Alyson Klein of Education Week reports that the powerful in Congress are beginning to hear the massive discontent of parent, educators, and local school boards about the excessive testing imposed on the schools by No Child Left Behind, and multiplied by Race to the Top. Some districts are developing standardized tests for pre-tests and post-tests. Some are creating standardized tests for pre-schoolers. Since most of the testing is going to be online, the tech industry is beside itself with joy. The testing industry is clapping its hands with delight. But parents are furious. They don’t see why their children spend so many hours taking tests. They don’t understand why their schools have cut back on teachers of the arts and on librarians and nurses, all to fund the new testing. Teachers rail against the loss of instructional time to testing mandates, which then require periodic assessments and test prep.

 

It is amusing that the article finds only one defender of the regime of nonstop annual testing: Sandy Kress, who was not only the architect of No Child Left Behind but is a paid lobbyist in Texas for Pearson whose nearly $500 million contract is being reviewed now.

 

My view: how about a 5-year moratorium on standardized testing, except for diagnostic testing that has no stakes for students or teachers? Let’s find out what it feels like to have standardized-test-free zones in schools. Let’s find out what happens when teachers write their own tests, based on what they taught. Let’s follow the example of Exeter, Andover, Lakeside Academy, Sidwell Friends, and other great schools where standardized testing is kept to a bare minimum if  used at all. Dream, imagine a better world, make it happen.

 

How can we make it happen sooner? Opt out. Don’t let your children take the tests. Let them take as many tests as they give at Lakeside Academy and Sidwell Friends. No more.