Monday, July 4, 2011

New Testing for Pre-K

     As if it hasn't gotten silly enough, Education Week (July 9) posts that a good portion of Race To the Top funds for education will be spent on early childhood education -- hey, that part is good -- but, very importantly, pre-K testing. Now just how will they test pre-K? Pre-K students are usually placed in such classrooms because they do not seem ready for the academic life.
     To test a teacher's success with such children, we will test these kids on a child's ability to work independently at her desk. To not punch Mickey. To not cry when Mom leaves every day, to share toys, to find his own bookbag, to focus on the lesson at hand. These children are exposed to the alphabet letters and counting and math concepts and days of the week, but none of these concepts are expected to be mastered -- that's the domain of the kindergarten classroom -- and beyond.
    Sometimes this testing frenzy gets a bit, well, frenzied. It appears that this pre-K testing is one of the ways. There is a whole world of skills children learn in school that cannot be tested. Can't we see the difference?