The popular rising against high-stakes testing grows larger every day.
In Texas, more than 500 school boards have endorsed a resolution opposing high-stakes testing.
A coalition of organizations and individuals prepared a national resolution against high-stakes testing. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals have signed it. (Please add your name.)
Florida parents are up in arms against the FCAT. Even editorial boards are beginning to see the sham perpetrated on students using tests of dubious quality.
Parent groups around the country are organizing to resist, as they see the unnecessary pressure applied to their children. The issue is personal, not theoretical. They may not have read the policy briefs, but they see their own children spending weeks preparing for the state tests, weeks in which there is no instruction, just test prep. Parents know this is wrong.
In New York City, parents are planning a public protest on June 7 at the headquarters of testing behemoth Pearson. Their immediate grievance is the field tests in June, which Pearson needs for its R&D but which steals away yet another day of instruction. But their underlying grievance is with the whole lockstep top-down regime of high-stakes testing, which distorts the meaning of education.
All of this is happening because our elected and appointed leaders are in love with accountability. For accountability, they need data. They will use the data to rank students, to rate teachers, to grade schools, and then to apply sanctions and–in rare circumstances–rewards (but there is little or no money for the rewards). Based on test scores, some teachers will be fired. Some principals will be fired. Some schools will be closed. Students will learn that they are not as good as other students. Schools will get a letter grade. Everyone will be ranked, rated, graded.
And this whole structure rests on the standardized tests.
Folks, the tests were not designed for high-stakes purposes. And they are not good enough to bear the weight now placed upon them.
The basic rule of psychometrics is this: Tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were designed.
That rule is violated every time a student is flunked, a teacher is fired, a principal is fired, or a school is closed, based on test scores.
Tests should be used to help, not to punish or reward.
So, as the title of my blog promises, I have a solution.
All of this will end if we do this one simple thing.
Insist that all policymakers, think tank gurus, academic experts, and politicians who believe so passionately in standardized tests do this:
Take the tests in reading and mathematics and publish your scores.
Do not demand for other people’s children what you are not willing to do yourself.
Take the tests and publish your scores.
Say that. Say it whenever they praise the tests. Say it whenever they impose them on your children.
And watch what happens.