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March 29, 2012 / philosophermouseofthehedge

So not kid-ing.

They’re smart, kids. The first to catch on. The innovators unencumbered by fears and set concepts.

“Let the little children lead you?”

Good idea or not?

Apparently stress and pressure to succeed is really the mother of invention.

College entrance exam companies had to put on their thinking caps because high school kids found a way to bubble in success on those scantron sheets: hire someone else to take those tests.

Testing bubble sheet (image from Italian/American Digital Project)

The test companies given up trying to remind students that:

  • The “honor system” is important
  • Or “you are only hurting yourself”
  • Or that old “honesty is the best policy”

So, ACT and SAT testing companies will now require a photo to be used to confirm a test taker’s ID on the day of the exam.

HA! Problem solved!  No worries about hired “pencils” or inattentive monitors.

Photo ID. No big deal. Most schools have student photo IDs. Even Target requests a photo ID even to use credit cards during Christmas shopping season. (Kids are the experts on shopping!)

So now everyone is sure who everyone is.

No temptation to cheat and pretend to be someone you are not.

(Except, well, maybe at a bar when you don’t want that really annoying person to really know your actual name…..That’s self preservation.)

It’s not like pretending to be someone else in an “official” situation.

Like, say, voting in an election.

 (I hear you snorting. I’m right here.)

“Why would someone want to vote under someone else’s name?”

I don’t know, but I certainly would like to ask the person who voted multiple times using my name.

More disturbing: on one election day, there were 3 other people behind me having the same exact problem: someone voted using their names. So do not tell me voter ID fraud does not happen.

If establishing positive ID is important enough for SAT and ACT tests,

Then it’s certainly important enough for voting in elections.

Follow the trendsetters: kids.

Who dares to tell the Emperor? (Scholastic image from

 Kids see things with clear eyes.

Like in that story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

Only a kid had the guts to say, “Hey, he’s got nothing on!”

Hold that thought.

It’s the “testing season” in Texas schools.

And there’s more state tests than ever now.

Different grades and subjects are tested on different days across the state.

Tuesday, all the 9th graders took the new state English exam.

Orlando Riddick, Houston ISD official, commented to one reporter, “As you increase testing, you get crunched for instructional time.”

What did the other students do?

  • Class schedules are disrupted. Students may have to meet in different classrooms.
  • Sometimes there’s study halls, optional study sessions – or movies.
  • Other schools have students taking “practice tests” on their non-test days.
  • In some Texas districts, the kids not being tested got to sleep late: school for them started at 12:30.
  • One student says that not much went on in the afternoon after the tests.
  • Graduating seniors in various districts may have late arrival times for 5 to 10 days.
  • Some have suggested seniors should be taken to visit local colleges during their non-testing times. (Although that will cost and most seniors have already applied to college before the designated test periods in the spring.)

One Houston ISD high school (image: Mellon/WIKI)

Some educators defend the late start schedules.

“It’s easier for the school not to have everyone there,” said on parent group president.

Debbie Ratclif, TEA spokeswoman, commented on late arrival schedules: ” That way they don’t have kids there doing nothing or being disruptive while they need it quiet for the ones taking it “.

She also continued saying sometimes schools need extra teachers to help test administrators and to monitor test taking.

OK, let me get this straight.

  • Kids there doing nothing? (Didn’t that guy mention losing instructional time?)
  • Schools don’t want the non-testing kids to come because they might be loud and disturb other kids….but they are OK with them all being there during normal school days – when everyone is supposed to concentrating and learning new material?
  • Guess normally kids all sit quietly on their best behavior learning every second – except on test days when they go totally berserk?

Kids themselves have made some interesting observations about test days.

  • One student liked getting caught up on sleep, homework, and watching TV at home.
  • Another agreeded the time was great for sleeping, finishing projects, working on club activities, and meeting friends for lunch.
  • Others just plan on skipping the entire day.
  • “I feel like I’m learning sometimes and sometimes I feel it’s just a waste of time,” said one girl
  • “It’s nice for me, but it’s definitely a huge waste of time,” said a boy.

“Out of the mouths of babes.”

 Oh, that’s silly. Why would anyone listen to them? They’re just kids.

(Although they do say the darndest things sometimes!)

Who’s kidding whom?

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

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  1. Cat Forsley / Mar 29 2012 12:19 am

    LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. writingfeemail / Mar 29 2012 12:21 am

    I still get stressed thinking about the SAT. Yikes!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 12:46 am

      Remembering those stomach cramps very clearly! (Shiver) Thanks for testing the waters here


  3. Jeannie / Mar 29 2012 1:21 am

    pmh…I want to see some ID. How I do I know you are REALLY you?? Never mind. I see the writing on the wall 😉 This is so you…you’re off the hook! {Good one!}


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 1:28 am

      The German suggested we send ID nose print through the computer screen.(she’s already placed her’s here) Thanks for voting to read today’s post!


  4. rumpydog / Mar 29 2012 1:33 am

    So how is it that we humans manage to take something good and turn it into a red-tape mess!


  5. kewsmith / Mar 29 2012 1:43 am

    Sadly, I was so glad when my children were out of high school. The whole testing situation is frustrating. I can’t imagine how the teachers deal with the constant changes and stress, stress, stress.


  6. / Mar 29 2012 2:37 am

    Here’s an idea; test each grade in the school at the same time on the same day. Then no one class will be wasting a day and they can all get back to their regular schedule sooner. Need extra help? Have a few parents stand in as monitors to help out the teachers or maybe call in a few subs to help out. I’m not so sure those tests really show what a kid has learned anyway; some kids just freeze up when they hear the word “test”.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 4:09 am

      You sound so sensible! Here only certified teachers can monitor standardized testing – but seriously, there are enough people in the buildings to cover all classrooms (realistically, someone was desperate for an excuse…). Multiple choice tests show nothing about what a student knows. Glad you stopped in to chat. THanks


  7. PiedType / Mar 29 2012 4:55 am

    Voter fraud and “teaching to the test” confirmed! And in the same post! You’ve outdone yourself. And that’s increasingly difficult to do …


  8. jannatwrites / Mar 29 2012 5:17 am

    The photo ID would solve everything. Of course the kids wouldn’t make fake IDs or anything like that. Sheesh, if they put their efforts into something positive, like studying…oh, never mind…I’m just being foolish now.

    The standardized tests are a bit of a joke. Where I live, the teachers spend several weeks teaching to the test. I’m a person who doesn’t do well on tests, so I’m not going to discuss my deplorable ACT score. Luckily, the community college took me.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 1:49 pm

      Oh, the kids don’t waste their time making ID around here – they just go to the big flea markets and buy one – you can get anything there! (UH has just revealed a big scandal about voter fraud in their own university elections.) Kids are just so creative!
      Many people do not score well on multiple choice tests (actually brighter people tend to score worse). Multiple choice tests are especially unreliable in children as their answers are only a small snapshot of their abilities – and if they are having a bad day, it’s all over. Hang in there.


  9. MJ, Nonstepmom / Mar 29 2012 1:08 pm

    I dont even know where to start…..This makes my brain hurt !


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 2:10 pm

      If it’s not one thing, it’s another?
      I forgot to list this 2010 article of massive voter fraud in Harris County: of 25,000 voter registrations, only 1,793 were valid and true. (And politics is even meaner now.)
      I wish the TEA would back off the testing – it’s gotten out of hand. Progress monitoring is great, but good teachers always did that in the classroom – they knew those big national standardized tests would reflect what was going on in the classroom (and compare scores to other schools in the country). Teachers also knew standardized testing was only a small snapshot of what was going on with each student….Oh, but that was all before scripted lessons delivered by teachers, students of all ages chanted parrot-like, and multiple choice being the test of choice in all classrooms.
      Sorry your brain hurts…mine has just joined yours! Thanks for punishing yourself and stopping by! 🙂


  10. Ally Bean / Mar 29 2012 2:35 pm

    What a mess. When– and why– did testing become such a huge obstacle to learning? This TX story repeats itself everywhere across the country. It kind of boggles my mind– guess I didn’t learn enough in school to know how to fix the problem… if we could even agree on a definition of what the problem is.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 2:50 pm

      Some researchers became enamored with data and convinced educators things would improve with extensive analysis of the learning/educational process. Data is provides info, but it has to be acted upon appropriately – and numerical data will never give a complete picture…these are living organisms not machines. Yes, No Child Left Behind opened the door – and “Research” Universities and Institutions (with people who have never been in the classroom themselves), educational publishers, testing companies (and their hired gun researchers) shoved in…Dept of ED. is not innocent in this either (strong lobbyist influence). OK. I will sit down and be quiet, but the educational systems really concern me.
      Anyway, glad you stopped by to add your thoughts


      • Ally Bean / Mar 29 2012 4:17 pm

        Excellent summation of what happened. The line: “with people who have never been in the classroom themselves” strikes me as key to all of this. A bit more hands on experience– and a bit less theoretical underpinnings– might improve things in the world of education, eh?


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 4:26 pm

          Thank you. Thank you. So glad you pointed that out. (It’s like people used to say, “He/she talks a good ride” meaning he’s read all the books about horses and riding – but has never been on a real horse.) Thanks again for that observation.


      • Paprika Furstenburg / Mar 30 2012 1:11 am

        You are both so right about this. There are far too many people involved in the decision making process who haven’t set foot in a school since they graduated, let alone spent any time actually teaching.

        A student’s individual progress should be measured in more ways than just a single test on a single day – or as is the case now, one really long test stretched out over many days.


  11. roughseasinthemed / Mar 29 2012 2:41 pm

    I have lost the plot. Don’t teachers know who is in their class? (dinosaur brain slowing down here)

    And – anyone stealing my voter ID in our quaint little barrio would be getting serious grief. Although as we got some 80% plus turn out last time I guess everyone uses their own!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 29 2012 2:59 pm

      Unfortunately because of the violence in society and schools, most students wear a laminated school issued photo ID around their neck during school. Some actually have computer chips which record a kid’s presence on a bus or in a classroom ( so they know where everyone is – just for the record). Also the ID’s identify them as students and not intruders out to do harm or cause trouble – and there’s a lot of those incidents. (How sad is all this?)
      The ACT and SAT college board testing companies have been getting slammed with kids hiring smart kids to take those exams for them…so they now require positive ID on the day of the test.
      One of the nice things about Gib is that it is small and people know each other – (voter ID fraud would be difficult). Gib is a real community! Very nice


  12. Kourtney Heintz / Mar 29 2012 11:29 pm

    There are many countries where passing a test literally decides the course of your entire life. If you are allowed to apply to university or must pursue a trade or simply sent out to work as an “unskilled laborer.” The world is a scary imperfect place.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 30 2012 1:17 am

      And the pressure for those tests are very intense from what I have been told by friends – as a test does determine your fate. Their education system, parent support/expectations, and society structure exists around those exams.
      Testing does not have to be scary. There is a place/need in educational system for progress monitoring and standardized testing to gauge student achievement. (Adding to the confusion here is a method of determining a student’s score/grade not by questions answered correctly, but by a formula that supposedly predicts future success in future courses. Test companies themselves say this is problematic).
      We can do better.
      Glad you brought up the foreign exams – kept waiting for that. Thanks!


  13. The Hook / Mar 29 2012 11:52 pm

    Now I see what I have to look forward to as the dad of 13-year-old! Yikes!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 30 2012 1:20 am

      Testing isn’t scary (just keep up with the assigned reading and homework). Teenagers? What an adventure!(just forget sleep). Glad you dropped in!


  14. shoreacres / Mar 30 2012 12:23 am

    Here I come, creaking in… We had the Iowa Test of Educational Development. Of course I was in Iowa, but still…

    I loved the tests. We all did. We were eager to see how well we could do, how we improved. And after the tests results were back, ALL of the parents went to school one evening to have an INDIVIDUAL conference with student and teacher, to talk about the results for a half-hour or so.
    And there always were cookies….

    I am 173 years old.

    As for photo IDs – you have to have a photo ID to get your darts in any Houston bar. But that’s important….


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 30 2012 1:25 am

      Didn’t everyone take Iowa tests in certain grades and the Stanford in different grades? It was serious, but no one threw-up over it. Many teachers still meet with parents to go over test scores, but not sure about the cookies, though. Now the ACT and SAT – those were enough to make you nervous. Thanks for testing the waters here.


  15. Jim Cantwell / Mar 30 2012 2:57 am

    when I took the SAT it was on Saturdays and only kids testing would go why would the non testing kids show up on saturday.
    Its like anything else kids today feel things are owed to them instead of earning them and what they cant have given to them they buy.
    Great post


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Mar 30 2012 2:26 pm

      You are right: on SAT and ACT testing days (college entrance exams) only the kids that have to be there are awake and there.
      But the Texas state tests are given in the mornings during the regular school days – kids are normally in school at that time…unless some are told by teachers to stay home sick on certain days (in an attempt to keep school’s averages up). That did happen as well as schools trying to transfer out low performing students right before the state exams. TEA took a dim view of those actions.
      What to do with the graduating seniors has always been a problem since they have completed their state testing exams – except for subject course finals…maybe they could learn info or study for those?
      Seriously a lot of kids work very hard and are quite serious about their education – they deserve the best opportunities that can be provided – including not being treated in a stupid fashion in order to collect multiple choice data that can be published in an attempt to tell the public/parents the schools are doing a good job….even if it cuts into instructional time. Instruction – once the real function of schools.
      Thanks for adding your thoughts and for stopping by


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