Increasingly these days, testing and “data” are them main drivers of so-called “education reform.”
Once a term for progressive change in education, “reform” now means turning back the clock in many ways. And quantifiable results from standardized assessments now determine everything from a student’s graduation to a teacher’s employment status to the fate of whole schools and entire school systems.
“But across the country, a growing number of parents are exercising their legal right to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, in favor of other assessments (such as portfolios) that are more organically connected to genuine teaching and learning,”reports TruthOut in a bracing essay by Brian Jones, excerpted below:
“Courageous teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle have voted unanimously to refuse to administer the district’s standardized tests this semester.
“’Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress,’ said Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator Kris McBride yesterday.
“’Students don’t take it seriously. It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered.’ Garfield teachers were scheduled to administer the district-wide Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) to ninth graders in the first part of January. It is supposed to measure progress in reading and math, but teachers report it only wastes time and resources.
“’What frustrates me about the MAP test is that the computer labs are monopolized for weeks by the MAP test, making research projects very difficult to assign,’ said history teacher Jesse Hagopian.’This especially hurts students who don’t have a computer at home.’ The teachers also objected to a conflict of interest: when the district purchased the test for $4 million, the superintendent sat on the board of the very company that marketed it. Students are told the test will have no impact on their grades, teachers said, so they tend to hurry through it.
“Yet district officials use the test results to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness. ‘Our teachers feel strongly that this type of evaluative tool is unfair based on the abundance of problems with the exam, the content, and the statistical insignificance of the students’ scores,’ said McBride.”