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Volume 3 Number 9

U.S.Coast Guard AVDET 157 welcomes the opportunity during deployment to the South Pole to communicate with classrooms across the United States. Throughout the voyage, aviation personnel will correspond with schools that are interested in Operation Deep Freeze...
Teachers.Net Teams with U.S. Coast Guard Operation Deep Freeze from The Editor, Kathleen Carpenter
Homework as an Issue in American Politics by Etta Kralovec & John Buell
Preparing for the One Year Anniversary by David J. Schonfeld, MD
The Anniversary of September 11th: Teachers' Guide for Talking to Your Students from the National Center For Children Exposed To Violence
Books About September 11, 2001 by Kathleen Carpenter, Editor
Privacy in a Technological Age by Dr. Rob Reilly
Relational Discipline by Bill Page
Teachers Are Individuals Too by Bill Page
Veteran Educators Share Tips for New Teachers Compiled by Jerry Taylor
Learning Centers - 3 Helpful Threads from the NEW Learning Centers Chatboard
Bits and Pieces - Various Small Articles by The Teachers.Net Community
  • For School Administrators and Teachers:
    A Book and Planting Activity for Beginning the School Year
  • Ideas for Open House
  • Breaking the Ice in 7th Grade
  • Book Recommendation
  • Favorite Kid Quotes
  • Uses for Old Business Cards
  • What Makes a Truly Great Principal? A chatboard survey initiated by "TLC"
    A Word Wall Story by Louise/2/Albuquerque
    Teaching Gayle To Read (Part 7) by Grace Vyduna-Haskins
    Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by JoAnn Deak
    Dear Old Golden Rule Days, Chapter 3 - Music by Janet Farquhar
    Emphasis On Testing Leads To Sacrifices In Other Areas by Alfie Kohn
    Pension Loophole Exploited by Allen Pusey - The Dallas Morning News
    Focus on After-School Time for Violence Prevention from: ERIC Clearinghouse
    Beyond Books: Making the Most of Today's Library Resources by Cindy Rogers
    Master Teachers Have Healthy Self-Esteems by Glenn Dietzel
    Distance Learning and Disabled Students by Jeff Redding
    September Columns
    September Regular Features
    September Informational Items
    Gazette Home Delivery:

    About Alfie Kohn...
    Alfie Kohn has written eight books on education and human behavior, including The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards" (Houghton Mifflin), Punished by Rewards (Houghton Mifflin), and The Case Against Standardized Testing (Heinemann).

    For more information, visit

    Books by Alfie Kohn

    The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools
    by Alfie Kohn

    $11.00 from
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    Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
    by Alfie Kohn

    $11.20 from
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    Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community
    by Alfie Kohn

    $18.75 from
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    The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life
    by Alfie Kohn

    $18.00 from
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    No Contest: The Case Against Competition
    by Alfie Kohn

    $11.20 from
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    What to Look for in a Classroom: And Other Essays
    by Alfie Kohn

    $12.60 from
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    The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and Tougher Standards
    by Alfie Kohn

    $11.20 from
    More information


    Teacher Feature...

    Emphasis On Testing Leads To Sacrifices In Other Areas

    by Alfie Kohn
    "Copyright August 22, 2001 by Alfie Kohn. Reprinted from with the author's permission"

    Even as teachers ready their lesson plans for the new school year, they are keeping a wary eye on Washington, D.C. A congressional conference committee next month is expected to hammer out a version of President Bush's plan to require standardized testing for students at every grade level (from third through eighth) in every state.

    Heated debate continues about whether these exams really are accurate indicators of children's capabilities and whether students ought to be flunked or prevented from graduating on the basis of a single score. Less attention has been paid to an equally important question: Given that time and energy are limited, what is being sacrificed when schools are forced to focus on test results?

    The answers are increasingly clear --- and disturbing --- as evidence accumulates from across the USA:

    • Science and social studies have been severely trimmed in states that do not include those subjects on standardized tests. For example, according to two Texas researchers, Linda McNeil at Rice University and Angela Valenzuela at the University of Texas, "Many science teachers in schools with poor and minority children are required by their principals to suspend the teaching of science for weeks, and in some cases for months, in order to devote science class time to drill and practice" on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. (Higher test scores are then widely cited as evidence of school improvement.)
    • Despite the nearly unanimous view of experts that play is critical to development, recess has been cut back as a result of testing pressures. In Atlanta, where recess was simply eliminated, at least one new school was built without a playground. A recent survey of 225 Massachusetts school districts found that many schools have cut physical education programs in half, with some offering only 30 minutes per week. Parents in Virginia Beach and Palm Beach County, Fla., have resorted to petition drives to bring back recess.
    • "The arts and music have all but disappeared from many schools" in Washington, reports The Seattle Times, a vanishing act observed from coast to coast.
    • Because most tests focus on isolated language skills --- or, at best, analysis of short fragments of text --- many children are finding less opportunity to read real books. One New York City teacher, compelled to use a heavily scripted program called "Success for All," was asked whether she was still allowing her students to read books of their own choosing. Declining to give her name for fear of being fired, she replied: "We haven't been doing any reading since we started preparing the kids for the reading test."
    • Community service, character education, democratic class meetings and other programs to help children become good people as well as good learners have been sharply reduced. One primary-grade teacher in Milwaukee told that city's school board in June that frequent testing of her students means they can no longer contribute to a Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people or prepare games for cancer patients at a children's hospital.
    • Extended activities in which students solve complicated problems, apply skills to real-life situations or design projects covering many subject areas are increasingly in short supply. Among the lessons eliminated in the name of "raising standards": a Boston school's in-depth unit in which each class studied one country, culminating in a schoolwide international fair; and a medical mentorship program that paired New Rochelle, N.Y., teens with doctors.
    • There are fewer opportunities to learn outside the classroom. All field trips in Ravenswood City, Calif., elementary schools were suspended until after the spring testing cycle.

    The list goes on. From high-quality high school electives to focused discussions of current events (such as last November's historic election), some of the richest learning opportunities are being squeezed out. And all this is before the enactment of a new federal requirement for even more testing.

    From atop Mount Olympus, where no children live, it may seem reasonable to demand "tougher standards" and to recite slogans such as "accountability." But in real schools, things look quite different. We need to think carefully about the tradeoffs the current school-reform movement entails.

    Indeed, the evidence suggests that higher scores in a given school or community may actually be cause for concern. Reports of rising test performance should lead us to ask, "What was taken away from my children's education in order to make them better at taking standardized tests?"

    Alfie Kohn's books include The Schools Our Children Deserve. He lives in Belmont, Mass.

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