A parent in Texas wrote to say that she couldn’t understand why the state was paying Pearson $100 million a year while laying off teachers. She’s right. This is crazy. She pointed out that in addition to the direct cost of the state testing, schools and districts now had to pay people whose sole job is the care and feeding of the testing monster. One district is hiring a testing coordinator for each of its five high schools, More money diverted from the classroom. At the same time the cost of testing grows, the budget for public education shrinks.
She sent me this article from an Austin newspaper: http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/austin/educators-parents-fight-testing-system. Sandy Kress, who was the architect of NCLB and is now a lobbyist for Pearson, strongly defended the testing system, saying that young people would be closed out of good jobs if they didn’t take all those tests.
Now, be it noted that this claim is utterly false. Students in independent schools (such as the one that Kress’ own children attend) do not take all those tests and they presumably will not be shut out of the good jobs in the future. http://jasonstanford.org/2012/05/the-lone-staar-rebellion/
Furthermore, there is no reason to assert that taking state tests prepares anyone for good jobs in the future. Where is the logical connection? How does testing prepare you to get a better job? The testing regime now in force penalizes students who exhibit imagination or divergent thinking. Entire generations of Americans have gotten good jobs without being subjected to test prep and annual high-stakes testing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2009/11/art5full.pdf, p. 88), most new jobs will not require a college degree.
And where is the evidence that taking all those state tests is the best way to prepare for college? Again, none of the children who attend elite independent schools take those tests and they seem to have a high rate of success in gaining admission to selective colleges and universities.
Really, the test salespeople and lobbyists for the testing industry have sold the American people a bill of goods. Either we buy their product, and more of it, and pay them for prep materials, and pay them for test security, and pay test coordinators, or no one will get a good job in the future.
Don’t believe it.