CSAP Does Not Foster Learning

Ten years of CSAP have given us: larger class sizes, the elimination of recess, electives, and even play in kindergarten, which result in bored students, higher drop-out rates, fewer students graduating from college, and frustrated parents.

What is missing from Bruce Broderius’ CSAP flying analogy (Feb. 18 Tribune, “CSAP helps gain knowledge, skills to succeed in adulthood.”) is that in flight school you learn how to fly, not because the state expects you to, but because you have the desire and motivation to want to. Once you’ve completed the training, you are actually prepared to fly. That’s real world learning!

The Colorado Student Assessment Program has resulted in a focus on basic skills only, and many students not scoring proficient get double-dipped in areas of weakness. Thus, they miss out on electives that previously made school at least somewhat interesting. Without motivation, students will not learn much of anything, least of all facts that have no relevance to their real world!

Instead of teaching students meaningful skills that will actually serve them in their future — critical thinking, innovation, resourcefulness, self-discipline, creativity and dealing with the unexpected — they are made expert in multiple-choice and short-answer questions. It’s comparable to putting adults through flight school and then resigning them to throwing paper airplanes in a gymnasium.

Ten years of CSAP have given us: larger class sizes, the elimination of recess, electives, and even play in kindergarten, which result in bored students, higher drop-out rates, fewer students graduating from college, and frustrated parents. Testing our children on CSAP does not improve the learning for our children, but many people (including Greeley-Evans School District 6 superintendent Renae Dreier) are convinced CSAP is a good and, it is implied, a fair assessment.

There’s nothing good or fair about subjecting children who witness or experience abuse and neglect at home, or who go to school hungry or stressed, or who are depressed, to tests that are not at all child-friendly, expect them to do well on the tests and then penalize them with extra worksheets if they don't!

Surely $18 million spent yearly on CSAP testing could be better used on smaller classes, more teachers and more time to nurture children’s personal interests as well. Give our schools the resources and the solutions that work, or some day flight schools may fall by the wayside since most of our kids, if they even make it to graduation, may have lost the dream to fly, period!

By Conny Jensen
Published in Greeley Tribune (2007-03-04)

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