STAR Testing A District To Death


When the superintendent wishes to throw himself a party, he tends to do it right. Last Thursday during the Board’s Work Session meeting (which they call “work sessions” so they can exclude public comments at the end), the Superintendent had Alabama Representatives singing his praises for his PTA Superintendent of the Year award last year, had board members singing his praises for winning yet another “major award” from eSchoolNews for being a “tech-savvy” superintendent of the year, and got to sing his own praises by telling the district just how amazing the school turnaround at Westlawn Middle is going. There was precious few non-scripted moments during the school board meeting this past Thursday, which is exactly what the superintendent wants: control.

(About the only non-scripted moment must have really chapped Dr. Wardynski’s backside as it ruined his plan to leverage local support for overturning the School Calendar “Opt-Out” bill into support for the Local Control School Flexibility Act. After Wardynski and Robinson made their claims that if you like having local control over the school calendar, then you should support the Flexibility Act, Senator Holtzclaw stood to point out that the Calendar “Opt-Out” bill and the School Flexibility Act are two separate bills. You could see Dr. Robinson’s face fall when he said this as she had been doing her best–as was Dr. Wardynski–to claim that the two bills were one. Thanks to Sen. Holtzclaw for stopping this farce. If only either of them bothered to read the local paper from time to time, they would have known that there were in fact two separate bills. I guess it’s too much to ask that our superintendent and school board actually read.)

For those who don’t know, a “turnaround” school is what happens to schools when they fail to achieve their AYP goals under Obama’s Race to the Top grant programs. Basically, a turnaround school loses all of its existing administration and the overwhelming majority of its teachers. In turn, the district receives a little over $1.5 million dollars for use at that school for personnel, extended learning time and “incentives” (bonuses paid to teachers for good results on the STAR test–yes, some teachers, not all, get a bonus if your child does better on a test).

The turnaround model isn’t beloved by everyone. Many low-income, minority communities across the nation are balking at the loss of local control and lack of parental involvement and input. And it seems that the data, and you know we’re all about DATA here in Huntsville, doesn’t support the claim that removing everyone from a school actually improves student performance.

But that was exactly what Dr. Wardynski was claiming on Thursday night. Here’s the video of Ms. Lynette Alexander walking the board and the enthusiastic faculty of Westlawn through the all important data that shows that the turnaround model is working. (If you would like to download the PowerPoint that Ms. Alexander was using, you may get a copy from here.)

STAR testing is AMAZING isn’t it? As are all the changes that Wardynski has made at Westlawn, including bringing in Teach for America (who made the first part of the presentation that night), and of course our beloved technology. These components led Cathy McNeal so aptly say, “I’ve never seen growth like this. It’s phenomenal.”

It’s Phenomenal

Now that we’re beyond the passion of the moment and we can think rationally about this report, let’s consider what we’ve heard.

Suddenly, because of just a few minor changes, miracles are occurring that lead a 40 year educational veteran to claim that she’s never seen growth like this.

Someone needs to let MsDr. McNeal know that when things look too good to be true . . . well, you know the cliché, don’t you?

There are a lot of interesting claims being made in this presentation. First, we start with Wardynski’s beloved STAR Enterprises Test that he brought to the district last year. This is a test that is administered across the district basically whenever the superintendent decides that he wants more data to play with. Officially it was supposed to be administered three times during the year: September, January, and March. However, the test has already been administered three times in September, October and January. It will likely be administered at least twice more in March and at the end of the year when our elementary students will sit for at least three consecutive weeks of testing with STAR, ARMT+ and the new ACT test.

District Testing

Setting aside for a moment the questions and doubts that any parent has with a district that is evaluating teachers on student test scores (remember when tests were used to evaluate students?), the district in its infinite wisdom has scheduled some form of testing every single month students are in school. Here’s a list:

  • STAR Enterprise Benchmark l, Grades K-2 September 10 – 14, 2012
  • STAR Enterprise Benchmark l, Grades 3-12 September 12 – 14, 2012
  • DIBELS Next (K-1) and DIBELS Grade 2 Sept 17-21, 2012
  • Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) September 17-21
    • Mathematics Monday, 9/17/12
    • Reading Tuesday, 9/18/12
    • Language Wednesday, 9/19/12
    • Social Studies Thursday, 9/20/12
    • Science/Biology (both tests) Friday, 9/21/12
  • PSAT October 17, 2012
  • EXPLORE Grade 8 & PLAN Grade 10 – Career Inventory Section October 18, 2012
  • EXPLORE Test, Grade 8 Academic Section October 23, 2012
  • PLAN, Grade 10 Academic Section October 23, 2012
  • EXPLORE & PLAN Make-Up Day October 24, 2012
  • Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) December 3-7, 2012
    • Science/Biology (both tests) Monday, 12/3/12
    • Mathematics Tuesday, 12/4/12
    • Reading Wednesday, 12/5/12
    • Language Thursday, 12/6/12
    • Social Studies Friday, 12/7/12
  • DIBELS Next (K-1) and DIBELS Grade 2 January 3 – 11, 2013
  • STAR Enterprise Benchmark ll, Grades K-12 January 14-18, 2013
  • Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) March 18-22, 2013
    • Science/Biology (both tests) Monday, 3/18/13
    • Mathematics Tuesday, 3/19/13
    • Reading Wednesday, 3/20/13
    • Social Studies Thursday, 3/21/13
    • Language Friday, 3/22/13
  • STAR Assessment Grades K-8 ONLY March 18-22, 2013
  • ACCESS for ELLs March 25 – May 3, 2013
  • Alternate ACCESS for ELLS March 25 – May 3, 2013
  • Alabama Alternate Assessment (AAA) April 15 – May 3, 2013
  • DIBELS Next (K-1) and DIBELS Grade 2 April 15 – 24, 2013
  • HCS ACT QualityCore End-of Course Assessments 2 – 45 minute tests – April 29 – May 2, 2013
    • English 11 (HCS Wavier Assessment) To be Announced
    • English 12 To be Announced
    • Algebra II (HCS Wavier Assessment) To be Announced
    • Pre Calculus To be Announced Chemistry To be Announced
    • Physics To be Announced US History (HCS Waiver Assessment) To be Announced
  • MANDATED ACT End-of-Course tests (1 day each) SDE will announce dates To be Announced
    • English 9 To be Announced
    • English 10 To be Announced
    • Algebra I To be Announced
    • Geometry To be Announced
    • Biology (HCS Waiver Assessment) To be Announced
    • International Baccalaureate (IB) Provisional April 30-May 22, 2013
  • STAR Assessment Grades K-12 April 29 – May 3, 2013
  • STAR Early Literacy April 29 – May 3, 2013
  • AP Exam May 6 – 17, 2013
  • Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test+ (ARMT+) Gr 3-8 May 6-14, 2013
    • ARMT+ Reading May 6, 2013
    • ARMT+ Reading May 7, 2013
    • ARMT+ Math May 8, 2013
    • ARMT+ Math May 9, 2013
    • ARMT+ Make Up May 10, 2013
    • ARMT+ Science (Grades 5 & 7) May 13, 2013
    • ARMT+ Make Up May 14, 2013

This is the official list, but it doesn’t include everything like the additional STAR Assessment that was administered in October. If you total the days by age group, you’ll find the following:

  • K-2: 43 of 180 days
  • 3rd-8th: 42 of 180 days
  • 9th-12th: 59 of 180 days.

This is what the district was “celebrating” last Thursday.

And if you think that’s bad, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Race to the Bottom

Remember when Ms. Alexander was talking about the “phenomenal” growth? I wonder how such growth could be achieved?

Well, it happens because every student who doesn’t benchmark on the first STAR test in September (or presumably October) has the benefit of taking a STAR practice test every single week of the year.

That’s right. Our lowest performing students are taking the STAR test every single week until they begin to “grow” in their performance. The STAR test evaluates two subjects: reading and mathematics. It doesn’t evaluate science, technology, history, biology, physics, social studies, civics, or even a skill as basic as writing. We are testing students from kindergarten through twelfth grade (yes, some 12th graders are being evaluated regular on their ability to read).

You know the educational reformers, like Wardynski, used to claim that their reforms would make our schools the envy of the world. I wonder how many other nations in the world are envious of twelfth graders who can read? Race to the Bottom would be far more appropriate and honest, don’t you think?

But wait, it gets far, far worse.

“Phenomenal” Growth Explained

Remember that growth that was too good to be true. Well, once you realize that these students are practicing this test every week, it becomes a bit easier to understand.

But even growth at that level isn’t sufficient to gain Wardynski’s praise. It has to be higher. And so, we add to this mixture “incentives” for teachers to increase their growth. At Westlawn alone, as a part of the “turnaround,” teachers are receiving financial incentives to improve their students’ grades. So far the district has distributed $80,000.00 of a budgeted $355,392.00 to incentivize teachers to help their students grow.

Westlawn has 43 “teaching staff.” If half of them have received an incentive to improve test scores, we’re taking about a $4,000 bonus for half a year’s work with an additional $275,392 remaining to be spent during the second half of the year.

Imagine how much of an incentive it would be to someone making $36,144 a year to be offered a $4,000 bonus. That’s an 11% raise. And that’s assuming that half of the teachers are receiving this bonus. There’s no way the number is that high.

Incentivizing Growth

But wait again, there’s still more.

In addition to being “incentivized,” some teachers at some schools are being allowed (or are breaking the rules and doing it anyway) to give the actual STAR test to their students multiple times. When a student takes the test multiple times, even if the test is randomized, they’re going to show growth.

This is the environment that Wardynski has instituted in our district. It’s an environment where school is pitted against school. (You’re only “successful” if your scores are higher than other schools.) It’s an environment where teacher is pitted against teacher. (You’re only successful if you’re better than your peers. That’s why some teachers names appear on the STAR data report while most don’t. Only the best are worth acknowledging.)

It’s an environment where teachers have a significant financial incentive to produce “growth” as measured by a flawed tool. It’s an environment where teachers jobs are being threatened if they don’t produce “phenomenal” growth. It’s an environment where a tool that was designed to evaluate students is instead being used as the primary evaluation tool for teachers. (Can some of our world famous engineers please explain to Wardynski–who likes to claim that he is one–the fallacy of using a tool designed to evaluate students being used to evaluate teachers?)

Testing To Death

This will result in the death of education in our district.

  1. Education is only concerned with passing the test in Huntsville City Schools. We test constantly leaving no time for anything else. Forget about art, music, or dance, there isn’t time for social studies, history, or science. That’s right, Rocket City doesn’t have time for science anymore.
  2. Testing isn’t focused on evaluating students anymore but rather teachers.
  3. Teachers are being placed in a position where cheating to improve test scores will be seen as a necessary survival tool. And we know from our neighbors in Atlanta just how that will turn out.

The district knows that these are issues, but they continue to head down a path towards destruction simply because our “Strong Leader” wishes it. No one is willing to stand up to him and tell him that his policies are killing our schools.


So what can we do?

  1. It’s time to organize and boycott the test. The STAR test, no matter how wonderfully your child is doing, is not being used to evaluate your child. It’s being used to evaluate your child’s teacher. In other words, your child is being used as a tool to abuse the very people who are trying to help them. It’s time to say that you opt-out of this abusive system.
  2. It’s time that teachers, like their brothers and sisters in Seattle, Chicago, and New York band together and opt out as well.
  3. It’s far past time for organizations that claim to support teachers like the Huntsville Education Association and the Alabama Education Association to quit making it easy for Dr. Wardynski to use our children to abuse our teachers. Twice last Thursday, Dr. Wardynski praised Rex Cheatham, HEA Uniserve Director, and Shirley Wellington, President of HEA, for their cooperation and support as they move the district toward a model that bases evaluations of teachers on student test scores. Who exactly are AEA and HEA working for here?

We can still save our schools, but we have to work together. Parents have to realize that having a child score on a 10th grade reading level and an 9th grade math level in the 4th grade doesn’t mean anything at all except that your child can take a standardized test. It doesn’t mean that they’re 5 or 6 grade levels ahead.

You’re being lied to. What it means is that the district is not teaching them science, history, social studies, art, music or even writing.

We can still save our schools if teachers realize that they do have power to fight this abuse.

We can still save our schools if organizations designed to stand for teachers actually begin doing so.

We can still save our schools if we care more about education than we do turning a profit for business and industry, which is all that Wardynski and the Board of Education are concerned about.

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. This is an excellent article!!! You explained it very well. I remember how disgusted I was when I found out that basically our kids are taking the STAR test until they get it right. That’s utterly useless, and it doesn’t show good data, A correlating experience I’ve had is that my 2nd grade son is a very good reader, but he doesn’t test well on reading comprehension. We finally figured out that their emphasis on speed reading meant he was racing through every paragraph to get his words in under 60 seconds, but he couldn’t remember what he read. Of course not!! We’re now having to work to undo what the school has taught him. I’m sure if he takes the test enough times, he’ll get it right eventually. It’s very sad and frustrating that kids in Huntsville, who have some of the smartest parents in the world, are being treated like this. I find it even sadder that they have basically extinguished the idea of learning for the sake of learning, to see where we can go. What happened to the awesome school system we had 20 years ago??

  2. I am a HCS teacher.You are correct in stating “the Rocket City doesn’t have time for Science anymore”. The Science teachers in my school no longer teach Science, they teach Math. The Social Studies teachers teach Reading. Since the “Westlawn” board meeting, the pressure is on to compete with them and show the growth rate on “Star” that they have. Yet, there have been no offers of extended pay for the extra hours being demanded of us. No encentives, frankly not even a “thank you” for going the extra mile. Simply more demands, more meetings, more time taken away from your personal time and more guilt. Some children in my church attend Westlawn and they are always talking about all of the rewards they get for doing good work, for improvement on any little assignment. They talk about getting to take the test “over and over.” My students don’t get to take it “over and over.” They take it once in the cycle and live with the score. They don’t get rewards, unless I purchase them with my personal money. I don’t get rewards or encentives, only unpaid overtime.

  3. Very well written. The newspapers should be covering this as well. Hunts ill is fortunate to have someone like you looking under the hood.

  4. If you really want to help teachers gain back some power to change what is happening in our schools across Alabama, call or right your legislators to stop this flexibility bill. This will give local superintendents and school boards the power to take most of the rights and benefits away from teachers. I keep hearing young teachers who are excellent teachers talking about finding a different job, not in teaching where their talents lie, but anywhere. This is sad. Many, many veteran teachers have retired because they are no longer trusted to make decisions that are best for their students. Folks remember education does not produce a product. We work extremely hard to help our student grow into healthy, happy, well-adjusted, educated, productive citizens that will take the responsibility to keep this world a wonderful, safe, happy place for all people, not just those who can pass a bunch of tests. In all my years of teaching I have never seen so much robotic teaching and so little of the “art” of teaching kids as unique individuals, each with something to add to the lives of those around them. Let’s work together to make education something kids want to do instead of something to endure.

  5. Oh Russell I agree with you on this one. The STAR test is totally bogus. When my then 2nd graders came home with STAR scores in reading and math on a 5th and 6th grade level, I said so what, big deal. You can take a test. Yeah the kids were all excited about it but it proves nothing. I taught them how to read and do basic math in pre-school and kindergarten. So no wonder they were doing well on a standard test, especially if you are being drilled for it as well.

    I taught them more then than they are learning now. As it is, every night I have to come home and teach them concepts they should be learning in class but aren’t. They know nothing of anything other than reading, english and math, and they barely know those subjects.

    In 4th grade alone, especially one class, there is little to no science being taught, only reading, English, and Math. That’s it. The only “social studies” they are getting is filling out a 10 question sheet on geography that they do not discuss at all in class. They just come home with the sheet and google the answers, which I check. I had to teach them how to read a map NOT just google the answers. HOW DOES GOOGLING ANSWERS TEACH GEOGRAPHY??? When they turn this in, it is not discussed in class at all. That is the extent of their “geography lesson” and a grade for social studies. What?? No history? No talking about the places they discovered when they fill out the sheet? NOPE. Just fill it out, turn it in get a grade. NO TEACHING AT ALL.

    ALSO, They are not getting tests and homework back with grades and marks on them so they can see what they missed. They are NOT discussing their mistakes in order to learn from those mistakes. A test is supposed to show what you understand and what you don’t. Then you get to study those mistakes and LEARN from them. BUT that is NOT doing that either. They are simply filling out sheets, turning them in and getting grades, then moving on. How can you call that teaching?? What are you teaching?? How to fill out a sheet and turn it in?

    I am so fed up I am seriously considering homeschooling at this point . My kids are learning nothing and it’s a shame.

    1. Students at the upper end of the bubble are being left behind to fend on their own. All of the focus and time is on the students on the lower end bubble.

      Despite W’s assurances that we’re pushing for “growth” from everyone, this simply isn’t true. The requirements placed on kids on the lower end are FAR greater than the requirement on those at the other end.

      We’re teaching to the bottom.

      1. Thank you for pointing this out. Constant high stakes testing/NCLB is leaving our brightest and best behind. Not only are teachers and students losing valuable instruction time, but resources are spent on obsessing over data instead of appropriate/individualized instruction. Kids who can pass a test before the material is taught are tested often, too. Our local board says they can only pay for one hour a week of specialized gifted education (vs. what amounts to probably a school day/week being assessed), yet they discuss purchasing a new data dashboard. I told my boy he would have to wait until 4th or 5th grade to study science in school since its not tested until then.

  6. At my school the social studies teachers and the electives teachers are also held accountable for the star reading scores, and the science teachers are held accountable for the star math scores. The entire faculty is yelled at if 95% of the student body doesn’t take the test. There is probably more than 5% of the student body who are “no-shows” and more than that absent on any given day, so that 95% goal is probably impossible to achieve. Yet we all are told that we failed on that account, even though we aren’t the ones who administered the test. That does wonders for teacher morale, I tell ya.

    Also, at my school, we have seen the scores drop consistently over the three tests this year. The students know the test doesn’t affect them or their chance to graduate, so they don’t try. They also know that if they do wrong answers on the harder questions, the test will go back to giving them easier questions, and heck, if the test doesn’t affect their grades, why do hard questions? We have had students drop as many as 4 or 5 grade levels on these tests in a matter of 3 months! We know they haven’t forgotten how to read in that time!

    So, at least at my school, until the score they get on the star test actually shows up on their class grade, they won’t take it seriously and the test data won’t accurately reflect what they can or can’t do.

    1. The scores will always and only show what Wardynski wants them to show. If the show high performance he’ll change the standard to growth.

      He has total control over this test and the “results” it shows.

  7. I’m generally too busy to comment, but I always read.

    This has been a subject close to my heart since I left teaching for graduate school. It was the focus of extensive research I conducted in with a colleague about six years ago…http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13540602.2011.539802…skip ahead to the end…

    I can only imagine what the results would be like if we replicated that survey now. I can only imagine because there is no way the administration of that particular school district would let me replicate it…if the results came out they would be impossible to spin.

    Conservative or liberal, moderate, or radical, parent or citizen…we should all be outraged by how much time and money is being wasted, WASTED, on this “reform.”

    There is no time here for science, despite the fact that many children learn math through science…There is no time for history (and that is a good thing for people who don’t want children to think too much..) despite the fact that many students learn to read through reading history.

    I will ignore the science supporting recess and free play because I’m sick of citing it.

    That’s it…I have a three year old who wants to play…

    1. Thanks, Philip. Don’t forget, these same tests are coming to a preschool near you soon.

      Have fun playing. I’m heading out to do the same.

  8. Also, do you think it is an accident that Wardynski mixed up the Calendar Bill and the School Flexibility Bill? It would be advantageous to him and his board buddies for busy parents, simply wanting fall break and a longer winter break restored, to have parents call in support of the School Flexibility bill. Knowing they are both sponsored by Holtzclaw and have the words school and flexible in them, I am surprised and pleased that Holtzclaw stepped in to clarify.

  9. In order for parents to organize they need leadership. Normally this would and should be the elected Board member. Parents don’t know what the heck is going on, because they aren’t informed. They don’t read blogs like this but they watch the news and read the newspapers and are told everything is fine. He/she who controls the message controls the outcome. As for HEA and AEA they need a dues boycott.

    1. I agree, RedEye, a boycott of HEA would be a good thing. I stopped paying dues 15 years ago, and as long as I teach in HCS I will never pay them again. HEA is worthless. I am one of the so-called “shining star” teachers in a struggling middle school and I stress everyday about the lack of education our students are receiving. I also have nightmares about losing my job if I do what I know is right in my classroom. Teachers are afraid to speak up because, after all, we are the “feed stock.”

  10. When I started in education 15 years ago we determined a child’s academic ability using a wide variety of assessments to include teacher observation. We took into account each child’s learning style and accommodated accordingly. This STAR test isn’t a terrible assessment when used with a variety of other assessment measures to determine what additional instructional needs a child has. The issue with Wardynski is that he has not only implemented STAR as the major driving assessment tool in HCS, but he has turned a student assessment tool into a means of determining an educator’s worth. We no longer teach children academics, we teach them how to be good test takers. This IS NOT preparing them for the future! Classroom teachers whose students do not perform at his required level are now subject to pop in visits from administrative teams to determine what we are doing wrong. We as educators need to embrace their “expertise” and say WELCOME! But don’t let them come in and sit, pair them with those students they consider “low achievers” and see if they can do any better. This mass testing is not the answer!

  11. You are absolutely right that the STAR test means nothing. Last year my 7 year old second grader came home with STAR results that said she was reading at grade level 12.9+. When I requested a meeting with the reading coach and the principal regarding this ridiculous score, they couldn’t understand why I would question it and not just be happy that she did well. (I don’t believe anyone had ever questioned them about the true meaning of these scores.) They assured me that this was a very reliable test and I should be proud of her achievement. I then told them that if the test was so reliable and she really did score at that level, then they needed to provide her with a more challenging program than the 2nd grade reading text. They immediately backtracked and told me that no, she really did not read at that level (which is obvious) and that it was just an indication of her ability to take a test. They let me know very quickly that even if she scored above grade level, they had no obligation whatsoever to provide her with enrichment. That was my responsibility. I asked them if they were planning to test her again, since she had met her goal for the year, and they told me that yes, they had to test her every quarter no matter what. Of course when she took the test 3 months later, she had dropped 3 grade levels in reading. Really? She lost 3 YEARS of ability in only 3 months? But according to the test she was at a 9th grade level so they continued to give her a 2nd grade reading book and all but told me to shut up about it. I know of other kids at the school who are extremely bright but get nervous taking the tests and their true ability never shows up. How the administration can keep a straight face while telling parents about this wonderful test is beyond me.

    1. Amen, Scott! My brother and I both graduated from prestigious universities (with lots of debt) to teach in public schools (including in TX), and we have both left, largely because of this perversion and its ramificatons.It is no coincidence that the legislators and business leaders involved have no training or background in education, and military industrial complex is a perfect metaphor for their true interests.

  12. You are right about the testing being used to evaluate teachers. My class STAR tests scores were horrible and now I am going under a microscope. I am scared that I will lose my job based on how a group of students performed on a single test.

  13. It is getting more frustrating by the day as I read the posts of parents and teachers expressing their frustrations and anger on this blog. By the way, bless all of you teachers for the job you do!). But isn’t enough getting to be enough?? Should we flood the school Board meetings and demand to be heard? I like the suggestion of getting the Huntsville Times involved…perhaps a weekly segment that provides some of the very well written and informative blogs found here? I am sick and tired of a superintendent that continues his quest to bolster his legacy as an “educator and engineer” when in fact, he is a despised bully causing unrest and job insecurity on the very workforce he should be protecting and praising. And we just extended his contract????

  14. @Frustrated, you think you can rally the troops. You can start by blasting your BOE and then packing the School Board meetings. Then they will become Frustrated when you drown their praise and plans out.

  15. Smiley…..been there done that. The small venue of the Board meetings doesn’t lend itself to large crowds. Also, not sure just how many voices they would allow to be heard. They come across as an arrogant, obnoxious group of individuals, highlighted of course, by their “engineer/educator” who sits in the middle. And now this idea of the “Flexibility” bill being passed that would give the BOE even more control, sends shivers up my spine! No, what we really need is for the media to jump in on this. I would like to see perhaps a weekly column in the Huntsville Times, exclusively devoted to school issues, teacher concerns, parent concerns, and what’s happening at the BOE.

  16. In all fairness to Wardynski, this crap all started with No Child Left Behind, one of the greatest bipartisan screwups of all time. What Wardynski is doing is just NCLB on crack.

    It is amazing to me just how little kids actually learn these days. I am blessed with a couple of straight-A students in my house, one in 8th grade, one in 5th. They are now learning their geography at home because the schools didn’t teach it to them. My 8th-grader knew his states because he just likes maps, but he didn’t know the state capitals, major rivers, etc. My 5th-grader didn’t even know her states. Both kids were amazed when their parents were able to still name all the states and their capitals from memory… because we were TAUGHT them and LEARNED them.

    My kids come home with progress reports showing “100s” on various skills. But when I ask them to tell me about what they learned, they can’t recall the material. Shove the info in, take a test, check the box, move on. If the kids didn’t really learn it, so what. That’s our education system now.

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