Thursday, March 18, 2004

Forget the SATs, first you have to pass third grade

Anyone who's ever uttered the words "My child doesn't test well" has to be a little taken aback by stories on the new policy in New York City by which third-graders who fail on standardized tests will be forced to repeat the year. I've seen how crazed teachers and administrators at my kids' schools get when it's standardized test time, and the stakes aren't anywhere near that high. One test to determine whether you move on or get held back seems like an awful lot of pressure to put on young shoulders -- not to mention the older shoulders of the teachers responsible for shepherding them through it. To some degree, it's not the kids who are failing these tests but the schools. Talk about a tough performance review.

The state of NYC schools, with kids getting held back in large numbers in high school, certainly indicates that something needs to be done. And it apparently falls on third graders to bear the burden of improving the educational system. Mayor Bloomberg feels their pain, and offers this advice: Suck it up. In an interview quoted in the Miami Herald, he states: "Yes, they may cry a little bit. But children in the third grade cry a lot, and it's part of the growing-up process." Lucky for him they're still too young to vote.

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