My Opinion

I never did understand the opposition to standardized testing in school 

Ranking and rating means that even if everyone is excellent, the least excellent must be marked Below Basic or Underperforming or Just Not Good Enough. A system based on ranking and rating is a system that assumes that in every endeavor, there are people who just aren’t good enough. I reject that view of the world, and so I reject any testing system designed to reinforce that view. If everybody in my classroom does a great job, everybody in my classroom gets an A.

From a teachers letter to the editor opposing standardized testing

Everyone is not excellent‼️

Yup, that’s the way the world works. Employers don’t rank workers, the worst of the best does not get less in rewards, doing a great job with minimal results is rewarded.

Teachers need to get out more in the real world.

Well the reality is that in every endeavor there are people who just aren’t good enough. That’s why sports teams cut players, why people get fired or not promoted, why some people are very successful and others not.

Giving everybody an A is one of the reasons our society is so screwed up. Everyone does not deserve an A and making them think they do is not helpful.

This is not to say some people are bad or stupid, but they simply cannot achieve in certain areas and may excel in others. (Don’t ask me to do algebra; I never did get it and I liked statistics so much I took it twice). Standardized testing does not have to be stressful or demeaning and there should be no reason to teach to the test which if you think about it defeats the purpose of such a test. If you have the right curriculum and the right teacher and tools (and parent involvement) why shouldn’t we expect a reasonable learning result consistent with a distribution of capabilities?

Is it unreasonable that we expect a graduate to know basic grammar, be proficient at reading and capable of doing common math problems and if they are not, finding out why? And yes, it is helpful to have a valid benchmark for comparison; that’s exactly how business operates.

Other countries do standardized testing, but sometimes with one big difference. They don’t use the results to punish schools or teachers but to focus on helping struggling schools. Perhaps that’s our real problem.

We can debate testing all we want. We can dream that every student deserves an A, but in the end only the real world matters, and that says something is very wrong which does not portend well for America.

Only about a third of U.S. high school seniors are prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading. And while the performance of the country’s highest achievers is increasing in reading, the lowest-achieving students are performing worse than ever.

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4 replies »

  1. I fully agree Dick. I don’t like this idea that every kid must go to college. I didn’t and I think I did a good job at work. Many jobs train you their way, on the job. Some kids are good with their hands, some are good with their minds, some might like Medicine, others might want to be a plumber.
    Common core and no kid left behind I think has done an injustice to our country. When I went to school, we had three types of courses, College course, Secretarial Course and General Course.
    I had the secretarial and when I graduated, I had the talents to find a job. I could type, I could take speed writing, I could fix machines in the office and use them. It seems now kids have to go to Jr. College to get the courses I had in High School. I had Business Law and Accounting 1-2.
    I have friends all over the country, some went on to college and some didn’t. Some that did, can’t write a letter for beans. The English is horrible. We also had teachers who stayed after school to help those who needed extra help. I even tutored several students in subjects I had also.
    I feel the kids should be able to pass normal standardized tests. Some will ace them and some won’t. That’s okay. Help is available for anyone who wants it. They should also be testing for eyes in the school, as some don’t realize that is part of the problem. Dyslexia may also be a problem. We had all of this back then.

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  2. I recently finished reading “Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture” by Anthony Esolen. One of the chapters is about American schooling. It is the most succinct and devastating portrait of education I have read.

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  3. I have not had any kids in the public school system for a while, but I believe one of the backlashes from all this testing is the time. I believe the local school district is now spending 4 weeks a year testing for some grades. What a waste of instruction time. Some of these tests service a purpose and others are to punish the teachers and the school. To give every child an A is doing them and their parents a disservice because the real world is so different. You will always be judged against somebody else because often only there is only one opening for position.

    But the assumption that every kid must go to college is also wrong. We need to bring back vocational schools and stop dumping kids who do not learn from textbooks. Not everybody are great written test takers but some can weld like crazy. (I know that I can’t weld but I can take a test). We need to stop lowering standards to meet the majority. Maybe this is why so many kids fail to finish college because they had it too easy in high school.

    The other misconception is that testing stops when you leave school. In the real world your performance is evaluated everyday and if you do not maintain the standards, you will be fired. Whether it is making widgets or examining patients, if you are not fired you may be sued if you do not performed to the expected standards.

    I am guessing that I took my first test in 1964 and I took my last written test on 8-4-17 and my last performance evaluation in a simulator on 9-5-17. Both tests I had to pass with an 80% to keep my license not a 65% like most high schools. So testing is a lifelong thing. Kids, you better get use to it. The test may not be as formal as my government required written test, but you can guarantee that someone is judging your work and I will take a written test over someone’s opinion anyday.

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