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11-08-06, 03:16 AM #1
9 year old student suspended for refusing to answering test question
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Tyler Stoken was a well-behaved fourth grader who enjoyed school, earned A's and B's and performed well on standardized tests.
In May 2005, he'd completed five of the six days of the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning exam, called WASL, part of the state's No Child Left Behind test.
Then Tyler came upon this question: ``While looking out the window one day at school, you notice the principal flying in the air. In several paragraphs, write a story telling what happens.''
The nine-year-old was afraid to answer the question about his principal, Olivia McCarthy. ``I didn't want to make fun of her,'' he says, explaining he was taught to write the first thing that entered his mind on the state writing test.
In this case, Tyler's initial thoughts would have been embarrassing and mean. So even after repeated requests by school personnel, and ultimately the principal herself, Tyler left the answer space blank. ``He didn't want them to know what he was thinking, that she was a witch on a broomstick,'' says Tyler's mother, Amanda Wolfe, sitting next to her son in the family's ranch home three blocks from Central Park Elementary School in Aberdeen, Washington.
Because Tyler didn't answer the question, McCarthy suspended him for five days. He recalls the principal reprimanding him by saying his test score could bring down the entire school's performance.
``Good job, bud, you've ruined it for everyone in the school, the teachers and the school,'' Tyler says McCarthy told him.
Aberdeen School District Superintendent Martin Kay ordered an investigation. ``My suspension was for refusal to comply with a reasonable request, and to teach Tyler that that could harm him in the future,'' McCarthy told an investigator. ``I never, for a second, questioned my actions.''
Tyler, who's 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall and weighs 70 pounds (32 kilograms), hasn't been the same since, his mother says.
``He liked the principal before this,'' she says. ``He cried. He didn't understand why she'd done this to him.''
Now, Tyler blows up at the drop of a hat, his mother says. ``They created a monster. He'll never take that test again, even if I have to take him to another state,'' she says.
Tyler's attitude about school changed. He became shyer. He's afraid of all tests and doesn't do as well in classes anymore, his mother says.
McCarthy's May 6, 2005, letter to Tyler's mother detailed her son's suspension. ``The fact that Tyler chose to simply refuse to work on the WASL after many reasonable requests is none other than blatant defiance and insubordination,'' McCarthy wrote.
In the letter, she accused Tyler of bringing down the average score of the other 10 students in his class. ``As we have worked so hard this year to improve our writing skills, this is a particularly egregious wound,'' McCarthy wrote.
Her accusation was wrong, state regulations show. There is no averaging of the writing scores. Each student either meets or fails the state standard.
Tita Mallory, director of curriculum and assessment for the Aberdeen School District, says school officials feel tremendous pressure because of the high-stakes tests.
While there's no academic effect on elementary school children taking the exams, there can be repercussions for school administrators. When schools repeatedly fail to show adequate yearly progress, as defined by No Child, the principal can be fired.
``In many ways, there's too much emphasis on the test,'' Mallory says. ``I don't want that kind of pressure on our kids.''
Out of 74,184 fourth graders taking the WASL test last year, 42.3 percent failed to meet the state standard for writing.
Juanita Doyon, director of Mothers Against WASL and author of, ``Not With Our Kids You Don't! Ten Strategies to Save Our Schools'' (Heinemann, 144 pages, $14.95), says Tyler's experience is representative of what's wrong with tests like the WASL.
``They took a student who loved his school and crushed his spirit,'' Doyon, 46, says.
``We've elevated test scores to be the most important part of school. The principal and teachers are so pressured by the test that they've lost good sense in dealing with children.''
11-08-06, 03:53 PM #2
Well, that was a little harsh...Former member of the LNC
Will take verbal abuse for spare change
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11-08-06, 03:59 PM #3
Come one. The kid was raised not to make fun of people and he gets this... shame.
11-08-06, 04:00 PM #4
Pretty harsh to say the least. Seems like these teachers need to go back and figure out why they got into teaching.Calm Like A Bomb...
“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
11-08-06, 04:08 PM #5
if I was that kid, I would have written a 2 page essay on what a seething "See yoU Next Tuesday" that principle is.The virtue of spirit has no need for thanks or approval. Only the certain conviction that what has been done is right. -Jor El, as played by Marlon Brando
11-08-06, 04:21 PM #6
My son went to school during Alan Bersin's regime as School Superintendent in San Diego.
They didn't let kindergartner's color with crayons because it was "non-academic." (Who needs small motor skills anyway)
They also diverted "Library Act" funds. Since they eliminated the Librarians, and cut back the hours kids get to spend in the library, they didn't need to replace 30 year old books. They spent the money on books only teachers had access to.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
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