Obama Says Too Much Testing Makes Education Boring

Erica Werner, Breitbart, March 28, 2011

President Barack Obama said Monday that students should take fewer standardized tests and school performance should be measured in other ways than just exam results. Too much testing makes education boring for kids, he said.

“Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C.

Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation’s education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that “everybody agrees makes sense” and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually.

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“One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.”

“And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”

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Obama, who has been pushing his education agenda all month, has expressed concern that too many schools will be unable to meet annual proficiency standards under the No Child Left Behind law this year. The standards are aimed at getting 100 percent of students proficient in math, reading and science by 2014, a goal now widely seen as unrealistic.

The Obama administration has proposed replacing those standards with a less prescriptive requirement that by 2020 all students graduating from high school should be ready for college or a career.

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Latino students make up one in five of all students in prekindergarten through high school in the U.S. but lag far behind whites in educational attainment, with less than one in three graduating from high school, according to federal Education Department figures. Obama emphasized to his largely Hispanic audience the importance of staying in school and he noted that more and more jobs will require advanced degrees.

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  • Pelayo

    As a teacher of over 4 decades, I’ve watched the steady decline in the quality of education. It started with the era of ” Self Esteen” which previously was considered something that was gained by accomplishment, the product of academic effort.

    Back in the early 70s, the Progressives decided that self esteem was something that could was now bestowed. This led to the lowering of the bar for everyone. I remember test questions that were “close to correct and therefore were worth partial credit.

    The next stage was Edutainment where everything had to be made “fun”. So much time was spent creating fun activities that the curriculum was watered down. Group work was modified so that lower performing students were grouped with high performers in the belief that the low achievers would somehow improve. A group grade was required and that only resulted in the high achievers of each group bearing all the burden rather than have their grade adversely affected due to the slackers. Each student had to produce evidence of his/her contribution but that was generally done for them by the high performers. Grading by rubric became the norm. Rubrics have their place but there must be a time when students can be evaluated by specific performance.

    Teachers now sit by the hour creating Power Points. I would pass class rooms on my Hall Duty and rarely see lights other than those of the projector on the presentation cart.

    Even foreign language teachers climbed on the PP bandwagen. I used a few sparingly in an effort to “fit in” and I often heard “Oh no! Another PP! That’s all we’ve had since the beginning of the day.”

    The age of person to person interaction is dead.