At the beginning of the year when students arrive, it is critical that we establish trust, build a rapport, build relationships, and establish routines. We should be building this rapport, but instead, we are testing. Many of these young children have never been in school before. Many of these young children have lived in poverty with very little structure or boundaries, but are suddenly asked to find ways to get along with a very large group of diverse people. They struggle to adjust and often feel unsafe. We should be teaching these skills, but instead, we are testing. 

Hitting, kicking, biting, and scratching are common at the beginning of the year as children don’t have the social-emotional skills and language/vocabulary/strategies to solve problems using words vs physical “solutions”. We should be teaching these skills, but instead, we are testing.

They are not accustomed to a loud boisterous group of 100′s of children’s voices at lunch time, don’t know how to walk in a straight line, don’t know how to follow a teacher and a group of strangers to a variety of rooms, don’t know yet how to follow the different varying sets of rules across environments and different teachers (music, library, PE, lunch, recess) all with a variety of structures in place. We should be teaching these skills, but instead, we are testing.

Many need support with learning how to use the restroom independently as they are used to mom or dad’s support. (Where to put the toilet paper vs where to put the paper towels?, etc.) Many are frightened, have anxiety, and struggle to stay awake for a full day of kindergarten. There are tears and “owies” that need care, shoes that are untied, running in places that require walking feet, etc. We should be showing we care and teaching these skills, but instead we are testing.

The beginning of kindergarten looks much like “herding cats” and takes an amazing amount of energy, love, and trust building to establish a safe environment for all children. Yet instead, we are required to immediately begin TSGAT, our CBA’s, DIBELS, and Common Core math assessments. Data entry is on a timeline. Assessment windows slam shut if we don’t meet deadlines. Children’s needs are put on hold, but have you ever asked a 5 year old to wait for 1/2 hour while you assess another child? These children have not yet learned independence,”

The beginning of kindergarten looks much like “herding cats” and takes an amazing amount of energy, love, and trust building to establish a safe environment for all children. Yet instead, we are required to immediately begin (DCAS), our CBA’s, DIBELS, and Common Core math assessments. Data entry is on a timeline. Assessment windows slam shut if we don’t meet deadlines. Children’s needs are put on hold, but have you ever asked a 5 year old to wait for 1/2 hour while you assess another child? These children have not yet learned independence.

“Teachers are talking about how their children are struggling with independence this year more than ever before. Why? I have analyzed what is different this year in my students’ behavior and independent skills. The difference is increased testing at the beginning critical time period and throughout the year. Because of all the time lost to testing which could have been used to teach independence, to teach math skills, to teach reading skills, to teach social skills… to teach through developmentally appropriate methods of teaching – because of this loss, my children are less independent than when I don’t have layers of 1:1 testing. Instead, we are mandated to perform assessments on students that result in the exact evidence we can predict they would.”

Five year olds should be playing, exploring, running, jumping, climbing, painting, modeling out of clay, creating, solving real world problems with their clear sense of innocent social justice, learning how to interact with large diverse groups through play, using Montessori-like hands-on materials from nature to learn math, reading, science, etc. Their interests and talents should be foremost, not canned scripted curriculum and “rigor”. Five year olds should be free of high stakes, labels of “failure”, culling, and standardized testing except in the few instances when we use these for evaluative purposes to get children the special education services they need, period.

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There are many people to blame.  But in Delaware, they are these:  Governor Jack Markell, Secretary Mark Murphy, and Senator Dave Sokola and Darryl Scott….  Some may pronounce them as sinister.  I would characterize it as the expected result of throwing money at a problem, without thinking, planning, or giving any direction.  But as one can see from the above, every year of Common Core throughly damages that year’s new crop of children permanently,  a damage irreparable all the way up through the next 12 years…. (if they make it that far)..  Expectations are that when this years kindergarteners get to 9th Grade, there will be massive quittings, the like never before seen.

So what do you think?  Is what’s being done to them… , child abuse?

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