To the editor of THE EAGLE:
At Egremont School in Pittsfield, longer ago than I want to remember, our fourth- grade team administered the very first "season" of the standardized test known as MCAS. As I recall, the test was 80 pages long and included short composition, long composition, English language arts, math, science and social studies. It was to be administered daily over a two-week period.
With much angst and trepidation it was given to our then 9-year-old students. There was much fear, anxiety and worry, enough to go around for some time, on the part of both student and teacher! The only thing that kept them coming back each day besides the fact that they had to, was a carton of pre-test orange juice (bribe) and the promise of a really fun class activity in the afternoon (another bribe)! We made good on both promises every day! Over the years the test remains -- however, it has now been broken down, giving the various subjects to various grade levels. No one grade gets the privilege of taking it all at once anymore.
Before I retired in 2005, from January on, we prepped for test-taking. No time to teach new stuff or God forbid, waste time on a spontaneous learning activity that might include those "dirty words" fun and creativity! I can see why parents are now becoming part of the opt-out movement. (See Education article in Monday’s Eagle). It’s taken many years to get to this point but parents have had enough already!
It’s time to stop this narrow-minded evaluation of what a student is all about! So many children have musical, artistic, and other talents that go unrecognized. There is more to a human being than the results of a standardized test!
Back once more to that first year of testing. When it was all over and done, the four of us on our team looked at each other and said out loud, "child abuse!" Because it was.