Because ladies and gentlemen, today is the day they give the TCAP Writing Assessment at Molly’s school. This standardized test is the ruler by which your 5th, 8th or 11th grader will be measured.
Last week Molly brought home an informational flyer on it and I’ll be honest with you, I have lost sleep over this. The 8th grade will be given an expository essay to write.
Here’s a brief snapshot of the criteria and ratings for the “Tennessee Scoring Rubric*.”
A score of 6- OUTSTANDING (And yes, it is in capital letters.) The essay is well organized, grammatically accurate, etc…
5- STRONG. Same stuff as above but less so.
4- COMPETENT. Ditto above.
3- LIMITED. Some proficiency but clearly flawed.
2- FLAWED. Need I expound on this?
1-DEFICIENT. Serious and persistent writing errors. This is probably the score my son would achieve. He prefers working with his hands and will read only if he’s going to gain instruction on telephone switching. (Or other areas of interest that are WAY beyond my area of comprehension.)
Am I advocating that we cultivate a bunch of anarchist dolts by throwing standards to the wind?
Hell no. I’m a professional writer and am of the opinion that clear communication, both written and spoken, is imperative.
But I’m not so LIMITED to think that this is the only measure of success. I think of the future diesel mechanics. The dancers. The poets. The leaders. All of whom will never become what they were destined to be. Because they were labeled DEFICIENT and shamed and shut down long before they were given the chance to grow and flourish as individuals.
I think of the boys especially– the ones who learn best when they’re moving—sitting, confined to little desks, knowing they will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Rubrics are best used in evaluating factories. Not children.
PS I find it interesting to point out that in the book “On Writing Well,” one of the barriers to writing well is identified as SCHOOL. (Author William Zinsser notes that the kids know how to construct a grammatically correct sentence but there is no creativity.)
*Rubric-noun – a title, heading, direction, or the like, written or printed in red or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text. A class or category.
Filed under: education, homeschooling, Individuality, Labels are for Soup Cans, Public schooling, Special Needs' Kids | Tagged: education, Labels are for Soup Cans, learning, learning differences, standardized test, TCAP writing assesment | 4 Comments »