Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What does PSAT stand for?

If you answered Practice SAT, then, OK, fine, you are technically correct. However, I think the real answer is "Pretty Stupid-Ass Thinking."

Today, every child in my school (and in most high schools in DC) took the PSAT. Every single child. Even 9th graders with learning disabilities who can't read. Even children who do not know their multiplication tables, let alone any form of algebra. Every child.

The PSAT should be optional for 9th and 10th graders (there are some who could really benefit from the practice). It should be required for 11th graders (because that is when it counts for the National Merit Scholarship). But it should not be required for all children.

Call me crazy ("you're crazy, Mr. Potter") but I don't think that children need to take a test that they have no chance of doing well on when it doesn't count for anything. I'm all for high academic expectations, but there are 9th graders who can't read, and therefore cannot answer reading comprehension questions. Forcing them to try to do so will not work for anyone. A teacher down the hall from me asked her students to write one paragraph to our principal explaining how taking the test made them feel. All of the responses were things like "it made me feel stupid" or "it made me think I won't go to a good college."

Also, the PSAT costs money. It was free to our students because it was paid for by DC taxpayers. So, good work DCPS. We just paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to make tens of thousands of students feel dumb. I bet we could find a cheaper way of doing that...

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