Tag Archives: College and Career Ready

Is there an alternative to testing?

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We’ve beat this to death I think, not the question necessarily but testing itself.  We’ve flattened it, blamed it, stretched it, bolstered it and torn it down.  What we’ve not done is eliminated it.  First of all, why do we have state mandated end of course testing?  The only logical conclusion is — we do not have teachers we can trust. Otherwise why the redundancy?  Why test students on subjects the teachers obviously tested them on already?  What’s the point?  I am probably stating the obvious but the difference is, I’m laying it all out here — the wounds of the system; we do not trust teachers.

iuTesting is very expensive, state wide standardized testing.  Let’s eliminate the standardized testing in K-12.  There’s already a good national testing for admission to college in the ACT/SAT system, paid for by the students.  The only other system of testing that could be administered statewide, is a graduation required senior final exam.  That would eliminate the sciuhool “x”is easier than school “y” so let’s move our kids there mentality.
This is after all, about money.  I don’t care how much the school/principal/teacher says they love the school/students they would not be there if it were not for money.  So with that as the basis, how much would a school system save if it did not have to test so often?  The state pays for the testing but the reality is, they pay for testing out of money that could go to schools if schools/principals/teachers were trusted.  So if on an average testing day, a state pays half a million to test all the states students in a particular grade on a particular subject, what could individual school districts be able to do with the money instead?  School infrastructure?  Teacher raises?

So how would a school insure students received satisfactory instruction?  Teacher testing.  Test for retention, test for promotion, and hire only qualified teachers for open positions not family and friends as is a common practice in rural schools. Testing to hire, retention, and promotion is used in many professional occupations from the USAF to lawyers. Trust the school districts.  Empower them by giving them funds that otherwise would have been spent on the numerous tests.  The saving in teachable hours not spent on testing preparation, testing days, and testing recovery alone is worth it.

“College and Career Ready”

I’m really struggling with this phrase College and Career Ready used so frequently and easily throughtout the state of Tennessee especially in light of the attack on “career” type CTE classes — many of these classes being eliminated/reduced across the state. Some view and define the phrase as a charge to make sure that students are ready first for college and then after college ready for their career. Other educators (and here’s where I fit in!) see the phrase with two distinct charges; the preparation of students to be College Ready and preparing students to be Career Ready
College preparation is both the function of using CCSS to help students gain and understand subject knowledge in preparation for college level work, but also the task of understanding the “how” college functions. The fact that most classes do not meet everyday, that one class may be on the other side of the campus, what a “lab” class is, dorm room living, and the list goes on. How well do we prepare our students for college? How much do they understand about the process, the link between a future career and the degree required for that career? Using the Counseling and Postsecondary School Culture barometer from NYC schools, it is very interesting to see how infrequently we as professional educators “counsel” our own students in college expectations. The belief is that this counseling must be done somewhere along the line, someone other than me is responsible, the guidance office must take care of all of that. However, as this pulse of the school sampling often reveals, is that no-one is guiding our students on their future path when it is everyone’s responsibility not just the guidance office.
Career preparation on the other hand is two-fold: Those on the college path must understand the requirements for their chosen future career and those who elect to go into the existing workforce need to understand the how-to of interviews, professional dress, and resumes to mention a few skills. Realistically step back and look at the graduating class and estimate how many will go to and complete college, and how many will either drop out, enter the work-force directly, work and go to a tech school, enter the military, and then ask yourself how are we preparing the students for this “career” path? Are our students really “Career Ready?”
I’m worried about Tennessee. I’m concerned that we are focusing too much light on the college path that we are neglecting the path that many of our students will take. In so doing we are slowly eliminating those “career enhancing” classes like cosmetology, carpentry, plumbing, auto work, electronics, that we are pulling the “career” rug out from underneath a large population of students and forcing them into college level classes where they will not be successful.
If anything we need as much focus if not more on the Career Ready part of the phrase than ever before. We need technical school information, we need hands on CTE classes to teach the reality of math and business classes to demonstrate the requirement to be able to read and understand non-fiction because life is non-fiction. These needs are required life skills, not optional and “Career Ready” classes need as much focus as “College Ready” classes. Come-on Tennessee, let’s take back the lead in school-to-work education.