Middle School Suicides Double as Common Core Testing Intensifies

Did you happen to see this article by Steven Singer?  More importantly, did PARENTS see it?  Sure, school is hard. Kids complain.  If they really, really complain, parents go to the teachers.  Teachers reassure them. Principals and Superintendents reassure them.  After all, they’re the "experts," not parents.  Kids are just "softer" than when we went to school.  Right?

Wrong.  Something is very, very wrong.   

"Here’s a high stakes testing statistic you won’t hear bandied about on the news.  The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds doubled between 2007 and 2014 – the same period in which states have increasingly adopted Common Core standards and new, more rigorous high stakes tests.  For the first time, suicide surpassed car crashes as a leading cause of death for middle school children.  In 2014, the last year for which data was available, 425 middle schoolers nationwide took their own lives."   

In April 2017, the Arizona State Board of Education voted to give Arizona schools a grade of A-F, based on student AZMerit test scores. Members of the State Board of Education are "experts," too. Right?  

According to Jared Taylor, with his moral compass intact, voted against this travesty.  He stated: "Suicide is a serious problem in Hong Kong where there is a similar obsession with testing. The current A-F model in Arizona is only going to make things worse as testing in K-8 is now worth 90 percent of the school letter grade."  

Don’t believe for a second that this obsession with testing is to benefit Arizona’s children or their parents.  Common Core, and everything associated with it, is all about the money.  From the beginning, in 2010, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Common Core for a "chance" at winning some of the federal government’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top giveaway.   That’s the reason Arizona and most other states adopted the Core.  It wasn’t validated, researched, or field tested. Book publishers, test makers, computer manufacturers, educational "non-profits" that push Common Core, etc., have all been raking in the dough ever since, using kids as their cash cow. See here, here, herehere, and here.  

At some point, the obsession with testing becomes utterly insane, as in South Korea and China.  

"In South Korea, one of the highest performing nations on international tests, youth suicide is a national epidemic.  According to the National Youth Policy Institute in Korea, one in four students considers committing suicide. In fact, Korea has the second highest youth suicide rate among contemporary nations."  See South Korean students wracked with stress and A lesson from South Korea: Student resistance to high-stakes testing 

Brook Larmer of the New York Times reports visiting student dormitories in Maotanchang, a secluded town in Anhui province, where the windows were covered in wire mesh to prevent students from jumping to their deaths.  See Inside a Chinese Test-Prep Factory.  Also see Chinese students use IV amino acids to study for high-stakes tests.

In some states, like Florida, performance on federally mandated tests actually determine if students can advance to the next grade. Some children pass their classes, but don’t move on purely because of test scores well within the margin of error.  See One Mother’s Story: How Overemphasis on Standardized Tests Caused Her 9-Year-Old to Try to Hang Himself.  

“…I didn’t tell him, but the next day [he] told me he knew he’d failed because if he had passed we’d have been told by the school and be celebrating. I lied—told him it takes several days and we’d know soon, but he insisted he’d failed. 

“It was dinner time. I called down the hall and asked what he wanted to drink with dinner. No response. I figured he was watching television in his room and hadn’t heard. A few moments later I called again. Again, no response. 

“I can’t tell you what it was that came over me, just that it was a sick feeling. I threw the hot pads I had in my hands on the counter and ran down the hall to [his] room, banged on the door and called his name. No response. I threw the door open. There was my perfect, nine- year-old freckled son with a belt around his neck hanging from a post on his bunk bed. His eyes were blank, his lips blue, his face emotionless. I don’t know how I had the strength to hoist him up and get the belt off but I did, then collapsed on the floor and held [him] as close to my heart as possible. There were no words. He didn’t speak and for the life of me I couldn’t either. I was physically unable to form words. I shook as I held him and felt his heart racing."  

Mr. Singer continues:

"High stakes testing is child abuse. We should not emulate other nations’ scores, especially when they come at such a cost.  The fact that we don’t engage in the worst abuses of Asian schools should be a point of pride, not jealousy.  We should cherish and nurture our children even if other nations sacrifice theirs on the altar of competition and statistics."  

"Efforts to increase test scores have changed U.S. schools to closer resemble those of Asia.Curriculum is being narrowed to only the tested subjects and instruction is being limited to testing scenarios, workbooks, computer simulations, practice and diagnostic tests.

"A classroom where students aren’t allowed to pursue their natural curiosities and are instead directed to boring and abstract drills is not a place of joy and discovery. A school that does not allow children to express themselves but forces constant test prep is a lifeless environment devoid of hope.  

"American students are increasingly being sorted and evaluated by reference to their test score rather than their classroom grade or other academic indicators. Students are no longer 6th, 7th or 8th graders. They’re Below Basics, Basics, Proficents and Advanced. The classes they’re placed in, the style of teaching, even personal rewards and punishments are determined by a single score."

See Also:

Retired teacher: ‘We’re doing this all wrong’

Why Teaching to the Test is Educational Malpractice  

It’s time for a moratorium on high-stakes testing