Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Overemphasis on the MSAs: Even the KIDS get it!

Even the children in MCPS "get" it.  Here's a delightful letter written by a fifth grader, and posted on the "Crunchy Progressive Parenting" blog  on November 8, 2012, about how MSA test prep activities are excessive:

To Whom It May Concern,
    What is the point of the practice MSAs? If they’re just to get us ready for the proper MSA, we already are. Most of the fifth-graders have taken it at least once, and the fourth-graders have usually taken it once before. I know there are some people who have just come to this school and are new, and the third-graders certainly haven’t taken it before. Maybe they should have the practice MSA, but it doesn’t mean all three grades should have to take it. It messes up schedules, and last year, I had to choose between instrumental music and my special. Nobody offered a make-up time, instructions on which to do, or even an apology I’d have to miss something. I don’t even think that’s a choice people should have to make.    It also eats up our reading and math time. We don’t even get to read when we finish a section of the practice MSAs! Maybe it’s not allowed on the real one, but what about the practices? You’re supposed to check your work when you’re done. Okay. Once you’ve checked your work three times and you still have ten or fifteen or maybe twenty minutes left, is there any merit to checking it again? And then what are you supposed to do? If it’s still “good practice”, why is it as strict as the real MSA?    Last year, among all the vocabulary quizzes, words of the day, and learning time spent reviewing strategies and going through packets, I think we got in more than enough practice time, and the tests really seemed unnecessary.    MSAs are about reading and math, but instead of spending our time working up to the MSA focusing on reading and math(and science, in the case of the fifth-graders), we focus on test strategies. We’re learning how to take a test, not how to be good at reading and math.    Altogether, I think we overload on MSA practice.
Sincerely,(5th grader)

If this wonderful 5th grader sees the flaws with endless "test prep," why can't the adults in charge? Sign this kid up on my team.

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