Cover image for High stakes : children, testing, and failure in American schools
Title:
High stakes : children, testing, and failure in American schools
Author:
Johnson, Dale D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
xxi, 223 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780742517882

9780742517899
Format :
Book

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LB3052.L8 J66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

High Stakes brings the voices of students and teachers to our national debates over school accountability and educational reform. Recounting the experiences of two classrooms during one academic year, the book offers a critical exploration of excessive state-mandated monitoring, high-stakes testing pressures, and inequities in public school funding that impede the instructional work of teachers, especially those who serve children of poorer families. Visit our website for sample chapters!


Summary

High Stakes Testing, Poverty, and Failure in American Schools is a critical ethnography of one year in one of the most impoverished schools in America. Redbud Elementary School in Redbud, Louisiana has 611 students, 95 percent of whom qualify for free breakfast and free lunch. Many of the children who attend Redbud are the poorest of the poor. Their homes are substandard and include trailers, shotgun houses, and housing project apartments. Some lack electricity, running water, and flooring. Most of the children, 80 percent of whom are African American, live with a single parent, an aunt, or a grandmother who hold minimum-wage jobs. Many of the children do not receive medical or dental care. Their neighborhoods teem with alcohol and drug abuse. Several pupils have witnessed shootings and other types of violence. Louisiana was the first state and is now one of eight states in the nation that mandates failure and grade repetition for elementary and middle school students who do not pass an end-of-year high stakes test. The authors taught third and fourth grade full time for one school year at Redbud Elementary, and this book tells the story of that year. Three major themes are addressed throughout the book: the grinding effects of acute poverty on all aspects of life, the negative consequences of the continuing drive for higher test scores in public schools, and the unreasonable demands placed on children, teachers, and administrators. Other issues surface in the book: the rising growth of for-profit ventures feeding off the accountability movement, the developing alliances between policymakers and corporate profiteers, and the federal government's increasing domination of public schooling. Readers may note similarities between Redbud Elementary and underfunded public schools in their own states. The story of Louisiana's Redbud typifies the unfolding national tragedy in the way poor children are being 'educated' because of self-serving political and corporate interests.


Author Notes

Dale D. Johnson is professor of literacy education at Dowling College on Long Island. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin and was a profesor there for 16 years. Dr. Johnson has been an elementary and middle school teacher in Wisconsin and Louisiana and was on the faculties of Katsina College in Nigeria and the University of Louisiana. He is a past-president of the International Reading Association. Dr. Johnson has authored and co-authored 12 books, including Vocabulary in the Elementary and Middle School (2001, Allyn and Bacon). Bonnie Johnson is professor of human development and learning at Dowling College on Long Island. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin where she was granted the "Distinguished Teacher of Teachers" award. Dr. Johnson has taught elementary school in Wisconsin and Louisiana and has been a professor at Texas A&M, the University of Louisiana, and Clarke College. She has published for children, adolescents, and adults. In addition to journal articles, she is the author of Wordworks: Exploring Language Play (1999, Fulcrum).


Dale D. Johnson is professor of literacy education at Dowling College on Long Island. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin and was a profesor there for 16 years. Dr. Johnson has been an elementary and middle school teacher in Wisconsin and Louisiana and was on the faculties of Katsina College in Nigeria and the University of Louisiana. He is a past-president of the International Reading Association. Dr. Johnson has authored and co-authored 12 books, including Vocabulary in the Elementary and Middle School (2001, Allyn and Bacon). Bonnie Johnson is professor of human development and learning at Dowling College on Long Island. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin where she was granted the "Distinguished Teacher of Teachers" award. Dr. Johnson has taught elementary school in Wisconsin and Louisiana and has been a professor at Texas A&M, the University of Louisiana, and Clarke College. She has published for children, adolescents, and adults. In addition to journal articles, she is the author of Wordworks: Exploring Language Play (1999, Fulcrum).


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

What is the effect on students and teachers of high-stakes testing and the current emphasis on accountability? To answer that question, Dale D. Johnson (Vocabulary in the Elementary & Middle School) and Bonnie Johnson (Wordworks: Exploring Language Play) offer a critical, passionate, firsthand account of the 2000-01 school year in a Redbud, LA, elementary school, where teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and 98 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch. Under Louisiana's accountability bureaucracy, the school is regulated, monitored, assessed, and labeled. The authors challenge the effectiveness of using standardized tests to make decisions in a school that lacks basic amenities and suffers from excessive student and teacher stress. They provide numerous examples, clear descriptions, and a deep appreciation for the role of teachers to illustrate the dire consequences of this emphasis on testing. The closing chapter offers recommendations for concerned professionals, policymakers, and parents. Education collections in both public and academic libraries would be strengthened by the addition of this clear, research-based discussion. Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L. Dist., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal Review

What is the effect on students and teachers of high-stakes testing and the current emphasis on accountability? To answer that question, Dale D. Johnson (Vocabulary in the Elementary & Middle School) and Bonnie Johnson (Wordworks: Exploring Language Play) offer a critical, passionate, firsthand account of the 2000-01 school year in a Redbud, LA, elementary school, where teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and 98 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch. Under Louisiana's accountability bureaucracy, the school is regulated, monitored, assessed, and labeled. The authors challenge the effectiveness of using standardized tests to make decisions in a school that lacks basic amenities and suffers from excessive student and teacher stress. They provide numerous examples, clear descriptions, and a deep appreciation for the role of teachers to illustrate the dire consequences of this emphasis on testing. The closing chapter offers recommendations for concerned professionals, policymakers, and parents. Education collections in both public and academic libraries would be strengthened by the addition of this clear, research-based discussion. Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L. Dist., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Carl A. GrantCarl A. Grant
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
1 From Ivory Tower to White Lightning Road: Launching a Teaching Careerp. 1
Background
School Accountability
College of Education Hijinks
People Who Care
The Town of Redbud
Getting Certified, Tested for Drugs, and Fingerprinted
A Reading Program Promo
2 Hayricks and Helicopters: The Realities of an Underfunded Schoolp. 15
A Tour of Redbud
Rules Teachers Must Follow
Workshops and Meetings
3 September: The Children We Teachp. 32
The Daily Routine
Heat Wave
Drawings of Rats
Benchmarks and Codes
Teaching to the Test
Working Poor
The Number One Problem Today
How Teachers Spend Sundays
Getting Students' Attention
Wasting Instructional Time
Monitoring Teachers
The Superintendent's Bonus
Grades and Motivation
Accountability Profiteers
Learning from My Pupils
Suspension
4 October: Regulating Teachingp. 59
No Money for School Pictures
"I'm Afraid of the Ku Klux Klan"
"What Are Gymnastics?"
Looking for the Quick Fix
Parent Conferences and Professional Growth Plans
Learning from the Parents
Losing Teacher Self-Esteem
Relentless Interruptions
Letters to the New Orleans Saints
Ten More Days of Training
Planning for the LEAP Test
Teacher Multitasking
Drug Awareness
Children's Thoughts on School Funding
Another "New" Program
Inequities in Salaries
5 November: Drugs, Poverty, and Test Scoresp. 78
"Dad Do All Kinds of Drug"
A Halloween without Costumes
Burgeoning Needs and Stagnant Funds
Students Ponder Politics and the Election
"When I Get Home She Drunk"
Hundreds of Objectives in 176 Days
The Uncertified Teacher
Taking Action against Testing
"Teachers Will Be Held Accountable"
No Time for Talk
Student Teachers
The Architect of School Accountability
6 December: "Clamp Down"p. 94
Out-of-Touch Officials
"Things in My Life Goes Bad"
Lesson Plan Deficiencies
Too Much Talking in the Lunchroom
The Generosity of Teachers
Teaching and Learning in a Cold Building
"God No I Do Not Wont to Ak Like This"
Homemade Cards and Small Gifts
7 January: Test Preparation--The Pace Quickensp. 102
Still No Heat
Jelani's Dad
Rhonda's Dad
"Three Computers in Every Classroom"
The Dreams of Children
Pupils' Advice to Future Teachers
"That's What Dr. King Wanted"
Practicing for High-stakes Tests
Lack of Prior Knowledge
"I Could Never Teach in This Dirty School"
The Teachers Are the Experts
Testing Tension Builds
Upset Parents
Art Is Not for Everyone
Murder on Their Minds
Why Not Teach in a Prison?
Pen Pals in Suburbia
Vouchers--A Hollow Promise
8 February: Pep Rallies for Testsp. 120
The Hidden Book
Test Every Child
Test Troubles in Texas
How Poor Schools Get Money
Professors Who Are Out of Touch
When Student Teachers Leave
"I Wish You Pray for Us on the Big LEAP Test"
The Corporate Bottom Line
9 March: Test-Day Traumasp. 136
Security Oaths for Teachers
A Threat to Redbud
The Need for Verbal Interaction
Test Week
What Is It?
More Test Security
Just Filling In the Bubbles
A $2,000 Raise
Guarding the Tests
The Test Inspectors
No Extra Pay
How Good Are Your Teachers?
The Testing Never Ends
The Missing Test
Painful Teeth and Soleless Shoes
Called to the Principal's Office
Donated Art Supplies Arrive
The Field Trip
Fail the Test, Repeat the Grade
10 April: Freedom to Teach and Learnp. 151
Closing "Unacceptable" Schools
The Financial Cost of Testing
Rich Kids, Poor Kids
Adding to the Teacher Shortage
Letters to Illinois
How Poverty Relates to Test Scores
Buy This Book
Teachers Are "Treated Like Peons"
Observations about Drinking
End-of-the-Year Paperwork
Judging the Teachers
Gun Talk
11 May: "I Don't Want to Spend My Time on Paperwork"p. 167
The Writing Contest
Leaving the Public Schools
Learning the LEAP Test Results
Comparing Test Performances
No Longer "Promoted for Seat Time"
The Teachers Feel Like Failures
When 40,000 Fail
Informing My Pupils
"Why Are All Those Kids Crying?"
Why Are Teachers Ignored?
Living in the Woods
More Forms
Who Gets the Credit?
The Final Week
Awards Day
The Children's Wishes
Sorry--No Test Results
More Tests on the Horizon
12 How Can We Build a Better Future? Recommendations for Policy Changep. 189
What Teachers Need
The Standards Movement
Voices of Opposition
The Silence of Some
Summary of Our Recommendations
Referencesp. 207
Indexp. 213
About the Authorsp. 223
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
1 From Ivory Tower to White Lightning Road: Launching a Teaching Careerp. 1
Background
School Accountability
College of Education Hijinks
People Who Care
The Town of Redbud
Getting Certified, Tested for Drugs, and Fingerprinted
A Reading Program Promo
2 Hayricks and Helicopters: The Realities of an Underfunded Schoolp. 15
A Tour of Redbud
Rules Teachers Must Follow
Workshops and Meetings
3 September: The Children We Teachp. 32
The Daily Routine
Heat Wave
Drawings of Rats
Benchmarks and Codes
Teaching to the Test
Working Poor
The Number One Problem Today
How Teachers Spend Sundays
Getting Students' Attention
Wasting Instructional Time
Monitoring Teachers
The Superintendent's Bonus
Grades and Motivation
Accountability Profiteers
Learning from My Pupils
Suspension
4 October: Regulating Teachingp. 59
No Money for School Pictures
"I'm Afraid of the Ku Klux Klan"
"What Are Gymnastics?"
Looking for the Quick Fix
Parent Conferences and Professional Growth Plans
Learning from the Parents
Losing Teacher Self-Esteem
Relentless Interruptions
Letters to the New Orleans Saints
Ten More Days of Training
Planning for the LEAP Test
Teacher Multitasking
Drug Awareness
Children's Thoughts on School Funding
Another "New" Program
Inequities in Salaries
5 November: Drugs, Poverty, and Test Scoresp. 78
"Dad Do All Kinds of Drug"
A Halloween without Costumes
Burgeoning Needs and Stagnant Funds
Students Ponder Politics and the Election
"When I Get Home She Drunk"
Hundreds of Objectives in 176 Days
The Uncertified Teacher
Taking Action against Testing
"Teachers Will Be Held Accountable"
No Time for Talk
Student Teachers
The Architect of School Accountability
6 December: "Clamp Down"p. 94
Out-of-Touch Officials
"Things in My Life Goes Bad"
Lesson Plan Deficiencies
Too Much Talking in the Lunchroom
The Generosity of Teachers
Teaching and Learning in a Cold Building
"God No I Do Not Wont to Ak Like This"
Homemade Cards and Small Gifts
7 January: Test Preparation--The Pace Quickensp. 102
Still No Heat
Jelani's Dad
Rhonda's Dad
"Three Computers in Every Classroom"
The Dreams of Children
Pupils' Advice to Future Teachers
"That's What Dr. King Wanted"
Practicing for High-stakes Tests
Lack of Prior Knowledge
"I Could Never Teach in This Dirty School"
The Teachers Are the Experts
Testing Tension Builds
Upset Parents
Art Is Not for Everyone
Murder on Their Minds
Why Not Teach in a Prison?
Pen Pals in Suburbia
Vouchers--A Hollow Promise
8 February: Pep Rallies for Testsp. 120
The Hidden Book
Test Every Child
Test Troubles in Texas
How Poor Schools Get Money
Professors Who Are Out of Touch
When Student Teachers Leave
"I Wish You Pray for Us on the Big LEAP Test"
The Corporate Bottom Line
9 March: Test-Day Traumasp. 136
Security Oaths for Teachers
A Threat to Redbud
The Need for Verbal Interaction
Test Week
What Is It?
More Test Security
Just Filling In the Bubbles
A $2,000 Raise
Guarding the Tests
The Test Inspectors
No Extra Pay
How Good Are Your Teachers?
The Testing Never Ends
The Missing Test
Painful Teeth and Soleless Shoes
Called to the Principal's Office
Donated Art Supplies Arrive
The Field Trip
Fail the Test, Repeat the Grade
10 April: Freedom to Teach and Learnp. 151
Closing "Unacceptable" Schools
The Financial Cost of Testing
Rich Kids, Poor Kids
Adding to the Teacher Shortage
Letters to Illinois
How Poverty Relates to Test Scores
Buy This Book
Teachers Are "Treated Like Peons"
Observations about Drinking
End-of-the-Year Paperwork
Judging the Teachers
Gun Talk
11 May: "I Don't Want to Spend My Time on Paperwork"p. 167
The Writing Contest
Leaving the Public Schools
Learning the LEAP Test Results
Comparing Test Performances
No Longer "Promoted for Seat Time"
The Teachers Feel Like Failures
When 40,000 Fail
Informing My Pupils
"Why Are All Those Kids Crying?"
Why Are Teachers Ignored?
Living in the Woods
More Forms
Who Gets the Credit?
The Final Week
Awards Day
The Children's Wishes
Sorry--No Test Results
More Tests on the Horizon
12 How Can We Build a Better Future? Recommendations for Policy Changep. 189
What Teachers Need
The Standards Movement
Voices of Opposition
The Silence of Some
Summary of Our Recommendations
Referencesp. 207
Indexp. 213
About the Authorsp. 223