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Standardized Testing: Indispensable to Those Who Are Not Subjected to It.

September 5, 2020

This is what standardized testing has been in public schools across America ever since No Child Left Behind (NCLB):

It’s like some president-backed, bipartisan Congress decided that we need to measure student physical health based on student weight. Of course, student physical health is by far too complex a concept to be captured by student weight, but let’s just put that reality aside in favor of the appearance of being able to pack a huge, complex package into a matchbox by getting those kids on the scale and putting the onus on teachers and schools to make students weight what the state (answering to the federal government in exchange for funding) decides those students should weigh.

Now, it is ridiculous on its face to hold teachers and schools responsible for student weight– which is why no bathroom scale company will guarantee that their scales are meant to be used to determine anything beyond the weight of the person standing on the scale. However, that president-backed, bipartisan Congress has decided that schools and teachers must ensure that their students achieve some predetermined optimal weight.

So. Weight-prep programs are instituted for students at risk of not achieving their state-determined optimal weights, the point of which is to drill students in scale-optimizing strategies (i.e., where to stand on the scale in order to make the weight appear higher or lower; how to push down on the scale to “weigh more”). In order to make time in the school day for these at-risk weighers to be drilled and redrilled, they must miss lunch, group sports, and playtime, but what is important to the school and to the teacher is achieving the optimal weight number so that we can tout that number, tag the student as physically healthy, keep our jobs, and collect federal dollars.

Surely we also congratulate the hungry and lethargic student for achieving that state-determined weight number. And if anyone points out that the student is hungry and lethargic, supporters of the process ignore the child and tout the number. 

This is where American public education is with standardized testing. Standardized test scores are inadequate for capturing the complexities of teaching and learning, can be manipulated, and can lead to exploiting the very children we profess to be helping. The whole process is simply wrong, beginning with the fact that elected and appointed officials who advocate for “test-based accountability” will themselves never be subjected to it.

I wonder how many of those officials would continue to push test-centric ed reform if as a condition of their stance they had to agree to put their political positions on the line if NAEP scores did not continue to significantly rise from year to year, or even if they had to pass an annual standardized test detemined by an independent committee drawn from their constituency.

I think such conditions would yield a notable about-face from many pro-testing politicians.

Betsy DeVos, who takes no tests.


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  1. speduktr permalink

    Thumbs up!

  2. Laura H.Chapman permalink


  3. The only problem with your analogy is that bathroom scales are at least reasonably accurate and reliable for measuring weight. Common Core assessments do not accurately and reliably measure anything. Intellectual growth in children is not linear and we have no idea how to measure it.

  4. ira shor permalink

    Standardized testing is a management tool for top-down administrative control of schools, teachers, and curriculum. It also maintains the status quo of race and class inequality, while also interfering with creative and critical teaching at the classroom level. Pervasive and costly, a boon to tech industries for all the hardware, software, and computing services required, standardized testing also drains local district budgets which enforces large student class sizes. Damage is great, benefits to the majority non-existent.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Standardized Testing Is Indispensable to Those Who Are Not Subjected to It | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Standardized Testing: Indispensable to Those Who Are Not Subjected to It. | deutsch29 | IEA Voice

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