School is difficult. School is challenging. Policies in school aren’t effective. So many critiques about school exist, and these critiques center around what can be done to make students perform better on tests, not how can we make students learn more effectively. Many avenues have been taken to find the perfect method for better testing performance. Extreme measures such as remediation courses, busing students to new schools, or hiring new teachers are all possibilities for schools that keep missing yearly adequate progress. Schools that manage to meet yearly adequate progress are able to have more freedom in how schools are ran, but the overarching threat of failure dependent solely on one cohort of students is an ever present fear in the minds of educators everywhere.
I find it perplexing that officials are willing to go to such extreme measures to show students testing ability. Are students not capable of showing progress through other means? Throughout my time in the Politics of Reading course, it seems that hope for the future of schooling has become more restricted and prohibitory of creative measures of progress. Groups such as the Opt-Out movement have made some headway against standardized testing, but what does it mean for the students whose parents are too afraid or complacent to speak out? What about the parents who find it easy to punish or reward a child based on their testing performance? The educational system has become restricted to a means of comparison between students that learn in vastly different ways. Not all students are able to learn and retain information in the same way, so why standardize a test and test students in exactly the same way? The best hope for students is good teachers. Teachers with enough experience to know what works for their students, and to design tests based on what and how they teach. Perhaps the real solution is to train teachers to teach in similar styles when it comes to material to be tested. This will give teachers the opportunity to adapt their teaching styles to a set of material standards and cut out highly manufactured and expensive testing materials. If a teacher is good enough at teaching and if the student has enough resources to study and truly learn, then the student will go above and beyond cohort expectations without the use of corporate testing materials.
Educational reform and the anti-testing movement all seem to be one big stream of complaints from students, parents, teachers, and members of the educational realm. There truly is no one-size-fits-all solution. In The Politics of Reading we have learned about No Child Left Behind, Scripted Curriculum, and even the recent adaptions of Common Core. Every single one of these programs have caused problems that are constantly needing to be addressed. When large amounts of time and money is spent catering to reforms of imperfect policies, what methods are being taken to most effectively teach the future generations?
Disparities within the schools population are ever increasing, problems with policies that have been implemented are forever changing, and little to no improvement is being made to help all children truly learn at the same rate as one another. Parents need support from the government for supplemental educational materials rather than high stakes testing materials. Educational experts need to create innovative learning mechanisms rather than selling their own brand of boxed education. Most of all, curriculum needs to be aligned so that the goals of each grade level remain similar, however teachers need the freedom to implement their own ability and teaching style that they worked 4+ years to develop. Policy should not be about restriction and reform, but about growth and development of the educational system as a whole, for a better future.