Thursday, April 1, 2021

ANDRE M. PERRY: Standardized tests aren’t the problem, it’s how we use them - Brookings

Standardized tests aren’t the problem, it’s how we use them
Standardized tests aren’t the problem, it’s how we use them

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is refusing to back down on a federal requirement that states must administer standardized tests this year, although a letter to state leaders from the Department of Education last month said that states will have flexibility on how to apply results. States concerned about the safety of administering a test during a pandemic may implement shortened versions of assessments.

This relief from the hammer of accountability, if not from the tests themselves, has gotten a mixed reception from anti-testing advocates, school leaders, and teachers who are still trying to ready schools for face-to-face learning. They’re right: Greater accountability and standardized testing won’t give students the technology they need, give teachers the necessary PPE to stay safe, or give families the income to better house and feed themselves during the pandemic so that kids can focus on learning. And if there was ever a time to see how misguided our accountability systems are in relation to addressing root causes of achievement disparities, it’s now.

On its face, relieving students, teachers, and families from the grip of test-based accountability makes sense. We know student achievement, particularly in low-income schools and districts, will dip due to circumstances related to the pandemic and social distancing. We know the source of the decline.

And we currently use standardized tests well beyond what they were designed to do, which is to measure a few areas of academic achievement. Achievement tests were not designed for the purposes of promoting or grading students, evaluating teachers, or evaluating schools. In fact, connecting these social functions to achievement test data corrupts what the tests are measuring. In statistics, this is called Campbell’s Law. When a CONTINUE READING: Standardized tests aren’t the problem, it’s how we use them