Two things to read today on this testing debate. Justin Cohen pushes back on the post below (great nsfw line, too) and some of the criticism of the Oliver segment. He makes a good point about the joyfulness issue. But most schools were, and are, joyful places – and we should note that what’s joyful differs for different people. Don’t mistake all the rhetoric for the on the ground reality. And, in the political world, some of the toxicity is a deliberate strategy to shut down debate and change. And it works! That’s why we have this bizarre situation where trying to improve a system that results in nine percent of low-income kids finishing college by the time they are 24 (among other poor or mediocre outcomes) is so controversial.
Also check out the letter from civil rights organizations on the testing issue. I don’t agree on the opt-out issue, seems like public schools have little to gain and a lot to lose by fighting opt-outs. But that’s because it’s ultimately a marginal issue unless people fan the flames. This point, however, is important:
Our commitment to fair, unbiased, and accurate data collection and reporting resonates greatest in our work to improve education. The educational outcomes for the children we represent are unacceptable by almost every measurement. And we rely on the consistent, accurate, and reliable data provided by annual statewide assessments to advocate for better lives and outcomes for our children. These data are critical for understanding whether and where there is equal opportunity.
But except in extreme cases some opt-outs don’t destroy the ability to do that. Their basic point though is an important one. Meanwhile, Jay Greene is almost certainly right about the politics here though. So that’s the puzzle to solve.
One Reply to “Testing…Testing…”
The letter from Civil Rights groups also says, “There are some legitimate concerns about testing in schools that must be addressed. But instead of stimulating worthy discussions about over-testing, cultural bias in tests, and the misuse of test data, these activists would rather claim a false mantle of civil rights activism.” At the end of the day, the most important part of the testing issue is whether we’re over testing students. I think Greene’s comment forces a broader discussion of which policies are okay for whose kids? And I agree that, since middle-class white families hold the social capital in the country, the opposition to testing will be fierce. The logical end of digging in on testing and test prep is a two-tiered system that is no better than the system that existed for most of the country’s history. Wealthy white parents will send their kids to private schools, and these kids will go on to run the country, and poor, people of color will send their kids to traditional public schools or charter schools. While these kids will be ready for the test, they won’t actually develop skills to be successful in their lives (see Jean Anyon here: http://www.appstate.edu/~jacksonay/rcoe/anyon.pdf). Rather than investing in summative measures that don’t actually help teachers do their job better with their current students, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest funds 1) in improving teachers’ abilities to use formative data to adjust their instruction, and 2) early education initiatives that can make up for the gaps in literacy and numeracy that exist prior to kids’ starting kindergarten?