Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Students protest because they failed test

Some of our high schools seniors protested in front of the administration building of the Toledo Public Schools yesterday - because they failed one portion of the Ohio Graduation Test and won't be able to graduate.

According to the article in The Blade, some of the students and their parents tried applying pressure yesterday to force the district to let seniors who failed the required exam walk across the stage.

According to the paper, 10% of the graduating students did not pass - which means that 90% did pass and can graduate. Of the 1,486 graduating seniors, only 295 took part of the test in March, which means that all the others had passed all portions of the test previously. The district says it will follow the rules, and not make an exception for these students, but some may be eligible for a waiver and, if so, can still graduate.

This article raises quite a few questions. What's the purpose of setting a graduation test and making passage required for graduation if you're also going to set up a waiver system to get around the test?

One of the protesters attends Scott High school and has a 4.0 gpa. Scott is one of the schools with 'honors' classes where you get an extra point for each grade (A=5 pts, not 4 and on down the line). So I wondered if this student with a 4.0 had taken honors classes - and, if so, why couldn't she pass her exam? If you're capable of earning a 4.0, do you just not take exams well or did you think that because you've got a 4.0 you didn't have study for the OGT?

And then I read, too, farther down the article that this is the third year these students have had to pass the exam - and I wondered what their scores were on the previous tests - were they showing improvements in their scores?

And then I worry about 'teaching to the test' - which is something I don't think should be done.

But I don't know that protesting their inability to walk across the stage was the right thing to do - those are the rules and they've been in place long enough for all the students to know about them. One student said, "“I didn’t pass the science part by seven points. I feel that it’s wrong."

Are these students and their parents suggesting that we ignore the rules because it makes them unhappy or prevents them from doing something that they want to do? Well - welcome to the real world where this kind of thing happens on a regular basis...perhaps this is good training for after graduation.

If there are problems with the tests - the administration or the preparation, etc. - then let's address them. But let's also instill in our students some personal responsibility for their own behavior along the way.


Luke said...

I don't think we should "teach to the test" either. I had to take proficiency tests in order to graduate from high school back 1997. They weren't that hard. Most people, if they had a problem, had a problem with the math section - big surprise. But if you are a 4.0 student, there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn't pass the OGT...especially if you have had more than half a dozen tries at passing.

I agree with you, this is a good lesson for what the real world is like.


Smoke If You Got 'Em

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Lisa Renee said...

If Toledo ended up with 90% of their student's passing the OGT then graduating that's higher than the state average that the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported of 78%. While it would be great to have 100% who pass, it does demonstrate we are at least above the state average.

-Sepp said...

Incentive to try harder? Incentive to study and excell? God forbid.
What I see are a bunch of kids with ready made "victim of the system" cards they have conditioned to play whenever real-life's rules get in the way. Can't walk across that stage with your peers who took the time to prepare and pass the test? Learn a lesson and drive on.
I was a 1/4 credit short to graduate with my class and ended up having to return to school the next fall for 1 hour a day and finnish in November instead of June. The lesson? Get off my ass and get things done...a lesson that I still live by to this day and haven't allowed myself to be short since.

Kurt said...

What exactly are they protesting? Hey look at us, we failed. What's next, not getting accepted at a nonopen-enrollment school? Maybe I don't understand their position because I've never had a problem with standardized tests, but in the same respect, they had the opportunity to make the portions they missed in two years, and still continued to fail. I don't understand their position.

Chad said...

As a former host family for exchange students I can personally attest to the vast differences between European students and American kids. All 3 of the kids we hosted we're at least 2 grades ahead of local students. It's called work ethic and determination to learn the most they can. Both the French and Russian students were bored with our ciriculum and stated that they had done that work several years earlier in their education. Kam and Arnaud tested at 3rd yr college levals..not 10th grade levels. Even Romain, a 14 yr/old, tested at 1st yr college. So the crux here is we don't teach enough, we don't expect enough and extra carricular activities are way too importnat here in the USA> In Europe, Fundemental education is vastly more important than fluff like sports and all that jazz. The kids have a different school year all together with nearly yr round school sessions. They break it up in shorter, more frequent breaks, like having "Holiday" 3 times a year rather than all summer long.

Just to be considered for a exchange program, they have to be in the top of their class in the basics as well as having to learn english for at least 4 years in addition to the normal courses.

All of our exchange students knew no less than 3 launguages each and Arnaud mastered 5 launguages. I guess that why When he came back to visit us a couple of years ago that he is already employed with an international company and travels the world making 3 times the money I do..LOL! And he's not even 24 yet..ha!

Maggie Thurber said...

chad - it seems we're more interested in how the FEEL about themselves rather than in expecting that they're going to be held to high expectations...

We see it in Little Leagues - where they no longer keep score so no one loses...or where we reward for attendance and participation rather than knowledge...

We're not helping them to be better, we're making them comfortable in their failures.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kurt - I think this protest backfired on them...rather than generate sympathy for their position and getting the rules changed, many are saying that the rules are the rules - live with them...

Chad said...

My Rule on parenting...and kids..listen up!

Parenting is NOT a debate or a democracy, parenting is a dictatorship!

I hate the term, but "Dumbing Down" is a very accurate description of American Education. Ever ask a teen to make change? Without a caculator? No civics classes, no real history and with the Google world we live in, studying is a joke! Teaching kids to reason, explore and formulate their own opinion is almost dead in the society we live in.

Europe won't have to use a military to take over our Country, if they wait just a lil longer, they will out think us into submission.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I'd like to argue the point with Chad, but he's right on target.

You know the same things can be said of our public schools be students coming on board from our private and parochial schools...

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