Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A testing time for the kids

Both kids have MCAS this week. What's that, I hear all you people from outside of Massachusetts ask....MCAS stands for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, although Robert tells me that in school the kids call it the Massachusetts Child Abuse System!!!

MCAS is standardized testing performed in various grades starting at grade 3, by all public (i.e. non private) schools in MA. The subjects covered include Math and ELA (English Language Arts). The results are published yearly in the form of a league table, and are used by many as an indication of how good the schools within a town are. This is hugely important, because the better a towns results are, the more families want to move to that town, which has an upward effect on house prices.

The reason I don't like MCAS testing is that it really benefits the town and the school more than it does the child. The school syllabus reflects what needs to be taught in order to pass MCAS, rather than what needs to be taught to give the kids a well-rounded education. As an example, for the past few weeks leading up to this, the kids have done nothing but practice how to respond to example MCAS questions. I think they are too young for this - the time for exams comes later when they are teenagers.

Robert is not happy about the testing, although he usually does really well. This is the first year that Emma has done it and she is not phased at all, in fact she is really excited about it. Is it because she is supremely confident in her abilities? No....its because she has been told that the kids will be allowed to chew gum during the test because it can help them to concentrate. She always looks on the bright side, does Emma.....

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