Sunday, December 17, 2006

CSAP.com


Yay! The CSAP scores were published last week and we the public are able to assess how our educators are doing. I am exceedingly glad that we have a single test that tells us everything we need to know about our children. Really takes the monkey off my back.

In my district, every one of our elementary schools achieved one of the top two marks: (1) Excellent or (2) High. This should be a cause for celebration. But it isn't. My children are at a school achieving the embarrassing High mark. This has happened for the past few years and has caused a mass exodus from our school to the Excellent schools. Children are receiving a much better education there, no doubt. In return, we receive many out-of-district children which, like it or not, causes a further slide in our scores.

The funny thing is that my children were in the Excellent school for 8 years and I felt that they were receiving an inferior education there. Lots of control. No enrichment. No affirmation or fun or freedom. I forget. Where on the CSAPs do they measure musical talent? Artistic genius? Creativity? Vision? A high EQ, Emotional Quotient, which psychologists recognize as the true measure of future success? Oh, that's right. Nowhere. Monkeys, take your number 2 pencils and fill in the circles.

The CSAPs remind me of Match.com. Newly divorced, my friends convinced me that Match.com was a great way to meet cool guys. Reluctantly I put together a rather sarcastic profile, no picture because I felt that a response would indicate a certain level of bravery, and waited for my dream guy to find me. After a few weeks, I started corresponding with someone who seemed super groovy on paper. Athletic, outdoorsy, humorous, intelligent, financially secure. Eureka!

Against my better judgment I agreed to meet for dinner. Oh boy. I could tell within 2 minutes of walking in the door that a paper representation of this man had given me an incomplete picture of his true personality, to say the least. By the end of the night, I was holding his head in my lap, stroking his hair as he sobbed his way through stories of his schizophrenic sister and his abusive father. With my free hand I searched my purse for a razor blade or a hallucinogenic mushroom or a flask of Jack Daniels or anything else that might comfort me, but to no avail. I am happy to report, however, that he finished up the date not with a kiss, thank God in heaven, but by giving me a Scottish tam with fake fur hair attached. A downpayment on a future date he said.

Do I have a point here? I think I do. It's that nothing real or complicated or meaningful can be reduced to paper. To a score. CSAPs don't measure true genius, family relationships, athletic ability, talent, the condition of the mind or heart. They don't measure the capacity to learn. They don't measure the involvement or compassion of the teacher. They measure nothing except a child's ability to regurgitate a head stuffed full of useless information. They tell us nothing more than a rat walking through a maze tells us. Nothing more than a carefully-worded Match.com profile tells us. Both should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

In case you were wondering, I still have the tam.

1 comment:

laura abbott said...

Ok, LOVED this so much that I forwarded it to the teachers at our Highlands Ranch school...they will applaud you!!