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Is the Obama Administration starting up the whole child tracking issue in schools again?

March 27, 2009
the case for standardized testing
Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Obama wants to track student achievement by tracking standardized testing scores.  Tracking has been used before, usually to place poor and minority children into specialized groups, and  children who start out at a disadvantage may show evidence of that in their standardized testing scores.  I have listed the article below, but it is a rather sick commentary on a method that has been used to marginalize children by a test score.  It’s a sick method that seems to have no one to watch over how this data is used.  And, it seems the equivalent of violating our children’s privacy in their schooling for the common good, or at the whim of lawmakers.

Obama administration looking to dump money into funding for student tracking.

The article states that data systems seem to be the answer to problems in education:

“Far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida that keep track of a student’s education from childhood through college. And far too few districts are emulating the example of Houston and Long Beach, and using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling,” Mr. Obama said in his speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Obama is behind the times on this, and there is even a report on this from Inside Higher Ed that supports the views that the standardized tests create a discrimination factor in applications to college:

A new research study — based on simulations using actual student applications at competitive colleges that require the SAT or ACT for admission — has found that ending the requirement would lead to demonstrable gains in the percentages of black and Latino students, and working class or economically disadvantaged students, who are admitted.

Privacy issues:  I, as a teacher,  don’t want to be tracked along with students:

According to the latest progress report from the DQC, 42 states can now report uniform graduation-rate data; all but two states can match state test records for individual students from year to year; and 29 states can track individual students’ college-readiness test scores.

The most difficult data point continues to be establishing teacher-identifier systems to match student-achievement data with individual teachers. (“State Progress on Data Seen as Threatened,” December 10, 2008.)

Somehow yet again we determine how a teacher performs by how the students perform on a standardized test?  This like using a brick to push in a tack.  Standardized testing is not the way to determine teacher quality, because in reality, teachers have very little control over what happens in curriculum decisions, testing decisions, or even whether or not a child receives help for a learning disability.

“We need great data systems that can track children throughout their education trajectory,” Mr. Duncan said March 11 in a call to reporters, adding that those data systems must be able to track achievement in relation to individual teachers, and then teachers back to their schools of education.

Obama’s Administration is using the parents to sell their kids into a sort of socialized schooling regime whereby children are tracked as early as preschool to “follow their progress” throughout their childhood.  To what end?  Why violate a child’s right to privacy in good or bad test scores?  Saying this benefits the common good is a socialist position, and saying that the data will be up to government use is more socialist data.  how is a child to ever escape a bad test score, a poor grade (maybe on the grader’s error), or anything else allt he way through school , simply by starting in a public preschool.  Do we open up our own children to this level of investigation?  Who uses the data and for what?  Without restrictions, this is just socialist propaganda and a violation of privacy for the teachers and students.  ARe the administrators tracked?  What about tracking the people who track the data?

Would they put the data out there for every government employee’s test score and where they trained?  So, I, as a teacher get dinged because I have class of mostly cognitively impaired students (“mildly” as the school psychologist puts it because she has stick up her ass and doesn’t have to teach these kids) and I take a hit?  I, the teacher who got all these kids because I have more than 5 years experience teaching, gets assigned these kids cause the other newbie teacher cries in the corner when the kids throw spitballs at her?  No government employee or administrator has to undergo these sorts of tests, but hey, put the kids on the front line for identity theft and socialst tracking, because after all, its the Obama thing to do.

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