Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spelling tests...on their way out the door?

This article from the St. Louis news discusses two districts dropping the weekly spelling test, because research (both their own and research in general) shows students don't transfer "memorize then forget it" knowledge to their actual writing. This comes as no surprise to RRVWP teachers, of course--especially those of us who saw Alissa Helm and Kelly Sassi's great reading group project/demo on spelling in the 2010 summer institute.

What's really interesting is the way both the author of the article and several of the commenters just don't get what is being said here--they want to cling to the idea of "but spelling tests must be good because I had them" and assume this is more "dumbing down" of the curriculum. The journalist's conclusion at the end of the story--that if kids weren't transferring the spelling test words to their writing, then the spelling tests just needed to be harder--makes absolutely no sense in any form of logic I can think of.

If you wade through the "we need phonics!" and "teachers are lazy" comments, you'll see that at least one commenter reports that his/her children attend one of the schools in question and that since the elimination of the spelling test, the kids are doing a lot more writing. Also, these are two of the strongest school districts in the state in terms of student performance. Hmmmm....