This is a story that may elicit a gasp from you. That’s what it did to me. Arne Duncan was asked about the breakdown of the computer assessments in Indiana. He responded with a brief soliloquy on how businesses fail and succeed, and why we cannot go back to the olden days of pencil and paper (which no one suggested). Be sure to read the excellent comments that follow the linked articles.

And ask yourself what happens if and when hackers tamper with the tests and the scores.

A reader sent this not-to-be-missed article:

This is our education CEO speaking on the fact that kids in Indiana are on Week Two of a frustrating, time-wasting adventure in standardized testing:

“We should have competition. We should be transparent — I don’t know who that company is, I don’t want to pre-judge — but if that company can’t deliver, there’s an opportuntiy for someone else to come in and do something very, very different… We should not have one problem and then say we should go all the way back to pencil and paper, that doesn’t make sense to me.

This is a business. Folks are making money to buy these service. If those folks are doing a good job to provide that service, they should get more business. If they’re doing a bad job providing that service, they should go out of business…
We’ll get better and better. I do think, directionally, this is the right way to go. We have multiple players playing in these space… Let’s see who’s for real. But again, directionally, having computer-adaptive tests, having the ability to evaluate way more than just fill-in-the-bubble stuff — the critical thinking skills — directionally, it’s the right way to go.”

I am so, so tired of this CEO-speak. I really need Arne Duncan to tell me testing companies are “a business”? Kids are taking these tests. They aren’t his employees.

It’s also dishonest. It’s a rhetorical tactic. No one was suggesting that we “go back to paper and pencil”. His response to every question on this testing regime is to portray his critics as Luddites who don’t understand the “21st century.” It’s a way to shut down critics and it isn’t a response offered in good faith.