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NCLB Outrages

Famous tales may best befit CSAP

Here is a great rebuttal of Standardisto rhetoric and practice.

by Miriam Marshall

Within a matter of a few days in February -CSAP crunch time at its worst - the Colorado Student Assessment Program has been likened to flight training and a hybrid vehicle. Whoa!

The first piece was written by the president of the Greeley-Evans District 6 school board (reference: Jan. 31 Tribune), the second by an evidently ambivalent parent who is waiting for something to happen "one of those days" (reference: Feb. 21 Tribune).

The analogy to learning to fly is more a flight of fancy than a parallel to the realities of CSAP. "Success in adulthood" is this analogy's initial flaw. No simulator or instructor who records a student's every move could or should quantify a student's success at any stage of her development. The proponents of CSAP are making feeble attempts to pass off a litany of edicts that they accepted from No Child Left Behind legislation. (As long as the tragic, horrible wars rage in the Middle East, "the decider" will never accept responsibility for another failure and will never propose major revisions.) Their lock-step adherence to CSAP's tyranny has belittled and disparaged the entire process of teaching and learning.

Opponents of CSAP are not denying that testing is part of the educational process. However, we will continue to enumerate the pitfalls of high-stakes standardized testing, (CSAP), a singular beast altogether in which important funding decisions are made based on the results of one very flawed test. [By virtue of CSAP's being high stakes, schools and ultimately students are penalized if their scores are not (arbitrarily) adequate, and punitive measures are profound.]

The "accountability" mantra has seduced legislators and school boards, which have in turn perpetuated the penalties of noncompliance to parents who choose to exempt their children from CSAP. Many parents have been brazenly intimidated with severe repercussions, isolation of their children on test days, accusations of betraying their children's schools. One principal recently deceived a parent by threatening that his child's name would be published in the Tribune as a "zero score." At my grandson's elementary school there is a "No Bullying" poster just outside the main office. Witness the hypocrisy.

Frankly, I would rather that CSAP be likened to something more traditional, something universally understandable and quickly called to mind by all, say, Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" replete with schoolmaster and masquerade by a headless horseman. There just might be something to this analogy.

Or, better yet, Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." Definitely. The school board/superintendent would be likened to the obsessive Captain Ahab. Moby Dick would be the opponents, the realists. Sad to say, Ahab gets tangled with his nemesis into eternity. Poor Moby Dick! Poor kids!

At this juncture of pre-CSAP administration frenzy, Hansel and Gretel might be just the ticket. After all, it is both age appropriate and scary. The story's moral is "Never leave home without your - perfectly legal - opt-out letter."

Miriam Marshall is a member of Coalition for Better Education, Inc., and grandparent of a Greeley-Evans School District 6 kindergartener. She resides in Greeley.

— Miriam Marshall
Greeley Tribune
2007-03-08


INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES


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