When standardized school testing is such a big deal that an elementary school kid will suffer with a snakebite rather than disrupt the test schedule, thats an indication the stakes for so-called high-stakes tests have gotten out of hand.
Nine-year-old Sarah Bushee got bitten while on her way to Westmont Elementary last week, fortunately by a non-venomous snake. But the pressure for testing had her so worried that she didnt show the wound to her teacher until after finishing the Criterion Reference Competency Exam!
Sarahs case, of course, is an extreme one. Whats more likely to affect a schools test scores are facts discovered in a little statistical legwork by Wanda Golosky, principal of Euchee Creek Elementary.
Euchee Creek is one of three Columbia County schools labeled low-performing for two years straight. Along with Grovetown and North Harlem, Euchee Creeks test scores failed to improve enough to get the school out of the federally measured dungeon.
As a result, students at those schools could be allowed to move to better-performing schools in Columbia County.
But guess what? Theres one thing we can count on: When its time for those kids to move, it wont be the low-performing ones seeking greener pastures.
Thats because they arent showing up for school anyway.
We have a high correlation between high attendance and good grades, Golosky says. Of the 20 Euchee Creek pupils who failed to meet expectations on the fourth-grade CRCT last year, for example, those kids have missed more than 1,000 days of school since kindergarten, including one student who skipped 164 days. Those students have been late for school 428 times, with one student dragging in after the first bell 174 times.
While each school must examine its own programs when scores drop, parents must also be willing to take responsibility for the raw material the schools receive.
Whatever challenges there are in our public education system, they arent likely to get fixed as long as parents are apathetic and lazy. Parents must support the education of their children - especially by making sure their kids make it to school - every day, on time, for the full day.
One of those involved parents, Euchee Creek PTA President Lori Scherer, agrees. We have to address the truancy, the tardiness, and weve got to get those parents involved in their childrens education.
Only then will struggling schools succeed. Until that happens, the federal government needs to find a way to hold those sorry parents responsible just as strongly as it comes down on educators forced to babysit their ill-bred children.
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