By Edith Morgan
School has started – parents heave a sigh of relief, and the Damocles sword of mandated testing programs hangs heavy over teachers and students. And the purveyors of the tests are laughing all the way to the bank at the prospect of yet another very profitable year of ripping off the taxpayers, gaining control of what and how we teach our children, and generally playing into the hands of the privatizers and dehumanizers who are increasingly getting control over us in so many ways.
“No Child Left Behind” – left so many behind! – and its illegitimate offspring, “Race to the Top” (or more correctly, “Race to the Bottom”) both require standardized testing . How do you suppose mandatory standardized testing was included? How many palms of elected officials in Washington, D.C. were crossed with silver to make sure the testing companies made out like bandits every year in every school?
I was in education at all levels for more than 40 years and have kept up since then. I have never yet met or heard of a teacher who does not test students regularly. Weekly, or sometimes even daily, students have to prove that they have learned or mastered what is being taught.
Remember the spelling tests, the math tests, the essays, the many ways teachers check to see what is being learned, what needs to be re-taught, what has to be taught a different way if too many in the class did not “get it”? The tests reflected accurately what had been taught and enabled the classroom teacher to assess what students had “gotten” and what they still needed to know. So, if there was a clear understanding of what the curriculum required, it was always up to the teacher to make certain that those things were taught and learned. Good teachers also applied a variety of ways to learn, adapting their methods to the learning styles of their students.
Standardized tests pretty much throw all that out the window.
Their form does not take into consideration the most important things that American schools traditionally valued: Their job was not simply to make kids “marketable” but to grow a new generation of good citizens, informed enough to participate ALL THEIR LIVES in their families, communities and nation – and to make intelligent and thoughtful choices all along. There is NO standardized test which even considers these goals, as they are not amenable to multiple choice bubbles.
We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have in Cambridge an organization called “FairTest,” which has for many years monitored and reported on testing throughout the nation. Every administrator, teacher, parent and citizen interested in securing the best education for ALL our children should at the very least read their report, “How Standardized Testing Damages Education” – updated July 2012. It details how this testing does NOT provide accountability, measures very little and is not accountable to our parents, teachers, students and community.
To learn more google FairTest. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.