Minnesotans for Better Education, Standards and Testing

Minnbest is a non-partisan, broad based coalition of parents, educators and school advocacy groups who believe excellent public education is a foundation of democracy in America.

1/10/2004

Public Testimony from Apple Valley Hearing on Proposed Social Studies Standards

Standards of Learning in Virginia

10/13/03

My name is Cheryl Anderson. As a parent of two elementary school children, I am encouraging all of us to exercise caution before adopting any proposed curriculum. I believe we should all fully understand the benefits, as well as the flaws of the proposed curriculum, so we can make an informed decision.

I believe strongly in the value of education, having benefited personally from strong public schools that helped to teach me to think through things and not simply accept them at face value. I am concerned that the Standards of Learning Curriculum may be
more focused on facts and figures than in teaching our children how to think for themselves.

I am also concerned about the increased levels of testing. I used to live in Virginia where the Standards of Learning have already been introduced. My sisters, who also value quality education, both have expressed great frustration with the curriculum. While they think teachers and schools should be accountable for providing quality education, they believe that the SOLs have been implemented in a way that the negatives outweigh the positives. They have watched their children lose much of their love for learning after the SOLs were implemented.

My nieces and nephew’s classes are now structured around preparing for the tests since the teachers and schools are measured by the results. In history, they are focused on learning facts and figures, many obscure according to my sister, rather than understanding why the event took place. The students in Virginia now cram subject matter in preparation for a test rather than experience creative learning. They have specialists come in to help them prepare for the question types, home booklets, study sheets, early morning prep sessions, and practice tests… all in preparation for the standardized test. They have lost the joy of learning.

Many have worked hard to eliminate the Profiles of Learning. Let’s be careful that we move forward, not backward, in offering a quality curriculum to our children.

Cheryl Anderson, Eagan, MN