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Not everyone earns a trophy

Monday, April 22, 2013 - Updated: 3:50 PM

Change is hard. Learning can be hard. Changing learning, well, it's a bear.

This partly explains the growing hysteria over a new battery of standardized tests being given to grades 3-8 which started last week in New York schools.

The state has developed new tests designed to align with a new set of academic standards known as the Common Core.

In this, if you can believe it, New York is actually ahead of much of the rest of the nation. But at least one state, Kentucky, has already taken the plunge and the results were not exactly encouraging.

It turns out that the Common Core is demanding. That's a good thing, you would think.

But it also turns out that school districts, teachers and students are behind the curve of where our society wants them to be. Lesson plans and educational materials aligned with the Common Core are not yet fully in place.

Across the state, there have been rumblings of a revolt against the tests.

New York State United Teachers, which represents teachers in union locals across the state, mounted a $250,000 advertising campaign against the tests and organized petitions and letter writing opposition.

Some school boards and parents have angrily denounced the tests and some parents have said they won't allow their children to take them. If enough parents forbid their children to take the tests, individual districts could be penalized.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Associated Press, "Teachers are scared. They know these new tests are different. They're scared for their kids and they're scared for themselves."

Goodness gracious.

Debate over what our schools teach and how it is taught is a good thing. It's also entirely reasonable to question how we measure success. All of these questions are central to the matter of education.

That said, the overwrought fear and resulting resistance to the current battery of tests is ill-conceived and counterproductive, sending the wrong message to students, on whose behalf the drive for higher performance and accountability is undertaken.

The tests are hard. So what?

Put another way, when did we become so afraid of our children taking a test and all of us learning, perhaps, that maybe they don't know as much as they should?

(Like that's a surprise at this point.)

This, kids, is the stuff you need to know to be successful in tomorrow's world. If you don't know it yet, you need to learn it.

As it turns out, not everyone is automatically a winner in today's world.

And, yes, it stinks that adults still haven't gotten their stuff together after more than a decade.

But it really is past time to move on this.

-- The Kingston Daily Freeman

     

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