Minnesota, USA May 17, 2011- On Monday, Minnesota passed an education bill that would call for teachers to hold back third graders if they do not pass the standardized reading test at the third grade level -this is just one portion of the MCA. For years there were fears circulating on how the U.S. scores do not match up to other nations' data when it came to the abilities of the older students: middle schooled children and up. Minnesota law-makers believe the cycle starts early and choose third grade as the starting line of preventing future struggles for students. It seems that Minnesota would like to be the model for the rest of the U.S. in order to get back into competition with other countries.
Standardized testing is used throughout all levels of education in grade school; it is a means of gauging where each student is in comparison with other students and what each child needs to work towards doing. Back in my elementary years, we took several reading tests which most students used as a 'bragging tool'; I admit it, it was impressive when children could read at the ninth grade level and beyond at just the age of 10 years old. But now, children have more pressure when it comes to these tests. Unfortunately it is not anything to make students feel happy about their achievements, but rather to remind children that they must keep up or they will be held back for another year. On top of possibly hearing the great scores of other students, children may need to face the embarrassment of not advancing to the next grade with their peers.
The prospective of this becoming a law can be worrisome for the parents who have children that suffer from test anxiety; it is the situation that no matter how much information the parents and teachers know the particular students understand, these students just get so nervous during tests that everything goes blank in their minds. Fortunately for these students, there are other ways of advancing to the next grade if they are able to compile a portfolio that proves they have the skills at the required level. In addition, parents are also able to sign a waiver to send their children to the next level. However, this way seems to be walking in the opposite direction of where the state wants education to go. We would like to hope that parents would do what is best to help children learn, but sometimes parents do not want to acknowledge any delay in learning or other disability and insist on pushing these students to advance just as the other students are.
It is scary that children could endure this much pressure when every year the state cuts back on school funding. Even if they can pinpoint the children who need help, they may not even receive the help that they need; children cannot get the individual attention like they could back when I was in elementary school. It makes one wonder on how the state thinks these children will reach the level that they are expected to be.
In addition, I believe that teachers should already hold back the students who they feel need to spend more time on that grade's material; there is no need for a test to tell them this. It is alarming to think that some teachers are letting these students just slip by. As a state, we are putting too much pressure on children or on the other hand, we could be guilty of ignoring learning delays in children for too long. There has to be a better answer to this problem; it should come in additional funds to the school to be used on children who are falling behind in class. Let's spend more time educating rather than testing and stressing young children out.