The Anti-Testing Rebellion

Standardized-TestingIs sweeping the nation.  In Texas 445 school districts have joined together in adopting a resolution calling on their state lawmakers to decrease the emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing.  Robert Scott, the Texas Education Commissioner back in February said that the focus on high stakes testing has become a “perversion” of what policymakers had intended.

Schools, parents and students are tiring of life in public schools being centered around tests – practice tests, pre-tests, revise tests, prep tests, and on and on and on.

Is there any education actually going on?

This isn’t just limited to Texas.  Stephanie Banchero in the Wall Street Journal noted that more than 500 youth in Everett, WA skipped state exams in protest early last month.  Parents of students in New York City Schools are getting involved.  Parents in Florida are signing a petition against the use of FCAT, Florida’s standardized test.  I noted in mid-May that if kids failed that particular test all the state of Florida was going to do was lower the standard.  How about addressing the problem?

Michael Benjamin in the New York Post writes that the rebellion in New York isn’t student driven, but union-driven.

This is all part of the broader assault on the No Child Left Behind law and on the Obama administration’s mandate tying teacher evaluations to achievement tests. It’s not student-driven, it’s union-driven.

Yes, “parent” groups oppose “high-stakes” testing, claiming that the tests are useless and only serve to stress out students. But these are mostly fronts for the United Federation of Teachers or other unions — which are really out to stop student-test data from being used to expose some teachers as unfit.

They can’t admit publicly that they oppose any serious measure of teacher competence, so they work to undermine each measure that comes along. They’ll blame poverty, race and now “error-plagued” tests to explain why students don’t perform well on state and federal assessments.

For themselves, many teachers and administrators truly worry that test results will unfairly make them look bad. Intentionally or not, some project those fears onto students, feeding student anxiety and parental angst.

While I’m sure that is partly, if not entirely true, it is also true in that in classrooms across this nation the TEST is what is being taught.  Is this really the type of education we want our kids to have?  Also, it demonstrates that standardized tests at the state level and/or the federal level simply don’t have the impact they had hoped they would have.  It’s time for something new… it’s time for some local innovation and local solutions.