What crisis is Governor Daugaard trying to fix with HB 1234?
Blog madman and metaphorist Larry Kurtz posts a trivioid finding South Dakota students earn the eighth-best SAT and ACT scores in the country. Back in 1999, we were twelfth in SAT scores. If you dig test scores, you have to admit there is no crisis in South Dakota education. South Dakota kids aren't just doing well; they're getting smarter! (Clearly, their exposure to the fine writing of the South Dakota blogospheric classroom deserves some credit.)
Of course, if you don't dig test scores, you're not alone:
In a growing number of states, scores on standardized tests weigh heavily in determining whether an 8-year-old advances to the next grade with her classmates; whether a teen can get his high school diploma; which teachers keep their jobs; how much those teachers are paid; and even which public schools are shut down or turned over to private management.
Parents frustrated by the system say they're not against all standardized tests but resent the many hours their kids spend filling in multiple-choice bubbles and the wide-ranging consequence that poor scores carry. They say the testing regime piles stress on children and wastes classroom time. In elementary schools, they protest that a laser focus on the subjects tested, mostly math and reading, crowds out science, social studies and the arts. In high schools, they're fighting standardized exams that can determine a student's course grade in subjects from geometry to world history.
...More than 500 school boards in Texas have passed resolutions demanding a reduced focus on high-stakes standardized tests. So have several big school districts in Florida, including Broward County, the sixth-largest district in the United States. Parents in northwest Washington state organized a boycott this spring and kept hundreds of children out of state exams [Stephanie Simon, "Parents Protest Surge in Standardized Testing," Reuters.com, 2012.06.12].
Of course, those of you Daugaard conservatives who would lecture us that we are a Republic Not A Democracy!â„¢ would likely say those parents and local boards should hush up and let big central government do what it wants with your schools and your kids.