Monday, December 11, 2017

Long Past Time to End Standardized Testing

More than two decades ago, some educators believed that standardized testing was a panacea for curing a historical issue found in America's classrooms. This issue was that some teachers did not value the success of students of color. A large body of education research confirmed the fact that students of color were not receiving an equitable education in our classrooms. To compel teachers to work for each and every student, a system of testing with punitive consequences was designed to negatively incentivize success in the classroom. These negative outcomes became a foundation upon which NO Child Left Behind was implemented. This means to compel the teaching of all students became a selling point to rectify the "soft bigotry of low expectations" as George W. Bush phrased it in 2002. However, the testing system has not lead to improved performance based upon NAEP scores and has lead to further outcomes that continue to disenfranchise not only students of color, but all students.  

We have known for decades that standardized tests are culturally biased, and while there was a need for teachers to instruct all students, students of color, and disadvantaged students, "results from the next-generation MCAS exam show continued large score  gaps linked to race, income, disability, and language". The jury is in, standardized testing was not the solution to the ongoing problem of the inequity in instruction in the classroom. Standardized testing is an expansive non-solution that does not tell any teacher, school department, principal, or parent what they do not already know. From the article below, "For two decades, we’ve seen how high-stakes standardized testing hurts students and fails to prepare them well for life. Now, there’s a growing realization that it’s time to pause, look at the evidence, and take a different approach." 

This article from Massachusetts reflects much of what takes place in Texas, and in every other state, that standardized testing, the way it is being used, has not been the solution it was sold to be. (We cannot test and punish our way to better schools). The Standardized testing industry exacts an expensive toll on our schools and communities and does not deliver on its promise to remedy our society's challenges. We have been sold a bill of goods that comes at a high price when our public schools are desperate to fill classrooms with career educators, are overburdened with demands from the state and federal lawmaking bodies and not given the resources to fulfill those tasks, and are funded at levels that prevent our public schools from offering enriching activities and authentic curriculum. There is a better way...

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