10/10/2006

WashPost Works Hard To Perpetuate Testing Fears, Ignores Own Chart. Oops.

I guess I should be thankful that Valerie Strauss doesn't quote anyone from FairTest in her piece today in the Washington Post on testing (The Rise of the Testing Culture), which presents many of the usual ominous scenarios, gathers many of the usual types of critics, and comes to the many of the same conclusions. But the piece has too many problems, both factual and journalistic, to ignore.

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For starters, there's a careless description of NCLB that associates the law with student promotion decisions and seems to try and revive the false notion that NCLB makes decisions based on a "single test." Then there's the strikingly clear anti-testing slant. There's no mention of the recent rise of formative assessments (used to diagnose and intervene early rather than waiting until 3rd grade).

There's nary a mention of the daily tests and exams teachers themselves impose on students, which are more common and in many cases more stressful on students. And the piece ignores until the very end fundamental political reality that taxpayers and lawmakers are unwilling to fund schools without some measures of performance, however imperfect.

Most of all, the piece ignores public opinion polls showing overwhlemingly strong support among parents and students for current testing -- a point that contradicts Strauss's piece almost entirely -- and appears next to it on the page (click image left).

3 Comments:

Blogger Michele at AFT said...

I also thought the reference to the Apgar test given to newborns was ridiculous.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Sheila said...

While you are correct about the story's slant, I feel that there is meat in the issue. When testing becomes so important that it's like a tail that wags the dog, there is cause for concern. Of course, we will continue to have testing, and I'm not advocating we abolish all tests. I wrote about the story in my blog. My high school senior will be taking the ACT for the third time later this month. There is a whole industry devoted to enhancing test prep. I think it is fair to ask, "Have we gone too far?"

My son took and passed the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. It wasn't too difficult even for a student like my son who struggles with math. Strangely, today the state administrators are asking the seniors in my son's school to retake the science portion to determine if the test is too hard or too easy. My son says the students consider this a joke. Where's the motivation to do your best? I think that we must recognize the problems with standardized tests and quit making them the end all and be all. Four weeks of the school years are consumed with the process here in Alabama.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Catherine Johnson said...

Classroom tests in my son's middle school, where grading is opaque, sometimes arbitrary, and inconsistent from teacher to teach are far more stressful than the state tests.

The state tests are like a little vacation from school.

10:10 PM  

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