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Discussion: A system within a system: How has the pedagogical stance of your LSC been influenced by your state/local context?

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posted by: Joni Falk on November 15, 2000 at 9:29PM
subject: The effects of high stakes tests
I know that you have all been consumed with either the Florida results of
the election, or with your annual report, or perhaps both. But, now that you
have submitted the report, I thought it worth a try to revive our
I noticed an article in the Globe today that reminded me of Jerry s post.
The article begins "As the hand-wringing continues over the latest
unimpressive English and Math scores on the MCAS exam, some Bay State
history and science teachers are beginning to ask: Is anyone paying
attention to us?" In MA students are tested in grades 4,8, and 10 in
English, Math and Science. Beginning next year, passing scores on Math and
English will be required for graduation. The article continues that "schools
large and small in urban centers and small towns are adjusting class
schedules, establishing summer-school programs to give students more
instruction in English and math at the expens of history and science
education." So it seems that instruction is not only driven by what is
tested, but by how much the test counts. It is interesting that until this
year (when the reality set in that only English and Math tests were going to
count for graduation for next year s 10th graders) the science MCAS had
schools scrambling to readjust curriculum to the test. Now the focus is
shifting towards the "subjects that count" and science is becoming less of a
It might turn out that "high accountability" will not improve instruction
and will instead undo a lot of the recent gains made in science education
reform. How do we keep Science education in the fore while schools struggle
with high stakes exams?

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