2011-12-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Too Long, Too Soon For Young Children

Most of our third-grade students are eight years old and some are as young as seven. We have maintained for some time that they are too young to be given the long-form, high-stakes reading and math tests. We agree with the experts who say that they are not developmentally ready to sit at a desk for several hours taking a test that teachers and parents tell them can change their entire future. Now, however, the state and the city have exacerbated the problem and the danger by extending the tests this April. The math test will add a third day of testing and be extended by 70 minutes. The reading test will also add a third day of testing and will be extended by 25 minutes. That may not sound like much to a high school student, but for an eight-year-old child, it may well be overwhelming. A spokesperson for the state’s department of education says that the increased testing is necessary and that it has “balanced the need for more detailed information about student learning with our concern for minimizing student stress.” We agree with others, however, who believe that the testing has become dangerous and intrusive to the educational process. “It’s pretty clear that the last thing we need right now is more testing,” said Michael Mulgrew, the UFT president. “Test prep is one of the biggest dangers that our kids face in schools right now. Preparing kids to take standardized tests does not lead to real education.” The superintendent of schools in the Jericho school system told the New York Times that he was concerned about adding to the stress level of his youngest students. He said that he already loses two weeks of instructional time to test prep, pre-tests, make-up tests and the like. “We’ve gotten into a mindset of over-testing our students,” he said. “We’re giving kids a high-stakes test above and beyond what is age and developmentally appropriate.” We agree.

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