Archives for category: Students

Peter Greene notes the emergence of a new narrative among “reformers”: Whereas schools have long been failing kids, now the kids themselves are failures because of the epidemic of “learning loss.”

As usual, the disaster experts blame teachers, but now they say the kids are failures too.

But the other part of chicken littling about education is the constant declaration that Kids These Days suck. They can’t read or write. They aren’t ready to hold down a job. And like many other negative trends in education, this has only gotten worse during the pandemic. Now it’s not just that Kids These Days can’t read and write and math–numerous companies are telling anyone who will listen about the terrible threat of learning loss, and how all of America’s children are slowly backsliding, the “days of learning” dribbling out of their ears like meltwater sluicing off a snow-covered roof. They’re getting stupider and stupider by the day. They are a lost generation...

In the rush to indict the public school system, the teachers, the unions, some people have turned students into collateral damage, forcing them to live in a world of adults who are constantly broadcasting that Kids These Days are awful failures. And right now, as always, they are directing the worst of it at the students who already get the worst of it–Black, brown, poor. 

Today Chalkbeat is carrying a piece by teacher Selena Carrion that everyone should read– “Stop calling this generation ‘lost.’ It’s hurtful–and it’s wrong.” Carrion’s experience allows her to remember how to keep her eye on the ball:All this reminds me not to allow a deficit-oriented “lost generation” narrative to deny them their success. As educators, let’s think about their triumphs and how they are still finding joy and wonder amid chaos.

What would happen, I wonder, if the consultants from NWEA and McKinsey, rather than releasing white papers and “research” and talking to other folks in the education biz had to go stand in front of the actual young human beings and explain to those students that they are falling behind and getting dumber by the minute and are generally failing. What if they had to look into those students’ eyes while saying, in effect, “We do not believe in you.” 

Here is where market-based philosophy clashes with actual education. You market products by creating a compelling case for a desperate need. “Terrible things are happening,” a campaign screams, “and you need to hire us and buy our product if you want to survive, because without us you are not enough.” But you teach students by first believing in them, by assuring them that they are enough. You can’t have disaster capitalism without a disaster. You can’t teach students by telling them that they are a disaster.

It’s been a hard year for everyone: kids, teachers, parents. The kids need someone who believes in them, rather than looking at them as suffering from a social construct called ”learning loss.”

I am getting dizzy from the whipsawing of information and advice about whether, when, and how schools should reopen. They were open in Europe, and we envied Europe; then they were closed in Europe. Schools open, then close, then open again. I am not a scientist so I offer no advice. The scientists agree that schools can open safely if they observe the medical protocols. If I were a teacher, I would want to be vaccinated first, but that is not what the scientists say here. Teachers are in an enclosed space with students most of the day; they are essential workers. Why not prioritize them for vaccination?

This story appeared in the New York Times:

Many of the common preconditions to opening schools — including vaccines for teachers or students, and low rates of infection in the community — are not necessary to safely teach children in person, a consensus of pediatric infectious disease experts said in a new survey.

Instead, the 175 experts — mostly pediatricians focused on public health — largely agreed that it was safe enough for schools to be open to elementary students for full-time and in-person instruction now. Some said that was true even in communities where Covid-19 infections were widespread, as long as basic safety measures were taken. Most important, they said, were universal masking, physical distancing, adequate ventilation and avoidance of large group activities.

The experts were surveyed by The New York Times in the last week. Depending on various metrics, between 48 percent and 72 percent say the extent of virus spread in a community is not an important indicator of whether schools should be open, even though many districts still rely on those metrics. Schools should close only when there are Covid-19 cases in the school itself, most said.

“There is no situation in which schools can’t be open unless they have evidence of in-school transmission,” said Dr. David Rosen, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Washington University in St. Louis.

The risks of being out of school were far greater, many of the experts said. “The mental health crisis caused by school closing will be a worse pandemic than Covid,” said Dr. Uzma Hasan, division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at RWJBarnabas Health in New Jersey.

For the most part, these responses match current federal guidance, which does not mention vaccines, and reflect significant scientific evidence that schools are not a major source of spread for children or adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release new recommendations Friday on how schools can safely operate, and the Biden administration has prioritized opening schools.

But the expert consensus in the survey is at odds with the position of certain policymakers, school administrators, parent groups and teachers’ unions. Some in these groups have indicated that they do not want to return to school buildings even next fall, when it’s likely that teachers will be able to be vaccinated, though not most students. Some districts have faced fierce resistance to reopening, particularly in large cities, where teachers have threatened to strike if they are called back to school buildings.

A return to in-person school this week in Chicago, where disagreement between elected officials and the teachers’ union over reopening has been particularly intense.
A return to in-person school this week in Chicago, where disagreement between elected officials and the teachers’ union over reopening has been particularly intense.Credit…Taylor Glascock for The New York Times

And some experts concurred that open schools pose risks, particularly to the adults working there, and said that many parts of the country had not yet controlled the virus enough to safely open.

“Just because school opening isn’t causing higher levels of community transmission doesn’t mean that there isn’t individual risk to teachers and staff,” said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and a visiting professor of health policy at George Washington University. “If we had wanted schools to safely reopen, we should have worked hard as a society to keep transmission rates down and to invest resources in schools.”

About half of the nation’s students are still learning from home, and while a majority of districts are offering at least some in-person learning and more are trying to reopen this spring, many are offering students just a few hours a day or a few days a week.

The mismatch between the experts’ preferred policies and the rules governing school opening in many districts reflects political considerations and union demands, but also changes in scientists’ understanding of the virus. Many school policies were developed months ago, before growing evidence that Covid-19 does not spread easily in schools that adopt basic safety precautions. The guidance could change again, they cautioned: Nearly all expressed some concern that new coronavirus variants could disrupt schools’ plans to be open this spring or fall.

More than two-thirds of the respondents said they had school-aged children, and half had children in school at least some of the time. Over all, they were more likely than not to support their own schools being open. About 85 percent of those in communities where schools were open full time said their district had made the right call, while just one-third of those in places where schools were still closed said that had been the right choice.

The point of most agreement was requiring masks for everyone. All the respondents said it was important, and many said it was a simple solution that made the need for other preconditions to opening less essential.

“What works in health care, masks, will work in schools,” said Dr. Danielle Zerr, a professor and the division chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Washington. “Kids are good at wearing masks!”

Half the panel said a complete return to school with no precautions — no masks, full classrooms and all activities restored — would require that all adults and children in the community have access to vaccination. (Vaccines haven’t been tested yet in children and most likely won’t be available until 2022.)

But not everyone agreed that younger children needed to be vaccinated to return to pre-pandemic school life. One-fifth said a full reopening without precautions could happen once adults in the community and high school students were vaccinated, and 12 percent said it could happen once vaccines were available to all adults in the community.

The experts also questioned another strategy used by many districts that are open or plan to open this spring: opening part time, for small and fixed cohorts of students who attend on alternating schedules to decrease class size and maximize distance between people. Only one-third said it was very important for schools to do this, though three-quarters said students should be six feet from one another some or all of the time. Three-quarters said schools should avoid crowds, like in hallways or cafeterias.

Limiting time in school increased other risks, some said, like impeding children’s social development, disrupting family routines and increasing the chance of children’s exposure to a bigger group of people out of school.

The experts expressed deep concern about other risks to students of staying home, including depression, hunger, anxiety, isolation and learning loss.

“Children’s learning and emotional and, in some cases, physical health is being severely impacted by being out of school,” said Dr. Lisa Abuogi, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the University of Colorado, expressing her personal view. “I spend part of my clinical time in the E.R., and the amount of mental distress we are seeing in children related to schools is off the charts.”

The survey respondents came from the membership lists of three groups: the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Decision Sciences for Child Health Collaborative and the American Academy of Pediatrics subspecialty group on epidemiology, public health and evidence. Some individual scientists also responded. Nearly all were physicians, and more than a quarter of them had degrees in epidemiology or public health as well. Most worked in academia and about a quarter in clinical settings, and most said their daily work was closely related to the pandemic.

Though their expertise is in children’s health, they cited evidence that with masks and other precautions, in-school transmission was very low, including from children to adults.

“I completely understand teachers’ and other school employees’ fear about returning to school, but there are now many well-conducted scientific studies showing that it is safe for schools to reopen with appropriate precautions, even without vaccination,” said Dr. Rebecca Same, an assistant professor in pediatric infectious disease at Washington University in St. Louis. “They are much more likely to get infected from the outside community and from family members than from school contacts.”

The survey asked experts about various strategies that schools are using to keep students and staff safe. The experts said many such measures would have some merit, but identified two as most important: mask wearing and distancing.

Other widely adopted measures — like frequent disinfection of buildings and surfaces, temperature checks or the use of plexiglass dividers — were viewed as less important. One-quarter said routine surveillance testing of students and staff was very important for schools to open.

“Masks are key,” Dr. Noble said. “Other interventions create a false sense of assurance.”

Many states have tied openings to measures of community spread in the school’s county, like test positivity rates, the rate of new infections or the rate of hospitalizations. But 80 percent of the experts said school districts should not base reopening decisions on infection data in the county at large; they should focus on virus cases inside the school.

Many districts have opened or are considering opening for younger students before older ones. Research has found that for children around adolescence, infection and spread become more similar to that of adults. The Biden administration has shaped its reopening plans around students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Just over half of pediatric infectious disease experts said fifth grade should be the cutoff, if schools are partly opened. Just 17 percent said eighth grade should be. But despite high school students’ greater risk, many lamented the long-term effects of a year of extreme isolation on teenagers.

Although these experts specialized in children’s physical health, many concluded that the risks to mental health, social skills and education outweighed the risks of the virus. Students’ future opportunities, said Dr. Susan Lipton, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, are “torpedoed without the best academics, interaction with inspiring teachers who become mentors, clubs, sports and other ways to shine.”

“This is devastating a generation,” she said.Schoolchildren Seem Unlikely to Fuel Coronavirus Surges, Scientists SayOct. 22, 2020How 700 Epidemiologists Are Living Now, and What They Think Is NextDec. 4, 2020Monitoring the Coronavirus Outbreak in Metro Areas Across the U.S.

Claire Cain Miller writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot. She joined The Times in 2008 and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @clairecm • Facebook

Margot Sanger-Katz is a domestic correspondent and writes about health care for The Upshot. She was previously a reporter at National Journal and The Concord Monitor and an editor at Legal Affairs and the Yale Alumni Magazine. @sangerkatz • Facebook

Kevin Quealy is a graphics editor and reporter. He writes and makes charts for The Upshot about a range of topics, including sports, politics, health care and income inequality. @KevinQ

Edutopia reports on new research by Professor C. Kirabo Jackson of Northwestern University, who finds that a “good school” does much more than raise test scores.

In a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, C. Kirabo Jackson, a professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University, and his colleagues found that schools with robust impacts on student well-being may be helping students in ways that aren’t picked up by standardized tests. These schools may not have the highest test scores, but they’re the most likely to motivate students to graduate and attend college, especially those students who are less likely to do so in the first place.

“Test scores aren’t everything, and schools that promote socio-emotional development actually have a really big positive impact on kids,” Jackson told me. “And these impacts are particularly large for vulnerable student populations who don’t tend to do very well in the education system.”

This is the latest in a series of studies examining the broad impact that teachers and schools have on students. Jackson’s previous research looked at the impact that teachers had on noncognitive skills such as self-regulation, and found that teachers who improved these skills improved their students’ long-term outcomes, boosting not only grades, but also attendance and high school graduation rates. The skills that are valuable for future success aren’t usually measured on tests, Jackson points out. So while teachers and schools are often evaluated by their ability to improve students’ test scores, broader measures should be used.

In the current study, Jackson and his colleagues looked at over 150,000 ninth-grade students who attended Chicago public schools between 2011 and 2017, analyzing test scores and administrative records. They also examined responses on an annual survey students completed on social and emotional development and school climate. The survey covered a range of topics, including peer relationships, students’ sense of belonging, how hard they studied for tests, and how interested they were in the topics they were studying. The data were then combined into a three-part index: one that included test scores and other academic outcomes, a “social well-being” index, and a “work habits” index.

Jackson’s team found that schools that scored high on the latter two indices—those that promoted social and emotional development—were also the most effective at supporting long-term student success. In these schools, there were fewer absences, and more students graduated and went on to college. And perhaps more importantly, the benefits were greatest for student populations who struggled the most in school.

I think you will enjoy watching this spirited discussion between me and Karen Lewis at the annual NPE conference in Chicago in 2015. I spoke more than she did because I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her. She had already suffered her devastating brain tumor and was undergoing treatment, but as you will see, she has lost none of her sharp wit and edginess.

By now, you have read many tributes to Karen Lewis. She was an icon who fought the powerful. Teachers and parents trusted her because they knew she would never sell them out.

This is a beautiful tribute to Karen by Sarah Karp, one of Chicago’s most experienced education journalists. It captures Karen’s brashness, her fearlessness, her passion.

Some of her colorful quotes:

Lewis’ message resonated because she was willing to stand up for teachers at a time when teachers were under attack and somewhat downtrodden. She unapologetically labeled people as villains and enemies if she thought they disrespected public school teachers and public education.

Chief among them was former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Early on in her tenure as union president, she emerged from a meeting with Emanuel and revealed he had sworn at her. This came after she called the longer school day he was pushing a “babysitting” initiative.

“He jumped out of his chair and said, F-you Lewis,” she recalled. “And I jumped out of my chair and said, who the F do you think you are talking to? I don’t work for you.”

She called Rahm “the murder mayor.”

“Look at the murder rate in this city. He’s murdering schools. He’s murdering jobs. He’s murdering housing. I don’t know what else to call him. He’s the murder mayor,” she said during the school closing fight.

And she once told a group of community and business leaders that then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, who for years held up the passage of a state budget until his agenda was approved, was a new “ISIS recruit … because the things he’s doing look like acts of terror on poor and working-class people,” she said.

A teacher in California, who must remain anonymous to protect her job, wrote this post. CAASP testing is the Common Core test produced by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

“We are 100% virtual, and teachers just had to sign an affidavit regarding CAASPP testing. I cannot believe they are STILL going forward with this. They expect that kids will 1) be in a quiet place with no distractions, 2) have their cameras on at all times, 3) not be using any other materials except pencil/paper, 4) that kids will have earbuds/headphones so they can hear the audio portion, 5) that kids won’t talk about the test content with ANYBODY.

And then, teachers are 1) supposed to simultaneously monitor 20+ students’ cameras and computer screens, 2) write down every time a student looks away or commits some other infraction, 3) keep every kid from unmuting their microphones (impossible).

I have students who stagger their time on chromebooks because of limited Wi-Fi, students who are self-conscious and terrified to have their cameras on, students who have multiple siblings all trying to do virtual meetings at once, students who literally hide in the bathroom so they can concentrate on my teaching (until they are kicked out 10 minutes later), students who are home alone at 8-10 years old, and I could go on. How is this EQUITABLE? How will the results be ACCURATE? I just cannot understand the rationale behind going forward with CAASPP testing. Oh, and 99% of our student body has to take the CAASPP in order for our results to be valid. Do you think that is going to happen? I am not being negative; I’m being realistic. I am praying that the decision makers will come to realize how ridiculous it is to try and do this test virtually.”

The teacher who forwarded this post added this thought:

This is where we are in CA right now despite CTA’s push to cancel the test, everything is moving forward. I just finished two weeks of MAP testing, 200 students from my school of 1200 did not finish and yet they think we are going to do the SBAC test which is four times longer.

David Berliner and Sharon Nichols wrote this opinion article for the San Antonio Express-News. The headline: “STAAR Outcome Obvious; Test Is a Waste of $90 Million.” Nichols is a professor at the University of Texas in San Antonio and Berliner is an emeritus professor at Arizona State University.

They write:

Published in the San-Antonio Express-News, Wednesday 2/3/2021

STOP THE STAAR TESTING—TEXAS’S STANDARDIZED ACHIEVEMENT TEST

Sharon L. Nichols is professor and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas, San Antonio. David C. Berliner is Regents’ Professor Emeritus at the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at Arizona State University.

The Texas Education Agency is submitting a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education seeking to pause the A-F school grading process this year. This is good. Continuing the charade of grading schools on the social-class makeup of their students has always been unethical. That is because “who” attends the schools is the overwhelming determinant of the standardized test scores on which school grades are based. So, calling schools “A” or “D, “good” or “bad,” without visiting schools and evaluating staff and the quality of instruction that kids get is unintelligible—if not simply mean. 

However, according to the waiver notice put out by the TEA, we should still make students take the annual STAAR test this year because “it remains critical that parents, educators, and policymakers understand the impact of the pandemic on student learning.”

This is absurd. Let’s just admit kids have fallen behind in learning the standard curriculum. Most of us are sure that is the case. But we have no way of estimating what they might have learned from time at home: cooking, gardening, playing educational games, practicing instruments, tutoring siblings, reading on their own, etc. They weren’t all watching cartoons! 

It costs Texans $90 million to test students every year. Why would we want to spend $90 million of taxpayer money on an endeavor that will yield information Texas already has. Data from other states’ testing programs inform us that year-to-year school scores are correlated so high, that if state testing were to be suspended for one or two years, there would be hardly any change in what was learned about a schools’ performance and its relative rank among the state’s schools. Texas already has 2019 test scores. So, if you give the test this year, you will spend $90 million only to learn something already known. Surely such money could be used for some other educational needs. 

Furthermore, if you want to know how the students are doing vis-á-vis the desired school curriculum, ask a teacher. Studies show they can predict the rank order of their students on the state’s test amazingly well. 

Another important reason for not testing this year is that content coverage by students has been uneven. Some kids took to remote learning, some didn’t; some kids had an adequate computer and a reliable Wi-Fi signal, but some did not. Some had a parent at home working with them, some did not. Some grappled with COVID-19 directly having to cope with sick family members, some did not.

We know that depression rates skyrocketed over the past year, with three times as many Americans meeting criteria for depression during the pandemic. We have no idea how this has affected millions of school-aged children. So, if the Texas curriculum for, say, 5th grade mathematics or language arts was not taught fully, or not received by every child, the test is patently invalid. That is because the test designers assume all kids have had an equal chance at exposure to the content of a state’s required curriculum. 

If that assumption has clearly not been met, as in the 2019-2020 school year and now the 2020-2021 school year, the test scores obtained are prima facie uninterpretable. Furthermore, to use such a test for any consequential decision-making is in violation of the code of ethics of the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education. Consequential decisions made on the basis of those invalid tests are easily and rightfully challenged in court. STAAR data for 2021 are tainted. 

So, do we really want to spend $90 million dollars of our education budget on standardized achievement tests when it is clear students need new curriculum to discern facts from lies; when they need to deal with history and contemporary issues related to racism, sexism, social class differentiation, and climate change; or when they need to learn the rights and obligations of citizenship in our state and nation? Surely, in Texas, there are better ways to use $90 million dollars.

In 2015, I wrote about a group of high school students in Houston who sued the state for underfunding public schools. Valerie Strauss wrote about them too. She wrote: ““The two students who filed the brief on behalf of the HISD Student Congress, an organization that represents about 215,000 students in the district, are Zaakir Tameez, a member of the 2015 class of Carnegie Vanguard High School, and Amy Fan, a member of the 2016 class of Bellaire High School.”

I have always believed that students have more power than they know and they need to speak up about their education.

The two young people who founded the HISD Student Congress–Tameez and Fan–filed an excellent brief, but their appeal on behalf of underfunded school districts was rejected 9-0 by the Texas Supreme Court, which is elected statewide and consists of Republicans. The court complimented the students on their brief on page 24 of the ruling, footnote 100:  “High school students Zaakir Tameez and Amy Fan, with the help of other students, have filed an excellent amicus brief.”

These are remarkable young people, our hope for the future.

After graduating from HISD, Amy Fan went to Duke University, where she graduated in 2020. She returned to Houston and is now the official advisor to HISD StuCon. She helped co-found a local civic engagement collective with other HISD StuCon alumni called Institute of Engagement. They just launched Shift Press, an online publication for Houston youth to tell their stories. 

Zaakir Tameez is a remarkable young man. After he graduated from high school, he enrolled at the University of Virginia. He was an intern with the President of the University of Virginia and with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. After his graduation, he was selected as a Fulbright Scholar and is currently studying in the UK. He will begin Yale Law School in the fall.

So much for the detractors of Houston public schools!

Zaakir Tameez recently wrote to alert me that the school district (HISD) is trying to take control of the HISD Youth Congress away from students.

HISD is now trying to take over the Student Congress and replace it with a “district-sanctioned vehicle” that operates “under the direction” of administrators. In other words, district staff recommended that the board dissolve the student-run, student-led group that has been operating for seven years now to create something new that they can control. 

It would mean so much to us if you could speak on this – a short blog post, or even a tweet. We are trying to raise awareness to fight back. It’s a sad situation, really. We’ve spent years advocating for greater funding & resources for HISD and to prevent the board takeover that is being planned by the State of Texas. 

But then, this. Without any heads up, they are attempting to take us over.  Not one board member or member of district staff has reached out to us yet to inform us of the resolution. I am attaching the resolution text and an FAQ on the situation…Your response would be so greatly appreciated. We’re proud that you came from the same schools that we did. 




Ann Cronin, retired teacher in Connecticut, posted a letter on her blog written by another Connecticut teacher and addressed to Secretary of Education-Designate Miguel Cardona:

Jeannette C. Faber writes to tell Dr. Cardona that it is time to end standardized testing, now!

Dear Commissioner Cardona:

Connecticut is proud that you, our Commissioner of Education, was chosen as the Biden/Harris administration’s Secretary of Education. 

Educators support your dedication to: increasing graduation rates, closing the achievement gap, and ensuring equity for all students. All educators should be committed to making these goals a reality. America’s children need and deserve this. 

However, educators also know that the regime of profit-driven standardized testing will not improve teaching and learning. They never have.

  • If educators are forced to teach to a test in order to increase graduation rates, students are merely learning how to take a test. This is antithetical to what 21st-century learning should look like: problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, project-based learning, capstone projects, creativity, and more. 
  • If schools are pressured to close the achievement gap, but their only tools are computer programs that hold students hostage to rote “learning”, then students are not experiencing rich and meaningful learning. Only 21st-century learning experiences will increase graduation rates that are credible and that actually prepare students for a growingly complex world.
  • If equity means giving students in impoverished areas less rich and meaningful learning, by continuing the standardized testing regime, the equity gap will only increase. What students in impoverished areas need is much more of what students in more affluent areas already have. Connecticut’s discriminatory per-pupil expenditure disparity tells the whole, sad story. 

Dr. Cardona, what holds schools back from making meaningful progress are ill-conceived federal mandates. These mandates have never improved the quality of teaching and learning. They never will. Test scores may have increased. As well as graduation rates. However, those are meaningless if they are not products of rich and meaningful teaching and learning. 

No standardized test can measure 21st-century skills. Hence, standardized tests cannot cultivate the acquisition of those skills.

We ask you, Dr. Cardona, to recommit yourself to the vital goals you have set by shifting the paradigm. Shift how we achieve those goals. That requires ending the testing regime started with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (2002 – 2015) and continued with Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” (2012 – 2016).

We, Dr. Cardona, are asking Connecticut’s teachers, parents, and students to send a strong message to you by refusing the standardized testing planned for this spring.  

We are also asking all who oppose the standardized-testing regime to sign this petition, which will be delivered to you, Dr. Cardona.

We are all trying to survive a global pandemic. In my 25 years in the classroom, I have never seen my students so stressed, depressed, and anxious. It is unnecessary and insensitive to add to the weight of their mental health struggles by adding the stress of standardized testing. Also, when thousands of stressed, depressed, and anxious students are forced to take a standardized test, will the results be accurate? Were they ever really accurate? Able to capture what students know and can do? Teachers know the answer: No!

Now is the time to end standardized testing

#RefuseTheTest 

#DoNotTakeTestingToDC. 

A faithful teacher,

Jeannette C. Faber – MS, MALS, EdD

Mercedes Schneider urges states to follow Montana’s example and ask for a waiver from the federally mandated standardized tests.

She writes:

This is a school year fraught with quarantine disruption, turnstile attendance, distancing and sanitizing burdens, and spotty internet capabilities.

The very idea of conducting tests in the midst of this chaos is “bureaucratic lunacy,” she says.

Lovers of standardized testing say it’s important to find out whether children have “fallen behind.”

It’s important to know how useless the annual tests are. I’ll say this again and again. The teacher is not allowed to seethe test questions or, if she does, to discuss them, even after the tests. The questions are proprietary materials that belong to the testing company. The teacher is not allowed to know how individual students did on specific questions. They learn nothing about what their students know or don’t know.

The scores are returned 4-6 months after the testis given. The students no longer have the same teacher. The new teacher finds out which students are “advanced, proficient, basic, or below basic.” These are subjective terms, subjectively defined. The students are ranked from best to worst. The scores are highly correlated with family income and education.

Some defenders of the tests say they are needed for “equity” or to “close the achievement gap.” This is nonsense. Tests measure gaps, they don’t close them.

Imagine going to a doctor with a severe pain in your stomach. The doctor gives you a series of tests and says he will get back to you in 4-6 months. When he does, you are either dead or cured. What he tells you is not what ailed you, but how you compared to other people with the same symptoms of your age and weight.


Useless! Absolutely useless.