Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Has Testing Reached a Tipping Point?

I recently read a blog post by Sam Chaltain, "Has Testing Reached a Tipping Point?"  As educators, we are all aware that since the inception of NCLB in 2001, most legislators and educational reformers have been touting the virtues of standardized testing.  Although doing so makes no statistical sense, the effectiveness of schools in the poorest areas of Chicago are being judged by the same standardized test score expectations as those schools located in the wealthiest north shore communities.  NCLB has set a completely unrealistic goal that 100% of all students must meet or exceed standards on these State tests by 2014 (even though no country in the world has ever accomplished such achievement levels).  Now, there is a State and Federal push to tie teacher evaluations to these standardized test scores.  All of this causes Chaltain to question if our country is finally starting to realize the dangers of such an all out emphasis on standardized test scores.

Such an aggressive assault on public education by the State and Federal government has caused educators to begin emotionally speaking out about the negative ramifications of focusing solely on standardized testing.  However, as the Chaltain stated, we have to be careful in how we approach trying to change the current process for the better.
To convert their opponents from hostility to acceptance, educators will need to clarify more than what they're against; they'll also need to propose specific and realistic alternatives.
That last statement closely aligned with my own personal thoughts on this topic.  We have to be very careful that in our messages espousing the inherent dangers of relying solely on standardized testing to judge students, teachers and schools, that we are not seen as simply being scared of accountability.  Worse yet, we cannot send the message to the public that we don't value the data that appropriate assessment provides.  Every profession spends time collecting appropriate data, evaluating that data, and using that data for continuous improvement.  Education should be no different.  The continuous improvement of our schools is dependent upon this process.  To not collect and evaluate student performance data would be educational malpractice on our parts.

Therefore, we have to do more than oppose the narrow focus of using only standardized testing data.  Instead, we must also identify and champion viable alternatives that can be used to accurately and fairly evaluate the effectiveness of our instruction and our schools.  That is the challenge we face, because identifying problems is easy, but offering solutions is challenging.  All educators must rise to this challenge, or accept the fact that the rules of the accountability game will continue to be dictated to us.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy reading your blog. It is always thought provoking.