Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cut testing or learning?

Tough economic times may be undeniable but how we manage our money and prioritize our budgets should very much be up for discussion.

Ask any teacher if class size matters and they'll tell you it makes a huge difference. Ask a parent how they feel about their child's class of 31, and you'll get an earful. Ask the kids, and they'll tell you how much it matters too.

In my 10 years experience teaching mddle school (grades 6-8), I've noticed that a class size of 20-25 is an acceptable number. Every student added over and above 25 feels like three more each, and a class with 30 or more reduces teachers to lecturers and drill sergeants; teaching looks less like teaching and more like management.

And yet, tough economic times seems to be justification for larger class sizes. In the US, Arne Duncan goes so far as to bribe teachers to take on more students:

Duncan also said that states should think selectively about increasing class sizes. The father of two grade-school-age children said he’d rather his kids be in a bigger class with a better teacher than a smaller class with a lousy one. He suggested teachers could get paid extra for getting a bigger class.

It's plain to see that increasing class sizes is being considered by policy makers as a way of saving money, and yet I wonder how the multi-billion dollar standardized testing industry will fair under tighter budgets?

If we really care about kids, tougher economic times would see high stakes testing suffer more than the children in the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. I agree Joe with your premise that eliminating the standardized testing would do much less harm than eliminating the teachers.

    The problem with this argument is that schools spend about 80% of their salary on budget, so if you reduce it by 5 or 10%, you get huge savings overall. While the standardized testing industry is big money, even eliminating all together wouldn't stop class sizes from rising in many school districts.

    Obviously there would be lots of other benefits from eliminating the testing, and the economic argument isn't a bad angle, it would save a lot of money, just not on the same scale as what would be saved by cutting teachers.


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