A reader comments, with more wisdom than anything now coming from the U.S. Department of Education. He also explains how to end the reign of error:
The flawed testing approach continues to be pushed without debate because open honest discussion, involving true experts in the fields of child development, education (and ed-research), and valid data gathering/application would reveal painful truths for those behind the brand of reform we are seeing.
Truth1: Increasing the amount of tests as a means of finding and firing bad teachers is a perversion of assessment in education. Assessments are tools for teachers to use in shaping instruction for their students’ individual needs, which vary between students and can change year to year. Once well-funded and empowered, schools identified and addressed these varying needs. Schools have been attacked and de-funded over time, leaving them less able to address the range of needs students have. As the economy has further crippled average families, students come to school with more challenges, the attack on schools and the teaching profession has intensified.The intention of “reformers” to use assessment to attack the profession instead of inform it is undeniable as teacher evals are based mostly on the test results-despite the fact that the brand new CCL standards haven’t been fully integrated with curriculum and the tests being used haven’t even reached final phase of development. Yet the identifying “bad” teachers using this amorphous data has been priority. Truth number one is that reform isn’t really about valid improvements to the education of children. It’s about: 1) control and redirection of public funds, 2) profits for a testing/charter industry that dominates the reform narrative, 3) intimidation of a profession with a long history of middle class empowerment and political activism.
Truth 2: The focus on schools and teachers as the source of educational ills is treating a symptom, not curing the disease. This isn’t a result of misguided naivete or ignorance, it is intentional. There is plenty of data linking economic hardship to family insecurity and disruption to lack of “school readiness” to final educational outcomes. Schools and teachers can work hard to maximize potential and help students surpass obstacles that might otherwise hold them back, but what if policymakers continue creating more obstacles? Well, they ARE creating those obstacles, and they know it. Unfortunately, as policymakers they currently have the power to not only create the obstacles-they also have the power to divert attention and shift the blame.
Truth number 3 is we need to take back our democracy. We can no longer be afraid to be politically active within our schools if we have to protect our students. We need to be heard, we need to vote, and we need as many doing it as we can possibly get.