Over testing is slowly killing education

By Greg Sampson
Bells have rung, doors have opened, and bodies
clad in new uniforms (polos and khakis) have slid into seats as shrugged-off
backpacks lie on the floor. Another school year has begun. Students are quiet
and attentive. Teachers wonder how long that will last. New lessons, new books.
There is nothing like opening day excitement.
Across America, children are sharpening their pencils, and that can mean
only one thing: TESTING! For the next three weeks, teachers will twist their
lessons around the many beginning of the year tests that spread through the
grade levels like an Ebola virus. Lest you think I exaggerate, know that we now
test kindergartners with as many as seven standardized tests.
But you protest, tests are to see what children have learned. Why test
them before they have learned anything?
Experts will tell you we have to measure learning and until we test
them, we don’t know that they don’t know. You see, unless we give a 6-year old
student a math test full of word problems, we won’t know that they don’t know.
But you protest, if students get the answers wrong, how do you know that
it was the math and not the fact that they haven’t learned how to read?
Experts will tell you that testing is necessary to measure teacher
performance, school quality, and educational improvement in general.
You protest, who are the experts? Read this blog. They are the
many persons with the policy prescriptions to offer alternatives under the
label “Choice.” And, if you really want to have some fun, suggest that their
choices should undergo the same testing. They come unglued.
A savvy Hollywood producer should develop a series of horror movies like
Friday the 13th or Halloween around the concept of school testing.
It would be a blockbuster series.
Above I compared testing to the Ebola virus, but it really is more like
a cancer. Ebola is swift; people die or recover in a few weeks. Testing is
slowly killing education. Like a cancer, it eats away at the healthy parts of
education. There is a tremendous amount of issues involved with testing, but
the biggest one is that the scores are manipulated by state agencies that
decide what constitutes a passing or proficient performance.

      These scoring levels are not constant. State
agencies change them from year to year to match—what? In Florida, basically the
Department of Education manipulates these “cut scores” to get the result they
want. They play around with the school grading formula as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *