Aussie Friends of Treehorn
“I let the fury get the best of me. Like I said, my eyes welled up with tears out of anger and frustration. You diminished my child to five categories.
…Screw you, Common Core State Standards [=NAPLAN] and all the people that came up with this crap program.”
In one of her facebook entries, Diane Ravitch [“Reign of Error”], printed a letter that she had received from a non-teacher US mother who had just received notification from the equivalent of Australia’s ACARA to tell her that her slow learning son was performing at a level below the New York state standards for Mathematics. In this extract, I have changed some organisational descriptors to suit Australian conditions………as if the letter was written by an Aussie mum. Check on the original if you wish on http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/09/23372
“I let the fury get the best of me. Like I said, my eyes welled up with tears out of anger and frustration. You diminished my child to 5 categories and to simplify the wording you chose, deemed him “too stupid to be in the grade level he is currently in. “ Screw you ACARA and all the people that came up with this crap program. Screw you for its horrible implementation. Screw you for not considering the kids who are not on the right side of the bell curve. Screw you for not thinking about the kids who are developmentally delayed. Screw you for not thinking about the kids who aren’t developmentally delayed, but just don’t test well. Screw you for putting pressures on teachers. Screw you for allowing the kids to feel this pressure; it is bound to impact them. Screw you for allowing this chaos to spill over into our homes and mess with our emotions, both child and parent. Screw you for NAPLAN and evaluating my son’s teachers on his test score. Screw you for creating a problem in which our kids are ragdolls and in which big businesses will be allowed to profit. I’m not a conspiracy theorist; I just call it like I see it. I am done with this. I’m not political. I’m for kids. I am for teachers and most importantly I’m for my son.
I am still learning about NAPLAN and I don’t claim to know it all, as some do, but what I do know is this, he is not a score and neither are his teachers! I don’t care what he received on these tests. I never did and I told him the same. What I do care about and what I would hope you do too is what you can’t measure on these tests. The light in the eyes when he finally tackles a problem, be it Math or Literacy, which he has been struggling to get and because of the help of his teachers he succeeds. The hard work my son demonstrates at the dining table, studying spelling. The joy we ALL feel because he has stood up for someone who was being bullied. The time when he conquered his fear of heights, outside of school on a Saturday, using tools he learned in school, from whom? Yes, from his teachers! I realise carrying the diagnosis of autism is not the norm for most; however were children, like my son, in mind when NAPLAN was implemented? Because he sure doesn’t like it.
I will say this one more time. My son, Liam, is NOT your NAPLAN test score. He is a 9 year old boy, who works hard in all aspects of school. He receives tremendous support and kindness and life lessons from his teachers. He will be successful because of them, not because of this test. How do you evaluate that? That is my million dollar question.”
Chris Pyne should read this letter. Julia Gillard should read it. State Minsters should read it. ACARA staff should read it. APPA and ASPA should read it. ACE and ACEL should read it. All principals’ and teachers’ associations should read it. AEU and state teachers’ unions should read it.
Their complicity and use of SBT testing, such as NAPLAN, has had too many Aussie victims like Liam. A few hundred victims are too many. There are thousands. Far too many.
Screw all testucators. They shouldn’t be allowed near schools.
As Sir Ken Robinson said,
- “The dominant culture of testing is dangerous. It obstructs learning and does not excite curiosity and creativity.”
- “While literacy and numeracy are important, tests can’t measure the things that matter.”
- “ Education is not mechanical; it is human. We need to embrace a different metaphor – a human one.”
- “ We need to institute a climate of [a] Individualised teaching and learning;  Accord high status to teachers. Invest in teachers.  Pass full responsibility to schools to get the job done.
- “ The good work being done in schools is being done in spite of the dominant culture of testing; not because of it.
- “The real role of leadership is not ‘command and control’, but to control a climate of possibilities.
“Benjamin Franklin says that there are three kinds of people in the world: 1. Those who are not moveable. 2. Those who are moveable. 3. Those who move. When people move, that’s a revolution – that’s what we need.”
Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue, Banora Point 2486 07 5524 6443 firstname.lastname@example.org