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Saskatchewan Standardized Testing Plan Scrapped Leader Post

Over this past year the standardized testing debate has been at the forefront of discussions about education. Over the last few months, the implementation of standardized testing had been put on hold. During this time, school boards, professors, educators, students, and parents expressed their general unhappiness with this movement. Don Morgan, our minister of education, stated that “”we know that kind of large-scale testing regime wouldn’t work for teachers… I don’t think it benefits the students and I don’t think it benefits the province.”” I could not agree more!

My biggest concern was that they were going to put standardized testing on hold until educators calmed down. However, Don Morgan notes that “”it wasn’t put on pause so we could turn around and go ahead with it three months later after things had cooled off.”” I am very pleased and inspired that the government listened to the voices of educators, students, and parents. It is inspiring that teachers stood up for something they believed in and were able to determine the future of education in Saskatchewan. As someone on the anti-standardized testing side of the line, I could not be happier. This was the best news I received all day! If I have learned anything from my third year classes, and ECS 410 in particular, it is that students all learn in different ways and need to express their knowledge in different ways. Testing is not the answer for many of our learners. Paul Tough’s work in “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character” talks about how “character is at least as important as intellect.” Research shows that students’ GPA scores have a lot more to do with their self-discipline than their IQs. This is problematic for our at-risk learners. Thus, in a sense, standardized tests only disadvantage our at-risk learners even more and they do more to test behavior than actual intelligence. I also feel like there is a disconnect between standardized testing and our curriculum outcomes, broad areas of learning, and general goals.

Instead of standardized testing we will focus on a sector plan. This plan focuses on reading and First Nations/Metis education. “The target is to have at least 78 per cent of Grade 3 students reading at or above grade level by 2015” and I think this is a challenging, but important goal. Written literacy and numeracy are also important areas to focus on; areas that should be addressed in all classes, just like reading. This takes a lot of pressure off our ELA and math teachers. It makes sense to have reading and writing instruction in all classes, as writing and reading are a muscle that requires as much or more practice as nailing the perfect three pointer in basketball. Dan Florizone, Deputy Minister, stated that our focus needs to be on “curriculum… instruction, assessment, professional development” and teacher training, rather than only assessment or testing. By 2020 the goal is to have “85 per cent graduation rate (10 per cent higher than the current rate), 90-per-cent of kindergarten students scoring age-appropriate marks and 80 per cent of all students performing at grade level in reading, writing and math.” This news makes me extremely excited to be a future educator in Saskatchewan. It is news like this that makes me believe that change can happen for the better!

Here’s to working our butts off in the next bit to create a more inclusive school culture and a group of literate students! 🙂

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“We shouldn’t be putting them asleep, we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves!”

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

This link looks at the history and organization of our schools. Also, it focuses on medicating students with ADHD, standardized testing and divergent. Adapted from Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Paradigms”

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CES 2013

Established in 1954, Camp Easter Seal has been situated in one of the most picturesque locations in Saskatchewan since 1956. Located at Manitou Beach near Watrous, it is surrounded by lush wooded slopes and the beautiful Manitou Lake.

Camp Easter Seal offers 10 different camp sessions from June – August for adults with intellectual disabilities, children with diabetes, and children and adults (ages 6+) with physical disabilities including those with Level 4 care requirements.

Camp Easter Seal offers swimming and boating, horseback riding, adapted sports activities, cook-outs and picnics, arts and crafts, rustic camping and overnight tenting, banquets and socials and much more.

I could not be more lucky to get to “work” here. A job for all educators to consider!

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CES 2012

Camp Easter Seal is proud to be the only wheelchair accessible camping facility of its kind in the province of Saskatchewan.  Camp Easter seal is able to offer similar activities as any camp in the province including:  swimming, boating, horseback riding, a therapeutic garden, special events days, arts and crafts, rustic camping, cook-outs, picnics, dancing, campfires and singsongs.

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Camp Easter Seal – Saskatchewan

As Saskatchewan’s only 100% accessible camp, Camp Easter Seal annually hosts more than 700 campers with physical and intellectual disabilities at Manitou Beach. With an on site medical staff and special diets team, CES is prepared to meet the complex medical requirements of their campers. Campers and counselors stay in modern cabins and participate in a variety of activities developed to target their specific interests and abilities. Campers make new friends, develop independence and build confidence in their abilities while creating lifelong memories. I have been blessed to be part of this magic since 2011. I have never worked so hard to make someone else smile or adapt an activity so everyone has the opportunity to experience it. I have grown as a person and I know that if anything is possible at camp, then anything is possible within our schools and classrooms. My favorite part about the job is the people-first language, the wonderful people I get to work alongside and support and how the ability shines through here! The happiest place in the world is not Disneyland – it’s Camp Easter Seal and it CAN be our classrooms, too.

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“Who can teach when there are such lessons to be learned” – Taylor Mali

Teachable moments happen everyday. As teacher, the demands of the curriculum, the bell schedule, the fact that you have 25+ busy bodies to “micromanage” may get in the way of taking those moments and using them to learn.. but I have goal that this can be done. If only, we let go of perfection.

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5 Myths About Our Schools That Fall Apart When You Look Closer

Alfie Kohn Speaks About Saskatchewan’s Proposed Standardized Testing Initiative

A Student Explains What’s Wrong With Our School System And Why We Mistreat Teachers. Nails It.

When an Adult Took Standardized Tests Forced on Kids

I personally believe that standardized tests are not a valid measure of learning. It is a corporate based, numbers system and kids are not numbers. Of course, if we teach to one test results will get better. But are students really learning? I believe in differentiation, student choice and freedom for students to guide their own learning. For some students that may be a test but for others it may be an oral presentation. Furthermore, I believe looking at the world around us as a class is more important than standardized test type questions that are forgotten right after the test. We can’t mold all kids to one type of assessment. We can’t all teach to one type of assessment. Sure, have a standardized tests to monitor the province as a whole but do not let it reflect back on the student and the teacher.

Taking tests is not learning or a better quality of ed. All it does is take the excitement, the crisis, the personal aspect right out of school – the very opposite of a better quality of education.