Thursday, November 17, 2016

Teacher: Why we don’t need a single standardized test - The Washington Post

Teacher: Why we don’t need a single standardized test - The Washington Post:

Teacher: Why we don’t need a single standardized test

If you are tired of reading about Donald Trump, take a look a this. Peter Greene,  a veteran teacher of English in a small town in Pennsylvania, wrote on his  lively Curmudgucation blogthat he has found himself in conversations about standardized testing that go something like this: people who like standardized testing defend it to the max while he counters that the number of standardized tests necessary for students to take is zero.
For taking that position he writes, he has been called a “union shill,” lectured that data from these tests are the life blood of education, and asked to be explain what the alternative to standardized testing is. Here in this post, he explains his thinking. This is a shortened version of the original, which you can find here.

By Peter Greene
Is there such a thing as a useful standardized test?
To have this conversation, we have to get one thing out of the way. If you believe (and I think some school reformers sincerely do) that the only reason that teachers oppose the current high stakes test-and-punish status quo is because their self-serving union tells them to, you are blinding yourself to some real issues.
First, there is a real gulf between national union leadership and rank-and-file teachers precisely because union opposition to reformer policies has usually been tepid. Teacher opposition to testing comes first and foremost from teachers who have been watching testing become a toxic, destructive element in our classrooms that interferes with our ability to deliver real education. It’s detrimental to our students. And it is used in many places to deliver a professional verdict on our schools and ourselves with an accuracy no greater than a roll of the dice.
Opposition to testing also comes from other people who see how it plays out on the ground: parents. The Opt Out movement — in which hundreds of thousands of parents have not allowed their children to take state-mandated accountability standardized tests — was not created by teachers. It is not led by teachers — and in some places, it is actually potentially damaging to teachers under the current bizarre test-driven accountability system.
So if you imagine that test opposition is some sort of political ploy engineered top-down by unions, you are kidding yourself.
None of That Answers the Question, so Let’s Get Back To It
If I am such a dedicated opponent of standardized testing, what do I propose as an acceptable substitute?
Let’s first clarify our rather fuzzy terms.
“Standardized” Test?
Come to think of it, we’d better clarify “test” as well. For many folks, it’s only a “test” if the student is answering questions. A five-page paper assignment, for instance, is usually not called Teacher: Why we don’t need a single standardized test - The Washington Post:

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