Full Disclosure

Full disclosure: I spent 36 years in public education as a high school math/science teacher and as a district-level administrator responsible for curriculum, instruction and assessment. At the university level I have taught graduate-level classes in curriculum, instruction, and especially in the teaching of higher-level thinking. My background includes speaking in venues across the continent on higher-level thinking, school facility design, and brain research as it applies to teaching. I spent the last 20-plus years in the private sector. I worked for a design firm that specialized in school design and have served as a consultant to districts regarding curriculum, instruction, assessment, and facility design.

So I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

Why am I telling you this? My half-century of serving the public schools tells me we have ignored the vast research base regarding human development and learning and are allowing the privatizers, aided and abetted by the UDDOE, to steal the futures of our nation’s children. I cannot sit idly by while our public school system is pillaged by Wall Street.

Today I want to focus on just one aspect of the sacking of our public schools, high-stakes standardized testing. Listed below are just 10 of the many problems identified by our friend, Marion Brady, in his “Problems: High-Stakes Standardized Tests,” found at www.marionbrady.com/documents/TestProbs.pdf. My own background tells me that any one of the ten is reason to question the use of the tests and taken together are reason to totally reject them.

Provide minimal to no useful feedback to classroom teachers
Lead to neglect of physical conditioning, music, art, and other, non-verbal ways of learning
Hide problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring
Use arbitrary, subjectively-set pass-fail cut scores
Are unavoidably biased by social-class, ethnic, regional, and other cultural differences
Have no “success in life” predictive power
Are open to massive scoring errors with life-changing consequences
Are at odds with deep-seated American values about individuality and worth
Waste the vast, creative potential of human variability
Simply don’t work. The National Academy of Sciences, 2011 report to Congress says the use of standardized tests “has not increased student achievement.”

If you are an educator, what excuse do you have for not speaking up? How could you allow this particularly nasty form of child abuse go on without saying anything? Did you not know of these problems? Now that you do know, what are you going to do? Teachers in Sandy Hook stood up to bullets. Are you willing to stand for what is right?

Reject high-stakes standardized testing. This is the time to speak up.

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