“My basic question began…,  “how do you rate how well a child reads?  What does that number score mean?”

The answer back, was that a child reads a passage, then repeats the words he read back to the teacher…. and those words are what are counted.   “If he uses 18 words, he has a score of 18. If he uses 28 he has a score of 28…. “

I was confused. I said, “so a child reads a passage, and let us say it is about Antarctica.  He has to memorize actual words  he read, and then, list all the individual words he remembers?  Do you count articles like “a” and “the”….?”

“Oh, no.  He just repeats back what he read, the meaning of the passage in his own words, tells us everything he can remember from the passage which we count and record the number of words… We are not concerned so much with what he says or whether he comprehends; we just count the number of words he can string together….”

….in a minute.”

“In a minute?” I ask?  “Now I’m curious.  What happens if a person has a disability with speaking, and talks much slower?  I can see where they could completely understand the passage, but by the time they get the words out, they are rated complete failure. What happens if the person stutters, .. below standard?”

“The department of education wants us to record everyone the same.  One standard for all.  No exceptions. It is the number of words per minute”

“Well, I can see where it would be important to maintain the sanctity of the standard, but it is really making a mockery of the intelligence of the person who is being tested.  Basically you are rating intelligence on how fast one talks… That would make people from Massachusetts and Minnesota, which are fast talking states, appear smarter than states in the South, like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, where they talk r-e-a-l  slow…..

Oh, my goodness.  That mirrors the NAEP… High reading scores where everyone grows up hearing language used quickly, and lower test scores where children grow up hearing it used slow…

“I’ll have to admit, it is not a perfect measure of one’s intelligence nor their knowledge.  It is just the way the test is designed….  We’ve known this a long time, but no one on top really even cares…”

“But that would make black people appear dumber than whites, unless of course, they grew up in a house where language was spoken quickly,  Southern Hillbillies would score low.  And second language learners, of course are slower because they are translating as they go, and they are getting a lower score because of the time it takes for them to say something…. but yet all of these could pass a written test fine.

It looks like our entire rating system predominantly hinges on this one trait,  speaking faster.   That could explain why the North has higher averages than the South, the East averages are higher than the West’s.

But yet the old fashioned teaching way worked fine and was fair to all…  We used to say: “read this passage and  answer the questions about what you read to see if you comprehended what you were reading….”

The new fashioned way of…  how many words can you repeat back to us, and does your repetition have a organized beginning,  body, and an end.,,  might be a good test for a game show on TV, one hinging on one certain skill, particularly how fast one’s tongue could move, but it is not a good measure of one’s intelligence.  A lot of very intelligent people are circumspect and weigh each word carefully, and speak slow because of their intelligence.

So if we are using this to rate our children, and then using our children’s performance to rate our teachers, their schools, our districts. doesn’t that put the entire standardized testing system now being developed with a half a billion dollars for Common Core, in disrepute?

Really, how can we go forward when those leading us from high within the Department of Educations, have no clue of what they do?  The speed at which people speak is determined on the language spoken around them while their brains developed between one and two years of age…  Therefore, Judging a teacher’s performance based on this very arbitrary trait, needs to be stopped….

What is wrong with our DSEA?

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