Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Rest assured, nothing in the new testing regimen will come close to examining the pillars of the religion that is the American state."

Should School Test Standards be Changed?

By Bionic Mosquito

Well, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe both.

It seems the Obama administration is deciding that maybe standardized testing in K – 12 education has gone too far:

Faced with mounting and bipartisan opposition to increased and often high-stakes testing in the nation’s public schools, the Obama administration declared Saturday that the push had gone too far, acknowledged its own role in the proliferation of tests, and urged schools to step back and make exams less onerous and more purposeful.

While a similar statement (followed by concrete action) on foreign military adventurism might offer an unequivocal cheer from lovers of less government intrusion everywhere, I cannot say that this is always and everywhere true for standardized testing. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The so-called Common Core standards seem to have broken the camel’s back:

States, led by the National Governors Association and advised by local educators, created the so-called Common Core standards, which outlined the skills students should have upon graduation, and signed on to tests tied to those standards.

As a new generation of tests tied to the Common Core was rolled out last spring, several states abandoned plans to use the tests, while others renounced the Common Core…

What is motivating this change?

… “I can’t tell you how many conversations I’m in with educators who are understandably stressed and concerned about an overemphasis on testing in some places and how much time testing and test prep are taking from instruction.”

It is the educators. So says Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.

Teachers’ unions, which had led the opposition on the left to the amount of testing, declared the reversal of sorts a victory.

On the left, parents and unions objected to tying tests to teacher evaluations…

More precisely, it is the teachers’ unions.

Considered the lusciousness of this – the reason the federal government wants to reduce standardized testing has nothing to do with the students; it is because the teachers are failing the test.

Now, returning to the question that is the title of this post, and my answer to this question: Should school test standards be changed? Well, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe both.

There is something close to 55 million K – 12 students in the United States. 55 million. Let the number sink in.

Those of you who are parents consider – even in your small sample size of about two children per family: does one size fit both of your children when it comes to their interests, how they learn, how they study, how they progress, etc.? To ask the question is to answer it. Yet here we have a one-size-fits-all testing regimen for 55 million.

For some students, the regimen may be just fine; for most, I am certain that the regimen is wrong.

Just remember, they aren’t changing it because of the failure of 55 million students to conform to a one-size-fits-all curriculum, they are changing it because the test score are used to grade the teachers, and the teachers are failing.

You see, they aren’t giving up on one-size-fits-all 55 million – they just want to try on a different size:

“I still have no question that we need to check at least once a year to make sure our kids are on track or identify areas where they need support,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, who has announced that he will leave office in December.

How would he know – does he have a close relationship with each one of 55 million of them?

“What happens if somebody puts a cap on testing, and to meet the cap ends up eliminating tests that could actually be helpful, or leaves the redundancy in the test and gets rid of a test that teachers can use to inform their instruction?” asked Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization that represents about 70 large urban school districts.

Who can say what is “helpful” for each one of 55 million students?

The administration said it would issue “clear guidance” on testing by January.

Apparently the federal government can say.

Rest assured, nothing in the new testing regimen will come close to examining the pillars of the religion that is the American state.


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