While it is great that so much emphasis is being placed on the misuse of NECAP testing there is much more that needs to be looked at regarding how our present youth population is treated by the education system.
Recent studies indicate that nearly 1 in 5 school aged youth are taking prescription medications. In addition, the abuse of medications like Adderall, Klonopin and Oxycontin has resulted in a number of kids becoming addicted, going to jail and/or overdosing (sometimes death resulting).
I point this out because being a young person today is proving to be more stressful than for the last generation. Sure, each era has its concerns, but for today’s kids the pace of the world is often difficult to keep up with.
In trying to keep up with the tests, extra school requirements, after school activities, friends, navigating through cyberspace, parents etc., etc. some young people either shut down or are given medications to keep up. In an odd way a Cottage Industry has been created – benefiting testing companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, psychiatrists and so-called education reformers.
While all of this goes on, kids are being exploited and miseducated. With little emphasis on applicability, today’s education system is oftentimes perfunctory. Even kids who ‘keep up’ are cheated. For those who struggle it is remediation, medication, dropping out, counseling and/or a feeling of failure.
We are creating an alienation factory. Too many are prescribed powerful medications so they can remain on the conveyor belt.
There is much more to the NECAP story than just the test. Where once child development was central to how we taught kids – test scores have become the major player. Where once Piaget, Erikson, Gardner and Montessori were discussed, young students are now educated as if in a Dilbert episode.
Addressing the importance of the NECAP is essential. However, doing so is only a part of the battle. The stress being placed on today’s youth is enormous. Somehow we have to step back and look at this.
I am amazed that we are allowing this all to occur under our noses. There are school officials afraid to speak for fear of losing their jobs. There are politicians supportive of all of this reform stuff because it can be supposedly measured by tests. In the end the kids pay the heaviest price. Years from now many will wish they had spoken up.