Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jersey Jazzman: More Bad Reformy Testing Metaphors

Jersey Jazzman: More Bad Reformy Testing Metaphors:

More Bad Reformy Testing Metaphors

 We've got a twofer this morning from the reliably reformy Star-Ledger editorial board [all emphases  in this post are mine].

There are many reasons why PARCC boycotts are a big mistake. The exam is like an MRI for education. It can tell us where kids are failing and help diagnose the problem, even when it's hidden in an otherwise well-performing district. 
You know what one of the biggest problems with MRIs is? They're overused:
Overuse of medical interventions, such as MRI, is a considerable problem, leading to excess costs and adverse outcomes. Overuse is driven by many factors, including patient expectations, physician concerns about litigation, and lack of physician accountability for cost. Solutions will require strict adherence to appropriate guidelines and better education of patients. The efforts of the Choosing Wisely2 consortium to mobilize medical societies to show leadership in reducing overuse is a positive step to this end.
And this overuse is running up costs:
Despite current guidelines that recommend against CT or MRI for uncomplicated headaches, primary physicians have been ordering nearly $1 billion worth of scans per year, researchers reported here. 
During routine visits to a primary care physician, CT or MRI were ordered for 9.1% (95% CI 4.9%-13.2%) of chronic primary headache patients, and for 13.6% (95% CI 5.6%-22.8%) of migraine patients, according to Brian C. Callaghan, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues. 
"Neuroimaging is routinely ordered even in common clinical contexts (migraine, chronic headaches, [in the] absence of red flags) where current guidelines explicitly recommend against its use," Callaghan and colleagues wrote in a study they presented at the American Neurological Association's annual meeting.
You know, maybe I should change the title of this post -- because it seems like Tom Moran and his crew at the S-L have inadvertently stumbled on to a perfect analogy for today's testing madness.

We're spending billions each year on statewide standardized tests. These tests are warping the curriculum in our schools, yet any evidence that this regime of testing has improved American education is, at best, weak.

Our obsession with standardized testing is like our overuse of MRIs: our "diagnosis" isn't telling us much we didn't already know, and our headaches still haven't gone away.

Like I said, today's column in the S-L has two bad metaphors:
But because parents in more affluent communities have become increasingly suspicious of the state test itself — not unlike the overwrought side-eye given to childhood vaccines — what's now at risk is funding for kids who are most vulnerable.
Actually, the resistance to the overuse of tests is completely unlike the resistance to the use Jersey Jazzman: More Bad Reformy Testing Metaphors: