Thursday, August 11, 2016

How Is Testing Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears? | Diane Ravitch's blog

How Is Testing Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears? | Diane Ravitch's blog:

How Is Testing Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears? 



Three years ago, I wrote about a heroic educator in upstate New York who wrote bluntly about the current obsession with testing, ranking all students based on their test scores. Her name is Teresa Thayer Snyder. I called her a hero educator. She was at that time the superintendent of Voorheesville, New York, a small and high-performing district. She spoke out against the rigging of test scores on the new Common Core tests, which caused scores across the state to collapse. Because of her courage and integrity, I named her to the blog’s honor roll.
Now Superintendent Snyder is leading another district, Green Island Union Free District, and she has spoken out again about the stupidity of annual standardized testing, which tells us nothing that we don’t already know.
She writes:
NY State Tests and The Three Bears
I am certain every reader remembers the story of Goldilocks breaking and entering into the cottage of The Three Bears. After wreaking havoc on their household, seeking a chair, a bed, and a bowl of porridge that was “just right” she dozed off in baby bear’s bed until she was awakened by the three bears’ return, at which time she ran off into the forest and was never seen by the bears again.
Such it is with New York State testing for children in grades 3 through 8. In the desperate attempt to find a test that is “just right” the State (and other States) has experimented for the past several years. Sadly, in the pursuit of “just right,” thousands of children have been subjected to assessments that were anything but. The results are in again, and while the powers that be are claiming gains in proficiency, analysts are suggesting that the gains are the result of lowering the bar that signifies achievement. Whatever—the point that should not be missed is that the raising or the lowering of the bar is entirely unrelated to the experience of children in the tested grades.
The test results again show that children in wealthy schools are more proficient than children in poverty; that children in regular education are more proficient than children who are differently abled; that children whose first language is the same as the test writers are more proficient than children for whom that language is a new language. These outcomes are so stable over time that one wonders why we need an expensive and extensive testing program to reveal these results. Indeed, standardized tests have been telling this story since their inception over a century ago.


What standardized tests have also been telling us for all these years is that there is very little correlation, if any, between outcomes on these tests and success in life. Recently, I was with a group of young women, all 30-something young adults. In the course of the conversation, standardized testing came up (I swear it was not I who brought it up!!). A litany of anxiety poured forth. Person after person articulated how much they hated those days of testing they had experienced in their k-12 education. One after another made statements such as “they made me feel stupid;” “I was always so disappointed as I worked so hard.” I finally How Is Testing Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears? | Diane Ravitch's blog:

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