Marc Tucker posted two incredibly important articles about testing, from an international perspective.

First, no high performing nation in the world tests every child every year.

Second, taking a standardized test every year is not a civil right and does nothing to close the achievement gap.

Children don’t get smarter because they are tested more often.

Standardized testing is normed on a bell curve. The bottom half of the bell curve has a disproportionate number of children who live in poverty, children who don’t read or speak English, and children with disabilities. The top half has a disproportionate number of children who grow up in stable, secure homes.

The bell curve never closes. It is built into the standardized test. Test makers know in advance how each question will “perform.” The test is designed to produce a bell curve.

The standardized test assesses whether children know the skills and content that are tested. Teacher-made tests assess whether children have learned what they were taught. As we know from Howard Gardner’s work, children have many different abilities; they may not be good at test-taking, but they may be wonderful at making things, doing things, building things, figuring things out, creating things, inventing things.

When Tucker wrote that annual testing did not promote civil rights or narrow achievement gaps, he set off a firestorm of criticism from the reformers (see here and here).

He had evidence on his side. They had ideology. They were wrong. If we hang on to testing and privatization as our weapons to create equity, we will never get there. These are the strategies of the 1% meant to avoid paying a fair share of their vast wealth to close the income inequality gap.