Greg Taranto, principal of Canonsburg Middle School, was named was named 2012 Middle Level Principal of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals.
He now joins our Honor Roll for his courage in speaking up for students and good education.
Taranto says that testing is out of control, it is absurdly expensive, draining resources from schools, and of course he is right. Everyone seems to know it except our legislators in the statehouses and Congress. Parents know it. Teachers and administrations like Taranto know it. Students know it.
We no longer have schools devoted to development of every child’s full human potential, but devoted instead to ever higher scores on standardized tests. How did the testing industry manage to capture the minds and hearts of our policymakers? Don’t they realize that tests are useful for diagnostic purposes, but they are not the goal of education. They are a measure, they are not a replacement for instruction.
Testing makes a lot of money for education companies. Here in Pennsylvania in 2013 we paid more than $200 million to the company responsible for the development of the Keystone exams — tests aligned with the Common Core curriculum (known as PA Core in Pennsylvania). Our state legislators just approved another five “optional” Keystones in the coming years. Can you imagine the cost to taxpayers?
Unfortunately, the many-headed hydra of standardized testing is not like the mythical creatures made by my seventh graders. It is real. And we need real heroes to slay the beast.
Parents and educators must start speaking out and talking to our school districts, school boards and state and federal legislators. State and federal legislators are especially important, because they are the ones mandating tests such as the PSSA and the Keystones and thus tying the hands of district officials and school boards.
Some groups already engaged in this fight include Education Voters PA, Yinzercation, PA Against the Common Core, the Network for Public Education and Fairtest.org.
Do you think testing has gotten out of control? Please become a hero in the fight against this many-headed hydra. We need more ordinary heroes — people like you and me — to wrest control of our kids’ education away from the testing beast and to restore educational agency to parents, teachers and principals.