Beware of Greeks Bearing Standardized Tests
Foundations, charities but mainly for-profit groups claim to have all the answers to “fix” education in the United States. Their principal tool is the standardized test, and not just any standardized tests, the ones they have created. It’s funny they always talk about accountability but what harm does it do to millions of students to be rated by tests that make little sense and measure only a small part of the results we expect our schools to produce?
As as society, it should be a matter of some concern that tax free foundations are the weapons of choice in the battle to replace public education with a neo-liberal set up where you get what you pay for. Essentially, the taxpayers are substituting anti-democratic initiatives across the country.
It’s bizarre that the United States is one of the pioneers in creating public schools is the nation where it seems most under attack.
Privatization is undoing Brown v. Board of Education – Salon.com
Untaxed and Unqualified Foundations Want To “Save Our Schools”
The “starve the beast” mentality allows the privatizers to claim that our “Soviet-style” schools don’t work, and that a business approach must be used instead. Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family, who have little educational experience among them, and who have little accountability to the public, are promoting “education reform” with lots of standardized testing.
But according to the National Research Council, “The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways.” Diane Ravitch notes that the test-based Common Core standards were developed by a Gates-funded organization with almost no public input. Desperate states had to adopt the standards to get funding.
Bill Gates may be well-intentioned, but he’s a tech guy, and his programming of children into educational objects is disturbing. One of his ideas is to videotape teachers and then analyze their performances. The means of choosing ‘analysts’ is unclear. Another Gates idea is the Galvanic Skin Response bracelet, which would be attached to a child to measure classroom engagement, and ultimately gauge teacher performance. It all sounds like a drug company’s test lab.
As noted by Ravitch and others, philanthropic organizations tend to contribute to “like-minded entities,” which are likely to exclude representatives of the neediest community organizations. They are also tax-exempt. And when educational experiments go wrong, they can just leave their mess behind and move on to their next project.
via Privatization is undoing Brown v. Board of Education – Salon.com.
From around the web.
From the web site, Cleo’s Blog.
I completely agree with the Education Bug. Standardized testing has its place in schools, but it is extremely flawed. In today’s society standardized testing greatly impacts the lives of every student and teacher in the public school system. We have created these tests to measure students intelligence, as well as the performance of teachers in the classroom. One problem with this (which must not have stood out when we decided to implement these in our schools) is that just like every student learns differently, they test differently as well.
Another problem with standardized test is that it takes away from a teacher’s freedom in the classroom to teach what they think the students should know.When a teacher steps into a classroom each morning they focus on only the things that may be on the big test at the end of the year, leaving out crucial information that may not necessarily be on the test. The curriculum of our schools are now being based around the content of the standardized tests. This not only limits teachers’ creativity and ability to share knowledge with their students, but also caps students’ learning and retention of information. Students take in the information in a way only to regurgitate it for the test and then they soon forget what they have learned. Among the many flaws of standardized testing, curriculum is only one. Governmental spending on test preparations and how great the impact these tests have on students’ educational careers are also pitfalls of the standardized tests.
6 thoughts on “Beware of Greeks Bearing Standardized Tests!”
Most everyone on the ground in public education are critical of standardized testing. And now we are presented with another in a long line of prescriptions in the form of Core Curriculum. Unfortunately, we made this bed and now we have to lay in it. And for fifty years we’ve been trying to fix the problem we made for ourselves with segregation. Is the problem less severe? I don’t think so. The new approach that might have some merit does away with the drill and kill bubbling tests and is seeking to develop a system that creates an environment that emphasized critical thinking. I’m sure we’ll play around with this for a few years and then ditch it, while bringing out a new system in its place. One strategy we’re using in Alief ISD in Houston is Family Engagement whereby we are focusing on getting parents more engaged in their children’s education. This is the main ingredient that seems to enhance a child’s achievement. Other than that it seems to be proven that pre-school also has a great effect in helping children in poverty.
It is so good to hear from you! When you commented on my flu, I thought there was something familiar in the little postage stamp sized picture that came with it but now I remember you and how much I enjoyed reading your work on the web. I would really like to post your comment on this essay as a separate web post if you don’t mind.
Please do. i kind of went AWOL for a while. Actually, i ran out of things to say. I’m working here in Houston with the challenges of public education in an effort to get low income families “engaged” in their children’s education. I’m working on an article that i’ll probably be posting in the next day or so, entitled The difference between being “involved” and “engaged” as it relates to schools. There are a lot of generalizations about why parents don’t get involved in education, some correct, some partially correct and some totally incorrect. But, as I have found, that’s the way most issues are. The problem is that so many folks don’t really want to look at the issues with logic and compassion, just bolster their own misconceptions.
I’m glad you’re among the living again. And feel free to reblog any of my posts. I’m trying to rebuild my readership.
Reblogged this on Daring to Change and commented:
No one’s exactly the same. Different people have different strengths and their individual ways of learning. The cultural differences should be taken into consideration. To produce a common mould is always wrong but systems, not only educational ones, tend to make do with one. Makes you wonder the many reasons why such ideas exist. – Karen Fu
Quite true. The American system of education was heavily influenced by the need to turn immigrant children into American citizens and that purpose is still important. This may sound naive but I have doubts about the importance of high test scores. Some things I did badly in school, I later did quite well in real life, and as a teacher, myself, I can’t but notice how the test scores do not always reflect the ability I see in my students.
I think it’s important to have immigrants to fully integrated into the local system though…over here in Singapore, probably it’s due to the fact that this country is tiny, many immigrants don’t exactly want to integrate which can be a social cost later on. The test scores do tend to brand or grade a person for life on paper….the irony is it doesn’t measure a person’s true ability at all, but it does measure very accurately on one’s study technique and persistence -the kind that belongs to the candidate who aims to score on grades. Personally, I have similar experience like you: what I used to do like crap now seem to be better. Eg. My Chinese grades used to be an ‘A’ by default without much studying and revision, but if you let me do a test now, I’d probably score a B or lower due to the lack of use of the language. Experience is important. I had poor grades for English Literature in school doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate the literature and English theatre now, after the fact that I had lived and watched so many plays in England that gradually strengthened my abilities to appreciate English literature. Tests are not exact values. But people tend to use the, because its a kind of power play…..
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