Week 11 – April 7-12, 2014: Opening Statement – Reaching Marginalized Students in the Age of Standardized Testing

The last person who asked me why I teach got an earful for the better part of an hour. The person before that published my response here. That response will probably offer more insight into this week’s #slowchatED topic than anything else I can hash together here at this moment in my life.

Our topic for the week of April 7, 2014, will be Reaching Marginalized Students in the Age of Standardized Testing. You see, I have a theory about this business of ours. I think I’ve seen a nasty underbelly, and what I’d like to learn this week is one of the following:

Am I correct, and this thing needs to be fixed sometime more immediately than now?


Am I wrong (please God let me be wrong), and is this windmill just NOT the giant that I see every day when I look upon it?

So, help me figure this out, please. We’ll start by figuring out what kinds of kids constitute my alleged marginalized populations. I don’t want to give too much away here, but it boils down to this thought: In our public school system’s quest for the Holy Grail of academic excellence represented by standardized test scores, it is only logical (to many educators, anyway) to focus mainly on the largest single population of students in a school. You see some of the margins in this graphic.

Screen w_Margins

See that Sea of Green? That’s where the money is.

When parents and teachers and students, themselves, begin advocating for some educational program or another that meets the needs of just a small segment of the student body, I see administrators and legislators who look the other way. Not enough bang for our very literal buck. This idea, and our necessary response to it as professional educators, is summed up nicely in @JennGRoach’s tweet from March 4 of this year:

My contention, in short, is that No Child Left Behind has fostered a culture within our nation’s public education system that is indeed leaving many, many children behind. While this was not the intention behind this or any other legislation or policy invoking standardized testing as the barometer used to judge success, incentive pay, ratings, promotion…abandoning small groups of children – marginalization – in the pursuit of these golden things has been and will continue to largely be the result by virtue of this major flaw in the design. Unless we fix it.

Stuff to read:

Why Dyslexia is a Learning Difference

Why geniuses don’t need gifted education        I personally think this is completely erroneous, but I’ve included it here for the sake of argument

Dewhurst releases interim charges for Senate education committees   Note the end of the fourth bullet

The School-to-Prison Pipeline Starts in Preschool   THIS gentleman is extremely hardcore about this topic, but isn’t that why we’re here? To get hardcore?

And like I said before, if you think I’m just wrong, please let me know – ALL WEEK LONG – because I need to believe that somewhere out there lies an Eden where every single child is learning.


  1. Thanks for the upcoming topic. @TeacherHovey and myself (@TeacherTownsend) have often contended that all secondary educators should have to do a year of their career, within the first 5 years of their career, teaching alternative education. He’s done 10 years and I’ve done 8. Alternative Education gives you insight into exactly what the children who are left behind look and sound like in addition to providing valuable feedback as to how they feel about mainstream test-and-drill education. Too many educators with the best of intentions give lip service to serving all populations when they themselves work in environments that don’t cater to all populations. Let’s hope this topic generates some new perspectives.

    1. Thanks for the input, Marc. I hope you stop by #slowchatED this week to add these insights to the discussion. See you in the coming days.


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