Why our current obsession with high-stakes testing is wrong

“We have seen how an increasingly test-obsessed public has led our school systems to narrow their curricula, diminishing attention to many of our important public education goals to devote inordinate attention to test preparation,” Domenech writes.

“Learning Leadership” column, June 2013 edition of eSchool News—The members of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, are committed to guaranteeing to every American child a public education that develops his or her achievement in each of the areas that traditionally have been goals of American schools. First and foremost, our schools should promote good citizenship, including the habit and practice of participation in civic life by voting—as well as by contributing to community well-being in voluntary association with fellow citizens.

High achievement includes the organizational and collaborative skills needed to participate effectively in our democracy and practice in the nonviolent resolution of conflict. It depends on familiarity with public issues, a commitment to address them with reason and from consideration of evidence, and the ability to learn from our community’s, nation’s, and world’s historical experience. It includes commitment to our shared public values, such as equal opportunity, respect for others, fairness, compassion, and Americans’ guaranteed constitutional rights.

Productivity is another goal. This includes the ability to contribute to one’s own and to the community’s economic well-being. High achievement includes the ability to think creatively and work collaboratively from a foundation of academic mastery. It includes the appropriate use of technology, as well as self-discipline, responsibility, punctuality, and other work habits appropriate to occupational success.…Read More

The toll high-stakes tests take on non-traditional learners (and their teachers)

Bobbi Snow reports for The Washington Post: He was already exhausted and had 58 questions to go. On the second problem of the 8th grade math exam he was stuck for almost 30 minutes.  This is the state standardized test given to all 8th graders in Virginia. Jim is a visual learner and needed to draw the answers for each possible option. Pausing a moment Jim reached into his snack bag and announced “Help me out here Pringles.”  Turning to me he commented, “I hear salt helps the brain.” I smiled…

Read the full story

…Read More

Opinion: The complete list of problems with high-stakes standardized tests

A few days ago, I went to a reunion of the surviving members of a class that picked up their diplomas 50 years ago, in 1961. They were a smart bunch of kids. The work of a couple of them would be familiar to millions of Americans, says Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author, for the Washington Post. Not surprisingly, a few became teachers. Without exception, those who talked to me at the reunion had no regrets. But also without exception, none of them would now encourage anyone to enter the field. Reason Number One: Standardized, machine-scored, high-stakes tests…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

States collaborate on new national exams


A coalition led by Washington state is developing a plan for computerized adaptive testing.
Washington is leading a group of 31 states in developing a common test that would be given online twice a year.


Two large coalitions of states are competing for federal “Race to the Top” dollars to create a series of new national academic tests to replace the current patchwork system.…Read More

Critics: Obama’s ed policies no better than Bush’s

Critics are saying that the 'new' NCLB is nothing new at all.
A trio of education experts take on high-stakes testing and accountability in interviews with eSchool News.

When it comes to education policy, President Obama is repeating the most grievous errors of his predecessor, charge a trio of venerable education policy analysts, including one—Diane Ravitch—best known for her past support of conservative positions on testing, accountability, and choice.

As Congress begins to rewrite No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Obama administration has offered its own vision for how the revised law should look, including a focus on tougher academic standards and more flexibility for schools. But a growing chorus of critics contends that too many of the administration’s policies follow the same punitive cycle of high-stakes testing and accountability ushered in under the presidency of George W. Bush—and that these policies are actually hurting students.

Both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have acknowledged the need for better standards and assessments to ensure that students graduate from high school ready for college or 21st-century careers. But critics of their approach toward education reform say it continues to rely on a flawed system of high-stakes exams and accountability measures that has narrowed the curriculum, fails to take into account the various social and economic factors that influence a child’s learning, and does a disservice to those students it purports to help most.…Read More