Posts Tagged ‘ standardized tests ’

Don’t Forget Why These Indian Parents Helped Their Children Cheat

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Cheat sheetLast week nearly 1.4 million students in India sat down to take a high-stakes exit exam. Around the world, students participate in forms of standardized testing all of the time, so why are these 10th grade exams making headlines? Because some of the kids’ parents were climbing up walls in an effort to help them pass the exam, that’s why.

Yes, you heard correctly—family members and friends were photographed scaling up several floors to hand off cheat sheets to students inside. It’s also been rumored that security and police officers were accepting bribes in exchange for turning a blind eye—not shocking considering just how many people were participating in the “climb.”

These parents want their children to succeed and, in many cases, India’s flawed education system is not allowing students to do so. According to the Washington Post, ”Education experts say that cheating is just a symptom of the deeper problems that plague India’s education system, such as teacher absenteeism, emphasis on rote learning and inadequate school infrastructure.”

Nearly two dozen Indian parents were apprehended and released hours later, and approximately 600 students were expelled as a result of the cheating, reports the Daily News.

If a student in India fails this exam, it’s likely that they will drop out of school, and these parents were trying to prevent that. They want their children to be educated and have opportunities that they may not have had themselves, and isn’t that what every parent wants for their child?

Lest we forget, systemic cheating has happened in our own country as well. Just a few years ago, Atlanta’s public school system came under harsh scrutiny after 178 teachers and principals in 44 schools confessed to cheating on numerous state-mandated exams.

I believe cheating is wrong, of course, and in no way should a parent, who is supposed to be their child’s role model, exemplify this type of behavior—but when I saw the images of these parents going to such great lengths to help their kids, I couldn’t help but feel just a tiny bit sympathic. What’s your take?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Income's Impact on Education
Income's Impact on Education
Income's Impact on Education

Image: Student using cheat sheet via Shutterstock

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Why I Don’t Like School Rankings

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

I spend a lot of time every week working for Parents on stories that rank things—from children’s hospitals to Caribbean islands, theme parks to birthday party places. By all accounts, the numbers geek in me should be all over my daughter’s school rankings, whether they’re from the state or an education website. But I don’t even bother looking them up anymore because I think the methodology is shaky. And if you’re using rankings to decide where your child is going to go to kindergarten in the fall, I’d put more stock in the gut feeling from the school tour.

Here’s why: The basis of these rankings is most often standardized test results (and they’re under a lot of fire these days for whether they’re a valid way to measure what kids learn). Even if you do have a sound standardized tests that all kids could take, you’d still have to be very careful when looking at the data comparing two schools because the number of children with learning disabilities, non-English speaking students, and economically disadvantaged kids (all of which likely have lower test scores) would probably be different at each school. What’s more, if a school has a lot of students who transferred there within the last year or two, it muddies the picture too.

A couple of years ago, a national magazine ranked a high school in my area the second best in the state. I was confounded at that because this school didn’t have high-school sports teams, a theater program, or much else in the way of extra-curricular activities. But the magazine didn’t take that into consideration.

For what it’s worth, I think the best schools have a diverse student body; loving, involved parents; dedicated teachers who are problem-solvers, as well as an administration who is willing to take risks. Unfortunately, school rankings come up short in giving up this information.

Karen Cicero is contributing nutrition and travel editor at Parents, and mom of a tween. You can follow her on Twitter at @karencicero. 

 

 

Preparing for the First Day of School
Preparing for the First Day of School
Preparing for the First Day of School

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Common Core Controversy

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

A few months ago Parents addressed the growing rebellion against standardized tests, which are taking over curriculums at elementary schools due to both No Child Left Behind and the new nationalized standards known as the Common Core. If your child isn’t in grade 3 or higher, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about. Well, I have a fourth-grader, so I know. And it isn’t pretty. Recently, my daughter was given a division problem that, at the same age, I could have done in my head. Instead, she was instructed to guesstimate using multiplication and add up the numbers again and again in a column until she came up with the right total. It took me a while to even figure out what she was doing and a good five minutes plus for her to solve it. Then I realized: She was being forced to make simple math more complicated. Why? Because it’s essential practice for the Common Core exam in the spring. Unless she used the prescribed method and showed her work, she wouldn’t get credit—even if she got the answer right. Sheesh! I love math, but I’m pretty sure if I had to do it the way she’s being taught, I’d hate it.

I’m far from the only one. Objections to the Common Core—which isn’t a curriculum, per se, but rather a set of standards our kids are expected to meet, grade by grade—are widespread. Four states have opted out, Minnesota chose not to adopt the math standards, and 20 states have experienced strong opposition, including public forums and legislative bills that attempt to reject the standards. Parent protests have become, well, a common occurrence. The emphasis on the results of a single uniform exam forces schools to teach to the test (and crowds out other subjects not measured by it). Plus, a number of observers who’ve seen the exams (or practice ones) say many of the questions are worded in a way that seems obtuse to adults, much less the kids they are targeted for. So a child who knows how to do the math can still easily get the wrong answer.

We all want our kids to achieve more in school and to be able to compete with their international peers. But whether the Common Core will truly help them do so (or even whether it will survive in its current form) is very much up for discussion. Meanwhile, if you want to hear (actually see) more arguments against its implementation, watch this video of an impassioned Arkansas mom or this one of a Tennessee high school student who believes the Core is rotten.

We Need More Physical Education in Schools
We Need More Physical Education in Schools
We Need More Physical Education in Schools

Young boy showing stress with schoolwork via Shutterstock

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