAKE UP and realize, too that their reps are ALWAYS on the line with the general public at large AND with the parents of the students that they serve.

While it's no longer surprising that this happens to Bryce EVERY single school year, it certainly does piss me off. Because it blatantly shows (in my eyes) that they care (obviously) more about the money than the children and THEIR potential and ability.


Angie said...

I *understand* why the schools make such a big deal over these testings since it affects how they rank but I agree with you - why is it only emphasized before state testing is done and not focused on yearly (esp. if you have asked to have Bryce given a more private atmosphere to take exams!) Ugh. Public schools - love to hate them.

Kathy said...

I would be so frustrated and angry myself if the only time my son got testing accomdations was on the federal testing (they call them ELA's here in NY) We have been so fourtnate that we have always had testing accomdations for our kids. You must just want to scream. I'm glad you can pour your heart out and please know that you and your son are in my thoughts.

Tara R. said...

Both of my kids are out of public school now, but these state tests (FCAT in FL) were always a peeve of mine too, especially the special needs accommodations. The pass/fail aspect of it was also a big frustration.

I've always thought the emphasis was on the funding and not the students. Which fails the kids and the schools. Education should not be held for ransom like this.

(dropping by from PYHO)

amygrew said...

That just sucks. My husband is a teacher at an inner-city school that may be taken over by the government for not meeting the testing requirements. Its pretty scary considering most of the students her teaches are from one or no parent homes, have a child, work to support the rest of their family and have many other things going on.

If there wasn't such a crazy stipulation on the tests maybe (not always) the teachers would be able to teach more effectively.

I am sorry that this is happening to your son. He deserves to get the best possible learning/testing experience that he can, whether the test is state mandated or not.

MommaK said...

Thank you, you put into words what I can't seem to. I get so outright angry with the state testing mandates that I could just scream sometimes. In our state it seems that our children are taught to take a test all year so that they will pass and the school's ranking is improved. I am not real sure what happened to real learning. I do not blame teachers as they are only allowed to do so much, I blame the upper management.
Though I must say the name of your testing is cracking me up.. Standard of Living (are they really testing on issues of life or something that will be completely irrelevant when they are grown with children?) Dropped by from PYHO

Renegades said...

When it came time for this testing here right before they started doing double math a day to get ready for it. In my opinion that isn't a true representation of where the students are at. Just where they got to in order to be ready to test.

Shell said...

Oh, the stress of those tests- ours are EOGs(end of grade) and when I was teaching, that was the bottom line. I hated it.

That's horrible that they only give your son those accomodations during these and not the rest of the year!

singedwingangel said...

They do the same thing here.. and 2 years they claimed they made the level they were supposed to and didn't. Because they failed it 2 years running they lost a lot of money and were losing students since they now had to allow them to go to another county that DID pass on this school systems dime.
So what good does it do if they won't even be honest that they are lacking?

Not a Perfect Mom said...

how freaking crazy is that? What is their response to you when you ask about the testing accomodations?
and I would think that the schools that score lower need more money to help out those kids...
but I must be crazy...

Mary said...

Insane. Makes me mad, but it's true. And I think the whole testing thing generated a lot of anxiety in my kids this week. Rather than "go-get-'em," they heard, "freak out...this test is really, really big." I try to treat it like just another day so they don't get so stressed. My daughter's leg hurt "really, really bad" all week right before school, and even once at school she pretended like she couldn't walk so she could come home. (She's 9, adopted only recently.)

Missy (& various in Transplant blog) said...

@MommaK, I apologize, but you misread the meaning of the acronym, SOL. You read it as Standards of Living. It's "Standards of *LEARNING*".

As for those that I "blame", it's not the school system for putting everyone (students and teachers alike) through moronious, rigorous, stress-filled crap and shove things down the throats of these kids, no matter if they are ready or not.

I blame the Federal Government. Mainly the heads of the Dept. of Education. It's because of THEM that myself and my kids, along with MILLIONS of others in our nation, must deal with the stress and fear of passing/failing over test results.

@Mary, well said! My thoughts to a T, my dear.

@Not a Perfect Mom, yep! I agree. I say that the more monies gained by the individual schools, the better prepared and abled to help the kids in NEED of extra help.

@singedwingangel, the schools that the two oldest are former students of had their first Principal removed from her position (should have been FIRED in my opinion, not placed in Admin. building) due to tweaking the scores to get full accreditation, whereas they did NOT pass for TWO school years in a row.

Missy said...

I hate this type of testing! We were always told in the district to teach tot eh test NOT to the curriculum. THAT bothers me that the one time a year we are told to do these things.

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