Search results for: "Who benefits from all this testing"

Pearson has good lobbyists in Texas. Really really good lobbyists. A reader sent this comment:

“See page 19 TAMSA presentation: $1,178,723,689.00 funneled to Pearson in Texas for high-stakes testing nonsense since 2000.

Source: Center for Education, Rice University

Click to access 2013-01-13-tamsa_overview.pdf

Andrea Gabor has some good ideas about what the new Secretary of Education must do.

President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for education secretary, Miguel Cardona, will face a host of pandemic-related challenges that have disproportionately affected the nation’s neediest students. In addition to learning setbacks, the prolonged isolation has caused social and emotional trauma. 

The challenges will continue to mount once the Covid-19 crisis is over.

Government resources will be strained at all levels, and continued Republican control of the Senate would likely limit extra funding available for K-12 education. 

In the absence of significant support for state and local governments, beyond the money included in any year-end stimulus package, Cardona, who has been Connecticut’s education commissioner, will need to concentrate on closing funding inequities between poor and affluent school districts in order to avoid the kind of educational setbacks that followed the 2008 recession. 

Although recent data indicate that the learning losses this fall, compared with the same period last year, have not been as dire as predicted, those results likely mask high numbers of missing kids — children who lack technology for online learning or whose parents are unable to supervise their remote schooling. 

States and localities are responsible for the lion’s share of spending on public education; yet, as of 2015, only 11 states had funding formulas where high-poverty schools receive more funding per student than low-poverty schools, down from a high of 22 in 2008.

When states cut back on their share of aid during the Great Recession, school funding came to rely increasingly on local property tax revenue, benefiting districts with high property values and hurting those where the values are low. 

Though it may sound counterintuitive, an important first step the new administration can take to improve educational equity is to abandon the regimen of annual standardized tests that has dominated federal educational policy-making, especially under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 

Under the best circumstances, standardized tests do little to measure actual achievement, let alone improve it; indeed, the relentless focus on English and math in every grade from third through eighth has shortchanged the teaching of science at the elementary level as well as civics. Given the difficulty of administering tests during a pandemic, any results obtained next spring are likely to be more flawed than ever.

Eliminating or sharply curtailing standardized tests would save states as much as $1.7 billion and allow districts to reallocate resources. For perspective, that is over 4% of the $39 billion the federal government spends on K-12 education, based on 2018 figures. 

Instead, districts could administer diagnostic tests developed by local educators that provide quick feedback for teachers. (The typically long lag time on standardized test results means teachers can’t easily tailor instruction to student needs.) Testing by the National Association of Educational Progress, which is considered the nation’s report card, provides “the ideal gauge” for measuring Covid-19’s impact on students and should not be canceled; NAEP provides state-by-state comparisons and takes demographic criteria like race, income and disability into account. 

Cardona should also see to it that the Education Department rewrites the eligibility rules for supplemental federal funds that are meant for the poorest schools. These so-called Title 1 funds constitute the largest share of federal education spending. One major flaw with the Title 1 formula is that under current rules, 20% of the money meant for poor students, or about $2.6 billion, ends up in districts with a higher proportion of wealthy families (partly because large, more affluent districts often have enough poor students to qualify for the aid). Changing the funding formulas could be politically difficult if it means taking money away from better-off districts — a problem that could be mitigated by stimulus funding now being debated in Congress. 

The new stimulus bill approved by Congress calls for about $54 billion in funding for K-12 schools. The Biden Education Department should ensure that it isn’t zeroed out for other uses by the states, as Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York did with $716.9 million in education benefits from federal stimulus aid last spring. Cuomo’s cuts shredded the part of the budget that provided extra funding to districts with comparatively low tax bases.

Instead, federal money should be used to reward states that promote funding equity, as well as local desegregation efforts — ideas Biden has endorsed. States that could benefit include California, which has a 10-year blueprint to expand early childhood programs and pre-K, and Arizona, where voters just approved a ballot measure to raise money for educator salaries by taxing the state’s highest earners.

Working with other government agencies, like Health and Human Services, and rewriting Title 1 rules could help tap additional funding for community schools, turning them into hubs that provide counseling, basic medical services and food. A recent study found that providing such “wraparound services” in New York City schools, for example, increased attendance and graduation rates, as well as some test scores. 

Similarly, by working with the Federal Communications Commission and advocating for changes in telecommunications tax policy, the Education Department could help improve the internet infrastructure in vast swaths of the country, urban and rural, where well over one-quarter of children live in households without web access. Poor internet service has proved an enormous educational liability during the pandemic. Government could raise $7 billion in additional revenue for improving broadband services if it reversed the prohibition on taxing existing internet services. 

Finally, Cardona’s department can offer states matching grants to shore up community colleges, which receive far less per-pupil funding than four-year colleges, yet serve as a stepping stone to the middle class for low-income students. This will be especially important during a post-pandemic downturn when community colleges are likely to face large cuts and would provide a much more targeted boost for poor students than a broad program of forgiving college loans. 

Just before the pandemic, at least a dozen states were still financing schools at well below pre-2008 levels; student test scores and graduation rates suffered as a result. The lessons from the 2008 recession, when high-poverty districts lost $1,500 in spending per pupil, three times the loss in affluent districts, suggest that unless both the Education Department and the states distribute money more equally, the damage to poor districts will be long-lasting.

Leonie Haimson summarizes the pluses and minuses of reopening schools in New York City.

She points out:

Many public health experts and epidemiologists agree that NYC schools seem to be in the best position of any large district in the country to offer face-to-face learning, with an COVID positivity rate of only about one percent.

Our positivity rate is very low and the lowest we are likely to see until there is an effective vaccine, which could take a year or more to be developed and widely adopted. By borough, according to the state, the current positivity rates ranges from 1.3% in the Bronx, .9% in Staten Island and Brooklyn, .8% in Queens and .6% in Manhattan.

However, and this is a big however, schools should be reopened only if they can adopt rigorous safety and health protocols.

One of the biggest risks to safety right now is the poor ventilation in many NYC schools. Ventilation is a critical issue, as closed and stuffy rooms will intensify the risks of infection and virus spread. Many schools have lousy or broken ventilation systems, and/or classrooms with windows that don’t open or no windows at all, as I pointed out in this article. According to a principal survey we did ten years ago, 40% reported they had classrooms with no windows – and I doubt the situation has improved…

While many parents and teachers have been pushing for outdoor learning for safety reasons, the DOE has not provided them with any support to achieve this important goal. In fact, I have heard that some schools have said the DOE is discouraging them from providing outdoor recess or learning…

Another critical issue is the lack of testing with results fast enough to ensure that students and staff who are ill know to stay home and quarantine rather than infect others. Right now, many testing sites across the city take 5-15 days to deliver results, which is nearly useless. More and more, states are realizing that to safely reopen schools, they should adopt rapid antigen testing, which gives results within minutes and cost only $1-$2 each. Six governors from Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia have teamed up to buy large quantities of these quick testing kits, but not Governor Cuomo, for some reason.

Rather than join this consortium and help schools reopen safely, Gov. Cuomo has lambasted schools over the weekend for not having their own testing procedures in place, something they do not have the funds, the staffing or the expertise to do. Though he rightfully stepped in to help hospitals by purchasing PPE and helping to quickly expand testing sites when the COVID crisis first hit, he now acts that he has no responsibility to do the same to help and support schools in this difficult time.

Understandably, many parents are confused and ambivalent. Despite the Mayor’s spin that more than 700,000 students chose to engage in some form of in-person learning in the fall, it appears that fewer than half NYC parents registered any preference on the online survey, with 264,000 parents opting into remote learning and 131,000 blended learning. Many families seem to be waiting to see what the plan is for their schools, after which they can choose full-time remote learning at any time.

Jim Blew was hired by Betsy DeVos for a key role at the U.S Department of Education, having worked at the far-right Walton Family Foundation, which has a strong commitment to privatization, charter schools, Teach for America, and union-busting. He told education writers that the Department of Education was not likely to grant waivers for next spring’s annual federal testing, despite a year of confusion and disruption in schooling.

The American people are likely to tell Betsy DeVos and Jim Blew and the other public-school haters to pack their bags this November and clear out by January 20, 2021. Someone appointed by President Biden will decide whether to inflict the detritus of NCLB on the nation’s students. If the public votes wisely, the whole wrecking crew will be ousted, blown with the wind, so to speak.

An assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education said Friday that his agency’s inclination is not to grant states waivers from federally mandated tests for the upcoming school year like it did in the spring.

Speaking on a video call with reporters at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar, Jim Blew, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy analysis, stressed the importance of testing beyond accountability. And he expressed support for a recent statement from the Council of Chief State School Officers about the importance of assessments for learning; that July 20 statement said that “even during a pandemic” assessments “serve as an important tool in our education system.”

In March, as schools shut down in-person classes around the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos quickly granted waivers to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico from having to administer certain annual exams as required by federal law. But concerns about the pandemic’s impact on the 2020-21 school year have grown, as have sentiments in some quarters that states should get those waivers again, in order to focus on other educational needs…

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, Blew pointed to CCSSO’s statement and said that with respect to testing, “Accountability aside, we need to know where students are so we can address their needs.”

Blew then indicated it would be premature to grant waivers at this time from testing and said, “Our instinct would not be to give those waivers” from the exams, which are mandated under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the main federal K-12 law. “There are so many benefits to testing and it allows for some transparency about how schools are performing and the issues we need to address, that our instinct would be to decline those waivers,” Blew added.

Joe Biden seems to be waging a vigorous front-porch campaign.

The Washington Post reports:

WILMINGTON, Del. – Joe Biden doesn’t just want to ensure that every person in this country gets free testing for the novel coronavirus. He wants their treatment covered, too, no matter whether or how they are insured.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also calls for adding $200 per month to the checks of everyone who collects Social Security, temporarily increasing Medicaid funding by 12 percent and expanding food stamp benefits by 15 percent.

Biden, who has mostly stayed in his house here for nearly four months, will venture out Tuesday afternoon to deliver a speech at a local school on his vision for fighting the coronavirus crisis.

As infections and hospitalizations surge, and with the United States poised to surpass 125,000 confirmed covid-19 deaths as soon as today, Biden will recall how President Trump described himself as a “wartime” leader at the start of the pandemic and then accuse him of “surrendering to the virus.”

“Americans social distanced and did their part to bend the curve, but Trump didn’t lead,” Biden plans to say, according to a preview shared by aides.

Biden will argue that the need for federal outlays to contain the worst public health crisis since 1918 and the worst economic crisis since 1933 is only growing – and he wants to guarantee emergency paid leave not just for everyone who gets covid-19 but also those who care for them – “for as long as they need to recover.”

Standardized testing has been used in American schools for a century, though never on the scale of the past twenty years. It first was introduced into some schools as IQ tests, which were used (wrongly) to judge students’ innate ability and to assign them to different tracks, which then determined their life outcomes. I wrote about the IQ tests in my 2000 book “Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reforms.” The psychologists who created the tests believed that IQ was innate, inherited, and fixed. They asserted that the tests demonstrated the superiority of whites who spoke English well. Their views were welcomed and used by racists and anti-immigrant groups to support their policies. They were used to defend segregation and to restrict immigration. Their critics pointed out that the tests measured culture and life circumstances, not innate intelligence.

One of the psychologists who developed IQ tests and wrote a racist book about the results was Carl C. Brigham of Princeton. Brigham later created the prototype for the multiple-choice SAT in the 1930s, which replaced the essay-based “College Boards” in 1941.

Many schools used standardized tests in the second half of the twentieth century. Some states required periodic state tests, like the Iowa tests. No state required standardized testing every student every year until the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, based on George W. Bush’s assertion that there had been a “miracle” in Texas because of annual testing in grades 3-8.

We now know that there was never a miracle in Texas, but the every U.S. public school has been required to administer standardized tests since NCLB was signed into law on January 8, 2002.

When NCLB was re-authorized in 2015, there were demands to eliminate the testing mandate, but the Gates Foundation organized many of its recipients to insist on preserving the testing as a “civil right,” which was ironic in view of the racist and culturally biased history of standardized testing and its negative impact on marginalized groups. The new Every Student Succeeds Act preserves the annual testing. (Be it noted that every Democratic senator—including Sanders and Warren—on the Senate HELP Committee drafting the law voted in 2015 to preserve the most punitive aspects of NCLB, including the testing mandate, but the Murphy Amendment was voted down by Republicans).

Recently, Valerie Strauss wondered whether the nation’s obsession with standardized testing was ending due to the pandemic pause. While I share her enthusiasm to make the pause permanent, I know it won’t happen unless the federal law is changed. That requires sustained citizen action to counter the millions that the testing industry will certainly spend to preserve their economic interests.

She wrote:

America has been obsessed with student standardized tests for nearly 20 years. Now it looks like the country is at the beginning of the end of our high-stakes testing mania — both for K-12 “accountability” purposes and in college admissions.

When President George W. Bush signed the K-12 No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, the country began an experiment based on the belief that we could test our way to educational success and end the achievement gap. His successor, Barack Obama, ratcheted up the stakes of test scores under that same philosophy.
It didn’t work, which came as no surprise to teachers and other critics. They had long pointed to extensive research showing standardized test scores are most strongly correlated to a student’s life circumstances. Real reform, they said, means addressing students’ social and emotional needs and the conditions in which they live, and making improvements in school buildings.

Higher education was not immune to the testing frenzy, either, at least not in admissions. Scores on the SAT or ACT became an important factor in deciding who was accepted. College rankings — led by the annual lists of U.S. News & World Report, which were heavily weighted on test scores — became powerful as students relied on them and schools tried to improve their rankings with targeted reforms. Scholarship programs were linked to test scores, and some companies checked the scores of potential hires.

Florida spent millions of dollars to give bonuses to teachers with high SAT scores — even decades after the tests were taken.

Now, we are seeing the collapse of the two-decade-old bipartisan consensus among major policymakers that testing was the key lever for holding students, schools and teachers “accountable.”

And it is no coincidence that it is happening against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic that forced educational institutions to revamp how they operate.
States are learning they can live without them, having been given permission by the Department of Education to not give them this past spring. Georgia has already announced its intention to get a waiver for 2020-21, too.

A tsunami of colleges and universities have dropped the requirement for an ACT or SAT score for at least a year. The huge organizations that own the tests, ACT Inc. and the College Board, are clearly struggling in the new environment.
Even high-stakes law exams are starting to be waived. Washington state’s Supreme Court just decided to allow graduates from American Bar Association-accredited law schools who were registered to take the bar exam in July or September to be licensed without passing the test. The winning argument was that it would be too difficult for many students to study for and take the exam during the pandemic. The justices must have thought the education and grades the students received in law school were good enough.

Politically, too, the stars seem aligned for a serious de-escalation of testing. President Trump has never been a loud advocate for standardized testing and has repeatedly said his education priority is expanding alternatives to public school districts. His education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has not been a testing proponent either, with her eye instead on expanding school “choice.”

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and ahead of Trump in many polls, has tried to distance himself from the pro-testing policies of the Obama administration. He was not a cheerleader of testing during Obama’s two terms and has said recently he is opposed to high-stakes testing. That’s not a promise that he will work to reduce it, but it is a promising suggestion.

None of this means standardized testing will stop, or even that every state and district will cut back, or that all colleges and universities will stop requiring an SAT or ACT score to apply.

But here are some developments in the testing world that show that more policymakers understand tests can’t fix problems in schools — and that schools alone can’t fix the nation’s problems.

This past spring, K-12 school districts across the country did something that for nearly two decades had been deemed unthinkable.
With permission from the Education Department, they canceled annual high-stakes standardized testing after the covid-19 crisis upended the last several months of the school year.

Millions of students were at home, learning remotely either on paper or on screens. And state leaders realized it wasn’t plausible or fair to give students the tests.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) made the point that “the world will not come to an end” if the federally mandated tests weren’t given — though for years, federal and state policymakers had acted as if it would.

States require students to take standardized tests for different purposes. Some tests are mandated by K-12 law, and while that didn’t start with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), it ushered in the high-stakes testing era in which punishments were meted out to schools and teachers based on how well students performed on the exams. It didn’t matter that testing experts repeatedly warned that using scores for these purposes was not valid or reliable.

States give standardized tests, too, for reasons including third-grade retention, high school graduation, and end-of-course exams. A two-year study released in 2015 revealed that kids were being forced to take too many mandated standardized tests — and that there was no evidence that adding testing time was improving student achievement. The average student in America’s big-city public schools was then taking some 112 mandatory standardized tests between prekindergarten and the end of 12th grade — an average of about eight a year, the study said. Those were on top of teacher-written tests.

The purported goal of NCLB — written with the input of not a single public school teacher — was to ensure that marginalized communities were not ignored by looking at test scores by student subgroups and targeting help where it was needed. Schools concentrated on math and English so students could pass the exams while giving short shrift to, or eliminating, classes in history, science, art, music, physical education and other subjects.

Public education advocates hoped Obama would stop the country’s obsession with standardized tests and address inequity baked into the funding system. His administration instead heightened the importance of the test scores by dangling federal funds in front of states that agreed to evaluate teachers through the exam results. States developed cockamamie schemes to do this, including grading teachers on students they didn’t have and subjects they didn’t teach.

A grass-roots effort to get the administration to change course took hold, and some states tried to find ways to cut back on local testing. But then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan micromanaged education policy so much that the department was derided as a “national school board,” and Congress, in late 2015 — eight years after it was supposed to — passed a successor law that sent policymaking largely back to the states.

By early 2016, Obama and his second education secretary, John B. King Jr., said kids were, after all, over-tested. Still, the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), mandated the same testing regime, and states were still spending millions of dollars each year on testing programs.
Ostensibly, the tests would provide data to schools about what students had learned and how effective teachers were.

But research study after study showed that the highest correlation was between the scores and whether a child lived in poverty.
This all made DeWine’s statement about the world not coming to an end if tests were suspended for a year an unusual admission.

On June 18, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) made it clear he doesn’t think missing two years of standardized testing is a big problem, either.
This past spring, DeVos gave all states a one-year waiver to suspend the federally mandated testing. Kemp announced that his state would be the first to seek a second testing waiver from the Education Department, this time for the soon-to-start 2020-21 school year.

Other states are likely to follow suit amid so much uncertainty about the trajectory of the pandemic.
Kemp also said that the “current high-stakes testing regime is excessive,” and promised to keep pushing an initiative in the state legislature to eliminate four of eight end-of-course exams required for high school students, and another standardized test given in middle school.

Georgia isn’t the only state that is now moving to cut back on standardized testing. In late May, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation to reduce standardized testing.

What could make this effort to cut testing different from earlier ones are the outside circumstances.

Because of the pandemic, states and school districts are facing potentially unprecedented budget deficits — and school spending in some states has still not recovered from the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
Because testing programs are extremely expensive, states could decide the costs aren’t worth the dubious results. Many teachers say they don’t need standardized tests to help them assess where students are in their learning.

Add to that the effects of the national uprising for racial justice, sparked by the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.
Protesters in the streets are looking for justice not only in policing and the courts. They also want social, economic and educational justice.

Though educators have long known that students need more than tests to thrive and that schools must address more than academics, there is a new awareness among the people who make policy.
Spending mountains of money for inequitable testing accountability systems isn’t compatible with calls for more holistic ways of educating and helping students grow and thrive.

College admissions
On the higher education front, the pandemic also interrupted the SAT/ACT college admissions testing juggernaut.
With exam days canceled and aspiring college students getting frantic about not having a score to add to their applications, many colleges and universities said they would drop their requirements for an SAT or ACT test score for admission in fall 2021.

To be sure, a “test-optional” movement had been building for years. A nonprofit group called the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), which operated on a shoestring budget with a mission to end the misuse of standardized tests, worked with testing critics and compiled a list of colleges and universities that had dropped the use of ACT or SAT scores for admissions.
Hundreds of schools had already done so, as research showed the test scores were linked to socio-economic factors and not predictive of college success, despite counter statements by the College Board and ACT Inc.

Then the pandemic hit. Schools shut down and college students went home to finish their semesters virtually. The two testing giants canceled repeated administrations of their exams, losing millions of dollars and making it difficult for many students to get a score required by most institutions of higher education.

The inevitable happened: Colleges and universities announced suspensions of testing requirements for 2020-21. Some said they would not require tests for a few years as an experiment to see how the admissions process would do without them.

Then, in May, in what was called a seminal event in college admissions, the University of California system announced it would phase out SAT/ACT testing requirements over several years, with some members of the Board of Regents saying the tests were not helpful in creating diverse student bodies and one member labeling them “racist.” The prestigious system has long been a force in public higher education, and its decision is expected to influence other schools.
By mid-June, every Ivy League school had agreed to drop SAT/ACT requirements for students entering in the fall of 2020. FairTest’s list includes more than 1,250 schools that in some way allow students leeway in including test scores on their applications, albeit some of them just for 2020-21. (The list includes for-profit schools.)

The College Board and ACT have been struggling during the pandemic. Both were forced to cancel multiple administrations of the SAT and ACT, losing millions of dollars and leaving many students fearful they wouldn’t have a score for applications. Both promised they would offer at-home exams this fall if necessary, but the College Board backed off after its experiment with at-home Advanced Placement tests.
Though most students had no problem taking the AP tests, thousands did, and the College Board decided not to try an at-home SAT.

The ACT said it will go ahead, but the Iowa-based organization has other problems.
In May, ACT chief executive Marten Roorda, who aggressively lobbied against the UC decision, lost his job. At the same time, ACT announced it was taking “a series of cost-cutting measures,” including no raises and cuts in fringe benefits.

Meanwhile students trying in May to sign up for future AP and SAT exams, should they be given, ran into online trouble.

The fundamental notion that standardized testing is an effective way of gauging student achievement is being challenged more strongly than ever.
Some K-12 schools will continue to use these exams extensively, seeing them as a valuable tool, including in Florida, where former governor Jeb Bush (R) pioneered high-stakes accountability testing and still has influence in education policy.

And many colleges and universities will require admissions test scores, seeing them as a useful data point in making decisions on whom to admit.

But the combination of the pandemic, the uprising and disillusionment with the testing industry — which has been building among teachers, parents and students for years — points to a new chapter for public education, or, at least, the beginning of the end of our obsession with high-stakes standardized tests.

Alan Singer writes here about the alliances of the World Bank with the leaders of global greed.

The World Bank transmits What Pasi Sahlberg Calls GERM (the Global Education Reform Movement).

He writes:

Just because you call yourself the “World Bank” does not mean you care about the world. The bank was created after World War II by the United States and Great Britain to ensure their economic influence over countries devastated by the war and domination over former colonies.

While the World Bank claims one of its goals is to reduce global poverty, the way it goes about doing it manages to keep poor countries in perpetual debt to pay for questionable capital improvement projects and for refinancing debt they already owe to wealthy nations.

Critics of the World Bank, and there are many, include Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Peter Hardstaff of the World Development Movement, and writer Naomi Klein. Stiglitz argues that World Bank loans to developing countries emphasize quick upticks rather than long-term benefits to a country. Hardstaff claims that conditions placed on World Bank loans benefit dominant capitalist nations by ensuring that poor countries repay debts as a condition for the new loans. Klein documents specific World Bank projects that manipulate Third World countries and calls the bank’s credibility “fatally compromised.” The World Bank forced Ghana to charge public school students and their families school fees, pushed to eliminate food subsidies in war-torn Iraq, and required Tanzania to privatize its water system.

More recently, David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, questioned the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index (HCI). The bank will use the index to decide on loan applications from poor countries and it says it wants them to invest more heavily in health and education programs. HCI supposedly will measure the “human capital” that a newborn will acquire by the time it completes secondary school through an algorithm that combines the probability of survival to age five, the availability of healthcare, and levels of education determined by standardized test scores. In other words, to receive debt relief, the World Bank will force Third World countries to adopt the kind of packaged curriculum and curriculum-aligned high-stakes testing being promoted by edu-companies like Pearson.

Edwards has three key complaints about the World Bank’s HCI. First, he objects to education being treated as a capital investment rather than as a human right. For Edwards and Education International, “Merely churning out workers for the capitalist economy is not the purpose and value of education.” It should be about achieving a “more just, peaceful and sustainable world.”

Second, Edwards questions the need for another metric for measuring poverty. The HCI is a device for promoting the World Bank and demonstrating its concern for the poor, rather than something that will actually help poor nations.

Edwards’ third point is something that directly concerns parents and teachers in the United States where students are battered by high-stakes standardized assessments that turn schools into test prep academies. The HCI ranks countries “based solely on admittedly imperfect test-scores.” Edwards charges that the World Bank’s ability to use loans to dictate government policy will mean that instead of strengthening education systems, HCI ratings will encourage “teaching to the test and a narrowed curriculum.”

Waiting in the wings to benefit from the World Bank HCI loans are corporate vultures like British-based Pearson Education. Pearson is targeting what it euphemistically calls “emerging markets” as its textbook and testing business in North America reports multi-year declining profits. Egypt is currently seeking a large funding package, estimated at $2 billion, from the World Bank to finance their latest educational reform strategy. No surprise, Pearson is in line to provide the hardware, infrastructure, and training for the “reforms” new digital testing system and a “bank” of exam questions.

At last, a gubernatorial candidate who wants to rebuild public education and throw out the profiteers, frauds, and grifters! Voters in Florida have a chance to clean the Augean stables and elect a great Governor for public education!

The Network for Public Educatuon Action Fund is thrilled to endorse Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida!

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to announce its endorsement of Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida.

Andrew Gillum is a strong supporter of public education and he calls Florida’s corporate school reforms “a failure.” He has proposed a $1 billion increase in funding for public schools, which would include a minimum starting salary of $50,000 for teachers and an expansion of Pre-K opportunities.
Mr. Gillum believes that high-stakes testing reforms have failed our students and schools.

When it comes to charter schools and vouchers, Andrew Gillum had the following to say:

“Charter schools have a record of waste and unaccountability that we would never tolerate from public schools. Yet, our state’s education budget continues rewarding charter schools at the expense of public schools; for example, the 2018-19 budget allocates $145 million to charter school maintenance — three times the amount allocated to public schools. As a product of Florida’s public schools, I believe we make a promise to our state’s children to provide high-quality, accessible, public schools. We weaken that promise every time we divert taxpayer funds into private and religious education that benefits some students, but not all.”

On November 6, please cast your vote for Andrew Gillum.

Andy Hargreaves recently retired as a professor at Boston College. In this article, which appeared in the Toronto Star as part of a debate, he advises Canada to abandon mandatory testing. Canada tests every student in grades 3 and 6.

If you open the article, you can vote for or against mandatory testing.

Don’t you wish our students were tested only in grades 3 and 6?

He writes:

“Finland uses samples. Israel samples a different subject every year in three-year cycles. Provinces and countries are already compared by samples on national and international assessments. Streamline the work of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) around samples and this government will meet its accountability requirements and also save a big chunk of more than $130 million over four years that can go straight into the classroom.

“Bigger data is no substitute for better leadership. Some experts believe sampling makes it hard to pinpoint problems in small sub-groups in a school or board, like equitable achievement for a particular ethnic minority. Statisticians have an answer for this – that you can vary the nature or size of the sample to include and protect these groups. But an even better answer is that when subgroups get very tiny in small schools or boards, we don’t need more data about everybody. We just need better feedback from and relationships with the people right in front of us.

“The side effects outweigh the benefits. If you have an illness and try some drugs to ease it, you don’t want the negative side effects to outweigh the benefits. The negative side effects of testing a whole population in any grade are immense. Test results are known to the media and to real estate agents. Some school board administrators put excessive pressure on their schools and teachers in high-poverty areas to hit the numbers. Principals will then do almost anything to get the scores up. The stakes and stress are incredibly high.”


To my knowledge, the United States is the only nation in the world that requires students to take standardized tests every year from grades 3-8. I believe that it is surely the only advanced nation that requires annual testing in these grades. The tests are required by federal law, a hangover from George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, and the requirement was re-enacted in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.

This testing regime has been in place since 2002, when the law was signed by President Bush the first. The consequences attached to the tests have been harsh in many states, which use them to stigmatize students, teachers, and schools. Teachers have been fired, and schools have been closed based on test scores. That is called test-based accountability, and there is growing evidence that TBA is ineffective. NAEP scores have been flat since 2013. The number of people entering teaching has declined sharply. Schools have cut back on the arts, physical education, and other subjects that are not “counted” in the test score calculus. It is difficult to find any real benefits to our national investment in high-stakes testing.

Why do our policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels continue to require and enforce annual testing, despite the non-existent benefits? I believe that testing survives for two reasons: One is that there is a lobby that loves testing, composed of testing corporations and groups like Democrats for Education Reform, the hedge fund managers organization. The other is that our policymakers are still inhaling the stale fumes of NCLB and the non-existent “Texas Miracle.” It is hard to break away from a practice, even a bad practice, that has become ingrained. Annual testing began with NCLB, became more punitive with Race to the Top, and survived in ESSA. Bad habits are hard to change.

Testing authorities have a general rule. Tests should not be used for any purpose other than the one for which they are intended. Tests are supposed to be diagnostic; they are supposed to provide teachers with information to help them improve instruction. They never do, because the results are reported long after the student has left the teacher who administered the test and they never provide enough detail about the strengths and weaknesses of individual children to be useful.

Standardized tests should not be used for high school graduation or for firing teachers or closing schools. Yet they are. Obviously, they are misused on a regular basis.

So, I have a modest proposal.

I am not aware of any legal requirement that the annual tests required by Congress must be offered in the spring.

Why not give the tests in the first week of school and use only a test whose results may be returned within a month? Let machines score the standardized questions, and let teachers score the constructed responses. The testing vendor would know that they would be chosen only if they could report the results in a month, in a format that informs teachers what students do and do not know. That way, the teacher can find out where students are as they begin the year and tailor instruction to address the needs of the students.

That way, tests would no longer be high-stakes. They would be expressly designed for diagnostic purposes, to help teachers help students. The results would come too early to misuse the tests to stigmatize students, punish teachers, and close schools. There would be no punishments attached to the tests, but plenty of valuable information to help teachers.

How would we know how schools are doing?

We could rely on the National Assessment of Progress, which reports on states and many districts and is disaggregated by race, gender, disability, and other categories. It reports on achievement gaps as well.

With this fairly simple but drastic change, we could put testing in its proper place. We could stop terrorizing students and teachers.

We could let teachers gain at least a month, maybe two, for instruction instead of test prep.

Tell me what you think.

Some of you, I know, will tell me why all testing is a waste of time.

But so long as the requirement for annual testing is in the law, there must be a good faith effort to comply.

Why not comply in a way that is not harmful to students, teachers, or schools, but that might actually provide useful information?